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Idol Chatter

The truest “reality TV” of all commences today, as the news networks are lined up for our viewership as much as the candidates are seeking our vote. Why? Because the drama of the entertainment portion of today overlaps with the realities of how our lives will change long after the personalities and accusations of a campaign are over.

“Santa came today,” said Tim Russert on this morning’s “Today” show, saying that there are more races too close to call than he could remember from any previous years. He was almost giddy. The networks live for days like today and hope that we’ll tune in to see the characters you like to see. NBC has brought back Tom Brokaw. CNN and Fox have loaded up their all-star teams with more analysts than can fit in a studio. I awoke to Fox news’ “best morning show on television” and will likely fall asleep to every channel’s claim as “the best election night coverage.” Heck, even the weathermen are on the A-teams this year, reporting on the effect of floods (in Washington) and rain (in Tennessee) on the election. This will all be exciting unless the results come in slow; after all, this is sort of like the Season Finale… or will it be a cliffhanger that we’ll have to stay tuned for?

The truth is, today is a big entertainment day for the television-news industry, and someday we may choose to reflect on how much the media’s need to create stories, plots, subplots, lead characters, and the like effects the information we receive and the perceptions we form. The key media players aren’t “reporting” the story; they actually are part of the story. They’re not just covering the drama, they’re creating it. This evening–as the results come in and are reported on several networks claiming to have the best coverage, the best “big boards,” the best graphics, the best analysis, and an endless refrain of “keep it right here”–I’ll be remembering that I’m watching those who are as much a part of the story as they are reporters of it.

And for the spiritual person, it may be a good day to also reflect on the sources we trust for information regarding spiritual matters, and/or the degree of effort we put into it. Whether we’re reflecting on our own spiritual journeys, or whom to elect as our leaders, we’re not only responsible for our choice of belief, but also for measuring the reliability of the information we’ve trusted to form those beliefs.

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