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Heartburn in the Heartland

Reported by Chrish - April 30, 2006

This is the first time that I have ever watched a Heartland show in it’s entirety; as on the several other attempts, I just couldn’t stomach more than 10 minutes of Kasich’s disjointed verbal collage of current events. But knowing that a little pain can sometimes build character and armed with my trusty notebook and pen, I set out on an adventure into the “Heartland.”

The graphics are instructive - a quick shot of a map featuring the states around the Ohio River (homage to Kasich’s home state of Ohio) and quick montage of shots of soldiers returning home, NASCAR drivers, and people praying in church. (Comment: in zeroing in on one cultural group, Kasich eliminates a good chunk of the American people – but this is the “Heartland.”) The introductory chyron said, “Illegal Rights – time for a crackdown or do these people deserve rights?” (Comment: simplistic statement for a complex issue – but this is the “Heartland.”)

For the next 60 minutes, Kasich presented an array of topics and speakers that seemed to last no more than three minutes during which time Kasich would speak over the guests – an irritating and unprofessional approach to TV “journalism.” As there are too many topics to cover, I’ll just highlight the ones I thought were noteworthy.

The first segment was about oil prices, featuring Brad Proctor of GasPrice.com who talked about his (rather cool) website which features up to the minute gas prices in the US. The other person was Harry Allen, of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, who extolled the value of domestic drilling. (Comment: although Proctor was interesting, shouldn’t Kasich have interviewed someone who advocates other approaches to the gas crisis?)

There was an immigration debate between congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Ca) and Henry Cuellar (D-Tx), which predictably had Rohrabacher defending the House Bill. He feels that if all the illegals are deported, business will raise wages to attract all those who are unemployed (comment: I thought the unemployment rate was at an historic low). He also stated that prisoners could be used to take the place of the illegal workers. Cuellar was more kindly disposed to the guest worker program.

The Duke rape case is a popular topic on Fox and Kasich didn’t disappoint. He started off his segment, which was about the New Black Panthers coming to Duke to voice their support for the victim and interview the lacrosse team members, by asking if “there’s potential danger at Duke” and “are the Black Panthers setting their sights on a social powder keg?” (Comment: does Fox want this to be a powder keg?) He then said that this could be a “major problem as racial tensions are already running high.” And in typical Foxian fashion he made the statement that “SOME SAY” that the Black Panthers are planning on carrying guns. As correspondent Marianne Silber was commenting that the students, who are already going through a lot of stress, are afraid, the chyron read “more Duke danger.” (Comment: Katie bar the door, the Black Panthers are coming. Let’s play the race card and scare the older white Fox viewers who have scary memories of scary Huey Newton and Eldridge Cleaver – along with the young white viewers who are scared of black people in uniforms).

Last, but not least, was a shot of Tony Snow singing the national anthem, with his hand over his heart, at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner (comment: gag). This was followed by Susan Estrich, channeling Carole Channing, who just burbled on about her love for Tony Snow.

Comment: I was exhausted after watching this show. Thankfully, I was drinking coffee, so I was able to keep up the pace. Fox has a plethora of bad shows and this one has to be right up there in the top ten. As an interviewer, I feel that Kasich is terrible. Kasich’s (with his nasal inflected voice) talking over and muttering while the guests were speaking and then ending the segment in the middle of the guest’s sentence is really poor form. Watching more than 10 minutes of Heartland is an exercise in endurance.


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