Ok, so here's a common pattern. Someone famous does, oh, anything. Dies, cries, yells, crosses the street, sneezes. It is usually trivial, and almost never affects the lives of anyone outside of the famous person's family and friends. But the media eat it up. The bobble heads on Fox News analyze it and conclude Obama is the devil. Nightly news has a story on it. The Daily Show mocks it. NPR has a story on how weird it is we keep talking about it. It's in the papers. And then people start to notice that we're spending a lot of time and effort on a trivial aspect of a (ultimately) trivial person's life. And people start asking why does the media cover this crap. Those asking that question sound annoyed. But someone always points out that the coverage is because the media is "giving the people what they want." The argument is that if people weren't interested in the tripe, and watching it, then the news would not cover it.
How many times have we heard that one? Every time, is how many. Every time we complain about being fed drivel by news sources, they remind us that it's because there is a substantial portion of the listening audience who are idiots who want to hear it.
As excuses go, this one is only so-so. Yes, they're a business and yes, the public plays a role here and yes, if nobody cared if Britney Spears had a bad hair day then it wouldn't make the news. I get that. But. But is "they made me do it" really the only excuse they can come up with? What we're essentially being told is that media is airing stuff they know is crap, they know is drivel, and they're doing it because people pay them to do it. So they suck, but we pay them for it, so it's ok. But at some point don't you just have to say "I know you'd pay for me to talk about Oprah's ankle fat, but it's not news, and I'm in the news business, so I'm going to report on something that matters?" Is it truly all mercenary? What if the public wants to hear a bunch of lies, do you go and report that too? Don't answer that! I'm freaked out enough as it is.
I guess I'm just saying that "they paid me to do it" is an excuse that only takes you so far. And it only really works if that is ALL the media is - just a business. Just like Mircosoft, or GE, or GM. But the press is supposed to be more than that, isn't it? Was "Freedome of the press" really just a great business op?