The proliferation of weapons of mass distraction

Let me talk to you about the proliferation of WMDs – not the kind you’re used to hearing about, and they threaten to undermine our democracy. Allow me to explain.

WMDs are destructive. They have deep implications for the electoral process and the marketplace of ideas. They keep the American public from making informed decisions. They are dangerous. See what I’m talking about? No? The term is actually very concrete – the way I see it, “Weapons of Mass Distraction” – yes, Distraction – does not have anything to do (directly, at least) with Nader, Kerry or even Bush. It has nothing to do with phony intelligence or nukes, but rather with something much more sinister: “WMDs” is simply a fancy way to describe the annoying, repetitive and seemingly omniscient political pundits that plague American newscasts.

Pundits are quite simply out of control. It’s as if Ted Turner and Rupert Murdoch set out to assemble entire armies of talking heads and dress them up in cheap suits for the sole purpose of repeating their message over and over again to slowly indoctrinate the American public (if they don’t bore us to death first, that is). Pundits are everywhere in cable news channels, slowly taking over: Pundits get more airtime than actual news reporting in primetime, when most people are watching.

Now, if these pundits spoke facts, or at least balanced their statements with opposing opinions, this wouldn’t be a big deal – in fact, it would be good for keeping America informed on hot issues. Unfortunately, pundits have degenerated from being credible, respectable sources of opinion to being little more than human broken records, endlessly spieling their biased opinions, and conveniently leaving out any opposing views that might contradict whatever sliver of a reasonable argument one might find in the hot air they spew out. On top of that, they give unnecessary importance to irrelevant issues in order to distract us from what really matters – hence “Weapons of Mass Distraction.” Over 1,000 American soldiers killed in Iraq, and the WMDs are still talking about Vietnam War records? And the American public is actually listening to them? Please – we can do better!

If this keeps up, American news networks will become nothing more than propaganda outlets for their respective preferred parties, which would seriously undermine our democratic process and the marketplace of ideas. Whoever wants to win the election should make room in their agenda to declare war on CNN and FOX to stop Ted and Rupert from proliferating WMDs, an imminent threat to the very foundations of effective democracy.

Jay Rooney can be contacted at