Now, hey, when it comes to cable coverage, I’m usually all for analysis, and everything; 99 percent of the time, cable news needs more smart commentary, not less. But, in the case of Bo-bama…analysis and meta-commentary doesn’t just miss the point; it is full-on preposterous. I mean, it’s a dog. Just have fun with the story! And, as you’re doing so, just come out and admit that you’re only covering it because it’s entertaining, and because it’s heartwarming, and because not everything has to have meta-implications. Some things needn’t be—shouldn’t be—elevated. Some things should be, on the contrary, celebrated for their very groundedness and averageness and relatability. Human interest stories—when they’re of true human interest (rather than the products of cable’s attempts to sensationalize the serious and elevate the vapid)—needn’t be apologized for.
But the kind of tone-deafness so prominently on display in yesterday’s cable coverage is precisely what many people resent about cable news (not to mention the media more generally): its tendency to inject melodrama into even the most banal and undramatic of stories. Its impulse to dress things up in sequins and boas and pancake makeup rather than simply present them, to the extent possible, as they are. Waxing rhetorical about The Cultural Significance of Bo the Dog, in this case, isn’t merely absurd; it verges on intellectual dishonesty. It suggests an attempt to fool audiences into thinking they’re watching Substantial Commentary, when in fact what they’re watching is the same kind of body-language-expert-focused, banter-happy drivel they’re so used to seeing on cable news.
By all means, report on Bo’s debut; but report on it. There’s no need to gild the puppy. Good grief.