If 31 percent of Americans don’t know who Dick Cheney is, how many more have no idea of what he is?
A new Pew Center study today tells us that “the coaxial and digital revolutions have had little impact on...how much Americans know about national and international affairs.”
That’s not fair. Ask us about Imus, the father of Anna Nicole Smith’s baby or the backstage battles at “American Idol,” and we can tell you a lot.
That may not be fair either: Cable news, syndicated gossip shows, talk radio and all the rest certainly pander to their audience’s interests, but they didn’t invent them.
What may be scarier is that “high knowledge” Americans get their news from a strange combination of sources: the Daily Show, the Colbert Report, newspaper web sites, PBS’ News Hour with Jim Lehrer, the O’Reilly Factor, National Public Radio and Rush Limbaugh.
No one could admire Jon Stewart more than I do, but if he is today’s Tom Brokaw, he will be the first to tell you we’re in trouble.
Thirty-five years ago, I wrote, “Americans are stuffed with information but starved for understanding.”
Apparently we still are.