The sins of current affairs shows

Andrew L. Urban

 I’m talking to the TV screen. To be accurate, I’m swearing at the show. Sometimes I even switch off or switch channels to stop the irritation. And I’m usually pretty calm. But my response isn’t prompted by subject matter, even when it is a regurgitation of an ignorant, uninformed opinion – or the inane talking points of a political party.

 You’ll understand why my frustrations with talk shows, their hosts and their producers are boiling over, given that I am consuming an average of over 10 hours of news & current affairs a day. I watch Fox News from 6.30/7am till 12, for US current affairs and Sky News Australia from about 4.30 till about 10pm. (I use earbuds so I can make food and drinks while still ‘tuned in’.) My schedule is partly driven by genuine interest in global affairs and partly by professional needs as a freelance current affairs journalist and author.

In my view, the biggest and most irritating ‘sin’ in opinion shows is what I call the ‘dinner party syndrome’. This is when guests and host talk (sometimes shout – they all SHOUT, never mind the microphones) over each other as if they were at a dinner party. The sound that comes out of the TV speakers is not split into individual speakers like we experience at dinner parties but converges to sound like “abrgajun umllof”. The producers have dropped the ball. The host has dropped the ball. It’s not a ‘great conversation’ but a careless and unprofessional loss of communication with the audience. Sadly, some of my favourite current affairs / opinion shows are guilty of this ‘sin’.

The second worst ‘sin’ is the interrupting  host. Almost every TV talk show or panel show host does it. Clumsily. Infuriatingly. Having conducted thousands of print & TV interviews (a reference to experience not as boast), I know it is possible to make any necessary interruptions slide instead of barge…And some make it worse by blaming it on some undetectable technical “delay”, insulting our intelligence.

The odd ABC viewer reading this who watches 7.30 (and those of us who see examples on non-ABC current affairs shows) will instantly think of Sarah Ferguson’s interviews with centre right politicians and commentators as a top example. It’s not a ‘tough interview’; it’s an aggressively biased interview. On Fox’s Your World, host Neil Cavuto interrupts all and sundry. Not only is it rude and irritating, it is also destructive of the interview; half the answer is buried in the host’s barging over the top of it.

Just as irritating are those hosts who like to deliver a lengthy preamble in which they outline either the various possible answers to the question posed, or to editorialise on it. Spare us. Just ask the question …. once.

The third ‘sin’ on my list is the show that runs out of time on a segment. “Sorry but we’re out of time, we’ll have you back again …” The viewer can’t decide whether this is the result of incompetence or … incompetence. Or too many preambles.

The big fourth ‘sin’ is TV hosts – those who argue against climate alarmism and resultant policies – carelessly refer to CO2 emissions as ‘pollution’?

They are likely to be the ones who take a watered down position on emission reduction targets and point to China as being a bigger emitter. It doesn’t matter who is the bigger emitter; emitters do not cause warming. The ice age melted away without us.

Those half-baked positions muddy the message to their audiences and undermine the argument against the false narrative giving de-facto support for the ideological rationale for destructive energy policies.

Andrew L. Urban has authored books on wrongful convictions, climate change, President Zelensky/Ukraine at war, and blogs at &  He created and presented Front Up, a prime time social documentary interview program that ran for nine years on SBS TV. Episodes now available at frontuponline

Random strangers, personal interviews

This entry was posted in Quotidian. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The sins of current affairs shows

  1. Pv says:

    Don’t you just hate it when people ask you a question , then fail to listen to your response
    Because , they’re thinking of their next question. ? Listening properly and fully is the greatest human skill. I am such a cynic now. So much has happened to me and my family , which is inexcusable. I would love someone to tell me why I and my wife and 2 kids have had to endure so much and so unfairly. Someone tell me and I will listen to every word. Pv

  2. Garry Stannus says:

    I agree with you about Sarah Ferguson ,,, I’ve stopped watching 7:30 Report for the reason you’ve mentioned … her manner/rudeness. She’s a far cry from Kerry O’Brien!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *