Monday, June 13, 2011

Must See TV

Kenneth M. O’Brien

I’ve always been fond of a quote from Adlai Stevenson that goes, “Eggheads of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your yokes.” (Extra credit for those who can explain the irony).

No doubt about it, I’ve always been a nerd, geek, wonk – take your pick.

But I like to think that I’ve always had an open mind.

While I’m known as one of, perhaps, three Liberals living in Southbridge, I’ve always welcomed informed points of view that varied from my own.

I remember that way back in high school one of my favorite TV programs was Firing Line, moderated by William F. Buckley, Jr.

It is a wonderful example of what is missing from conventional television programs that purport to provide serious political analysis.

Among the hodgepodge of talking heads who proclaim to provide serious analysis but rarely do more than shade the information at their disposal to proselytize for a particular point of view, one offering stands head and shoulders above the others.

That program is Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN (Sundays at 10 am and 1 pm).

Regrettably, it is on only once a week. But, upon reflection, that is probably what is required to present this kind of quality fare in the otherwise drive-thru world of shock-jock political punditry that dominates the airwaves.

Zakaria was born in Mumbai (then Bombay), Maharashtra, India, to a Konkani Muslim family. His father, Rafiq Zakaria, was a politician associated with the Indian National Congress and an Islamic scholar. His mother, Fatima Zakaria, was for a time the editor of the Sunday Times of India.

Zakaria attended The Cathedral and John Connon School in Mumbai. He received a B.A. degree from Yale University where he was President of the Yale Political Union, editor-in-chief of the Yale Political Monthly, and a member of the Scroll and Key society and the Party of the Right (Yale). He later earned a Ph.D. degree in Political Science from Harvard University in 1993.

He is a former managing editor of Foreign Affairs, international editor for Newsweek, host of Foreign Exchange and currently contributing editor for Time Magazine besides his duties for CNN. He is also the author of a number of books on national and world affairs.

Once a diehard Reaganite, Zakaria now describes himself as a centrist (Village Voice, August 9, 2005).

Having religiously watched this show for over two years, I can only give it my strongest recommendation. I don’t always agree with his point of view, but I always learn something from each and every program.


And that is truly a rare find in today’s melange of media madness.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ken. I remember Firing Line. I also remember when Buckley was editor of National Review. I rarely agreed with his arguments but he always managed to make me understand the logic behind them. I think this nudged me to the center because it forced me to think about my own beliefs and the sometimes sandy ground they were built on.

    I've been reading Zakaria for years. He presents a different point of view and I appreciate his insight. I work with a lot of people who spend significant amounts of time over seas. They nearly all remark how they get more in depth coverage of events (the war in Iraq, for example) on German or Australian TV then they get here. For me, Zakaria presents a window that lets me see how the rest of the world views events.

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