Sarah Palin bags Martin Bashir

This was not the high point of cable "news" or political discourse generally. Martin Bashir has left MSNBC after comments directed toward Sarah Palin that were stupid, crude and sick.

Make no mistake, Palin was the victim here. Too bad for Bashir. He is actually a very knowledgeable and thoughtful guy, and a very principled progressive when he was saying serious things about serious matters. But too often, for various reasons, he was not.

This episode is only one small problem with what has become of cable news. Turn on MSNBC to channel surf and you will often find the face of the right wing demon of the hour. Turn on Fox and you will often see the face of some Republican shill demonizing the president, who in Fox land is always losing the next election or doing damage to the nation.

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Bill O'Reilly writes a book saying the New Testament got some things wrong. Turn on CNN and you will increasingly see shows about travel or showbiz sandwiched between prepackaged pundits dishing prepaid spin which is the new brew under new management.

Talk radio is even worse. Turn on Rush Limbaugh and you will hear insults directed toward, amazingly, Pope Francis. Turn on Air America and you will hear — oh, well, you won't hear anything anymore.

Meanwhile the viewers migrate to alternatives to the alternatives. How much prepackaged insider pundit spin can the market bear? What I wish, in vain, is that conservative media would return to intelligent commentary, as Bill Buckley offered on "Firing Line." Serious conservatives might adjourn to You Tube where you can find many of the old Buckley episodes.

And, I wish in vain, that liberal media would spend less time telling liberals which conservatives liberals hate and more time discussing the serious issues that concern serious people, the kind of people who increasingly no longer watch cable "news," who are far greater in number than those who do watch "cable news."

And, I wish in vain (are you listening to me Jesus, for my best Christmas present ever?) that somehow, in some way, the greatest man in the history of television news would buy a news network that presents real news.

I refer, of course, to Ted Turner.