The stripped-down aesthetic of public television’s Charlie Rose lends itself to serious discussion. Absent the bells and whistles common to US broadcast and cable TV talk shows – colorful and well appointed sets, endless crawls and promotional inserts, not to mention all of the commercial interruptions – Charlie Rose focuses the viewer’s attention on the conversation at hand. The long-running public affairs program routinely features one-on-one interviews and roundtable discussions with leading figures in politics and business, science and medicine, sport, culture and the arts. So far so good.
Problem is, dissident political views are not welcome on this or very many programs produced by US public media. Charlie Rose rarely features guests who challenge “inside the Beltway” consensus on domestic and foreign policy. Likewise, the sanctity of the so-called free market is seldom challenged. Indeed, the guest list for Charlie Rose reads like a “who’s who” of officialdom and the Fortune 500. In short, Charlie Rose reflects a narrow range of debate between political, business, and cultural elites: Populist sentiments and perspectives need not apply.
Occasionally, there are exceptions to the rule. For instance, in recent weeks Charlie Rose has welcomed critical theorist Slavoj Žižek, and in this clip, award-winning journalist Amy Goodman, host and executive producer of Pacifica Radio’s Democracy Now! Ms. Goodman, who bills her daily news hour as “the exception to the rulers,” is one of the few American news workers to spend considerable time in and around the Occupy Wall Street encampment in lower Manhattan.
Like Charlie Rose, Goodman forswears the sound bite. Unlike her public television colleague, however, Amy Goodman prefers to amplify the voices of everyday people – including young people, like the student Goodman describes here, who attends high school by day and occupies Wall Street by night.
In keeping with Democracy Now!’s commitment to bringing its audience “access to people and perspectives rarely heard in the US corporate-sponsored media,” Pacifica’s flagship newscast grants considerable airtime to activists, scholars, independent journalists and others who courageously challenge conventional wisdom of the sort Charlie Rose dispenses with such cool style and easy assurance.