It was only recently I learned, with some considerable consternation, that CNN is reviving “Crossfire.” This is a show that ran five days a week on the Cable News Network from 1982 through 2005. In the news release announcing the rebirth of this appalling, pointless, loud, bombastic, repetitive program that is almost completely without merit, the network refers to it as “the classic debate program.”
I choose to disagree. To be fair, many people might reasonably find fault with the glowing characterization of the original show as seen through the rose colored glasses of CNN’s combination marketing/news department. In my case, I choose to disagree for the simple reason that I’ve seen the show. Repeatedly. I’ve suffered through its self-important hosts lambasting each other on every topic under the sun, while expending no effort whatsoever to find common ground, to build a bigger tent on any issue, or to simply agree that the opposition’s perspective is valid even if it differs with their own.
As I look back on those programs I can’t help but think a better description of the show might be shout-fest, or argument, or grown-ups mimicking children in the midst of a tantrum.
As Jon Stewart so famously said when appearing on that show in 2004, “It’s not so much that it’s bad, as it’s hurting America.”
He got big laughs with that line. But he was right — so right that people began to openly criticize the program for being little more than a ridiculous platform for the hosts to shill for their parties by repeating the talking points of the day.
Crossfire, thankfully, went off the air not long after.
Fast forward to today and CNN is touting the new Crossfire as a renewal of the old Crossfire with new hosts and new guests. Network officials say the show “will resemble the show’s original format with passionate conversation and focus on topical events of the day.”
For those of us who saw the original, there is plenty to yawn at in that sentence. Ideological sycophants spouting the party line ad infinitum is hardly the stuff passionate conversation is made of.
This matters to us out here in the world because knowing how to discuss controversial issues and find common ground is important. Regardless what industry you might be in, you can be guaranteed there will be differences of opinion on how to allocate funds, when to invest, when to spend, when to expand and when to contract. Deciding if that new technology is ready to be rolled out or not matters. Accepting that the other guy’s point of view is valid, even if it’s not entirely correct, is an important step toward reconciliation of divergent camps while getting the players at the table to work together to reach a common goal, not just argue and fume over the differences between them.
Am I making too much of this? After all, we’re talking about nothing more important that a television show, right? I mean, it’s not like these people come into our homes and impact our lives.
Wrong! CNN recently ran a self-promotional teaser segment that pitted new Crossfire hosts Van Jones and Newt Gingrich against each other on the hottest and most important issues of the day – racism and the Zimmerman trial. What came across in the 10-minute segment was not that both participants have walked the halls of the White House and had a hand in creating policy at the highest levels of government. It was not that they have stellar insight into the issues the rest of us are not privy to. No, that would be far too hopeful for an affair as churlish and puerile as Crossfire.
It quickly became apparent that once again the point of the program would be to establish disagreements. Neither host could find it within themselves to acknowledge the other’s point as being valid or worthy of consideration. They repeated themselves. They beat the horse until it was dead, then beat it some more.
We as a people must stop this nonsense. We as an industry must rise above the petty bickering we so often allow ourselves to be pulled into. Our goal must be to bind ourselves together in a mutually beneficial partnership that will bring strength, resources, and opportunity to all of us.
The aviation industry is no different from the country as a whole in that sense. The key to success is in finding a way for disparate groups and disagreeing people to work together toward a common goal that benefits the entire population. We will not thrive as an industry if we continually lash out at each other as if we are enemies.
The time to open our eyes and consider new ideas is now. If history teaches us nothing else, it teaches us with great clarity that the individual with the vision to see where success lies is almost always considered to be a nut, while the loud, boisterous individual who is loved by the majority – well, he or she is almost always on the wrong track. So let’s look for the insightful voice, the unique opportunity, the unusual idea, and put serious thought into how we can help make it work.
Following our previous pattern of trying to poke holes in the other guy’s balloon before we even consider whether his idea is a good one or not is getting us nowhere.
Let’s commit to a more thoughtful, considerate, and open-minded future for GA. The alternative is too messy and counter-productive to pursue.
If you doubt that, just watch Crossfire when it debuts on Sept. 26 to see which path leads somewhere, and which is merely a circular distraction that leads to yet another argument, and another argument, and another…