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It is 7 a.m. I need to drive 6 miles just to buy milk. So I start up the vehicle, put the manual transmission into reverse, turn on the radio and spin the dial to ESPN. It’s Mike and Mike in the Morning. And, once again, it’s Johnny Football time.

Please, stop this! It is still May. Johnny Manziel (his parents are “filthy rich” says one of the Mikes) has done something completely insignificant–in life, in football, whatever–but the fabricated news cycle is winding us up. The kid went to Vegas on a holiday weekend from his day job, it seems. And that is enough to get the talking heads at ESPN spinning (this appears to have started on Monday; I must have already been asleep).

I tolerated the lead-up to the NFL draft, and all the chatter about Manziel: his endlessly analyzed character flaws, his apparent talents, his evaluation by the corporations that pose as NFL franchises. But the draft is done; it’s baseball time, as well as the torturously long NBA and NHL playoffs. There’s a tremendous amount of activity on the field, on the court and on the ice. But ESPN has, yet again, gone for the lowest common denominator, the world of gossip.

It’s right out of the Roger Ailes/Fox News playbook: take any personality, any event, any topic, and turn it into phony news by simply telescoping it, talking about it day in and day out, hour after hour. It exchanges being really informed with only imagining that you are really informed, even for something as insignificant as sports.

And why is this done? For ESPN, as for so much of the media today, because it’s cheap: cheap in the sense that it takes almost no investment in reporting or thinking, or the spending of creative capital to come up with a program that is actually varied and informative. That would be too much work, and might actually cost the conglomerate some money, so the network does it on the cheap, and it cheats us in the process.

I didn’t want to do it, but I did: I tuned in to Morning Edition…

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