It’s a shame I have to do this, but here goes.

Leading off yet another commentary with the admonition that this is NOT about politics. I don’t care which side you stand, sit, kneel or prostrate on. If you take this as a biased or partisan opinion, then you need to check yourself at the door.

Because while my speaking and consulting series, “Mastering the Media”, focuses on how to succeed at both the personal and professional game of life while navigating 21st Century media, I’m also a veteran working broadcast journalist. Like many others of a certain age, I’ve grown weary of seeing what was once a proud profession being pounded into relevant submission by those seeking to make the reporting of news more about sideshows than sidebars.

Which leads to why there is a backlash against what used to be legitimate news reporting. Even those who claim to be legit, and seek to be above the fray, are part of the same morass that leads to more people every day refusing to trust what they hear or see.

Even they know it’s all another really bad reality show, so why trust anything said on these programs?

Here we go.

There’s a good reason why the collective IQ of America seems to be sliding into new and overtly aromatic swamps across this country. An even more pertinent reason why and how Americans are allowing themselves to be played as little more than suckers for ratings glee.

It’s called “the panel show”. Once a special Sunday morning staple when used to dig deeper into the news and interview those who had something intelligent and meaningful to say, now little more than a “bread and circuses” style shout-fest where it really is about how loud someone can yell, and how ridiculous someone can make either themselves or the opponent look.

In a few moments, we will say hello to Ana Navarro, a South Florida lawyer who has made quite a name for herself being political Velcro. These are the people with plenty of “name value”, political connections and important sounding positions when, in actuality, they’ve been coffee runners and envelope stuffers.

Navarro specializes, as do many of her contemporaries, of being little more than verbal excremental tossers. It’s their job to be part of a panel, yell louder than the other guest or guests, create tension and havoc as often as possible, and in general seek to turn the entire conversation into a free for all.

Sadly, this is what cable network news programming is currently built on.

In the last few years, coinciding with the emergence of Donald Trump, broadcast cable news at places such as CNN, FOX and MSNBC have become the home of bad theater, really bad acting, and what seeks to pass as commentary but is little more than mentally insulting and boorish tripe.

The shame is, it doesn’t have to be that way. All 3 of those cable networks are backed by excellent news gathering professionals and producers. When covering the news in a truly fair and balanced method, and I mean covering the news without the need to fall back on nonsensical commentary clowns, they all get it right.

NBC News is a stalwart of unbiased news coverage. CNN’s story telling and reporting, when done without favor, is in-depth and brilliant. Even FOX News, for all the hammering they take at being just this side of Government run state media, when they are reporting the news, they often cover a wider range of stories than the other outlets, and do so in an even handed style.

It’s when these outlets lower themselves into the abysmal pit of punditry where they run right off the rails, doing themselves and their audience a complete and sometimes laughable disservice.

Which brings us back to Navarro and her appearance with FOX News contributor Steve Cortes on CNN the night of Wednesday, January 9th. What began as the usual take on the day’s event, beginning with Donald Trump Jr.’s social media post comparing immigrants to animals in a zoo, predictably turned into what can frankly and properly called little more than a shit show.

Cortes, naturally, fell back on the “fake news” mantra that is popular with a certain group. He baited Navarro perfectly with words such as “leftist”, despite Navarro being a Republican.

That’s why he was booked on the show. Producers knew this would be his line of commentary. Those same producers also knew this would enrage and light the match for host Chris Cuomo, who armed with his own prime time program has become another standard ringleader and carnival barker. These same producers also knew Cortes would be the perfect high decibel foil for Navarro.

Ratings gold. Endless clicks on the hope someone would say or do something that would have people running for their You Tube accounts.

Enter Navarro, who prepared for her appearance by having a prop handy to make her point. In what she no doubt deems a success, because after all look at how much attention it’s getting, Navarro put on her figurative clown nose and became part of the circus.

Anything of substance said? Anyone make a salient point? Any new ground broken in the discussion?

Of course not. That was never the intent. The plan here was create an argument and hope for something that would go viral.

Which is always what is discussed with the hosts and guests. The need to BE the news instead of talking about it.

Navarro, of course, planned the entire thing. There’s no doubt at least one of the producers knew what was going to happen, because guests don’t always come to the desk and then place a handy nail file within arm’s reach.

It’s all staged. Down to the questions, the expected responses, the faux righteous indignity, the rolling of the eyes and the smug looks on all three faces.

Donald Trump is often blasted for bringing a level of horrendously bad reality show life to the White House. Interesting how that hammering comes from those who are daily seeking to outdo how low they can go on the reality show scale.

Of course, this is television, and it became less about actually reporting the news and garnering entertainment points a very long time ago. It’s thus up to you, the viewer, to decide if you want to be taken for the ride every sucker is whisked away on.

Part of a successful career is knowing when you’re being taken. Knowing when you’re being “had”. Knowing when you’re being made the fool.

Then knowing how to avoid it at all costs. Life is too short to be the sucker.

In instances such as these, you’re being played.

Now decide how you will respond.