You must understand that at the TPM newsroom in New York City, most of the staff sit at desks facing directly into a wall of four big flat screen TVs playing all three cable news networks and usually one C-SPAN all day. So, really, these people put in a long day’s work on many levels. In any case, over the years the staff has developed a certain ironic fandom for the car chases that have always been a staple of the excitment/ratings starved producers of daytime cable news.
Now, before you start, please, no social commentary about hyped up cops endangering bystanders with unwarranted chases (I was almost run over in one about fifteen years ago), economic disparities, the degradation of our culture or just anything else. Just take it for what it is. Don’t judge us. We’ve come to see them as a genuine form of contemporary pop art. Or maybe that’s just me.
In any case, Shep Smith caught one of these about a half hour ago. And Shep Smith, notwithstanding being kind of crazy, is probably not only the most admirable but probably the only admirable and interesting anchor ever to appear on Fox News.
So, as I say, Shep caught one of these chases this afternoon. And this led to one of those classic Shep moments where he stepped back from the immediacy of the moment and expressed his shock and bewilderment at seeing the basic rules of the car chase genre being violated. In this case, letting the guy get away.
The car chase is like a bullfight. A lot of drama. Dramatic turns. Different strategies. Good color. But the bull always dies. Even if he gores the matador, he still dies. And similarly, the target in the car chase always gets caught because with 29 misallocated police cars, three police helicopters and 13 media helicopters all on the case, how can you possibly get away?
Anyway, in this case, at least, they let him get away. At least he hasn’t been caught yet. So here’s Shep just reflecting on the moment, his history of car chase watching and how such a thing could be allowed to happen.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.