The one reality show we all hope ends ... soon
“ and the contestant with the least amount of votes ... will be revealed after this commercial break.”
See, they know what they’re doing on “The Masked Singer.”
The candidates don costumes and outrageous masks to conceal their actual identities.
They warble their way through the same old song and dance to worm their way into your hearts.
They baffle the pundits with obfuscation, leaving them confused and unable to discern the truth.
Then, the contestants beg and pander for votes, with results ready immediately after three minutes of ads for insurance companies and drugs we shouldn’t take if we’re allergic to them.
Ta-dah! ... It’s over: No muss, no fuss.
With each passing election, the campaign and the coverage of it ventures further from something ... well, umm, presidential ... toward what we see on game shows and reality television.
This amazing race to find the weakest link has spawned innumerable family feuds, as the voting public risks putting its future in jeopardy while deciding who will be the survivor of this idiot test — even as claims that Big Brother is rigging the results since the price is right to disrupt our concentration before the wheel of fortune stops spinning and we face the truth or consequences of finding out who America says is on the chopping block.
’Twas always thus and always thus will be.
Unfortunately, unlike the comforting construct of “The Masked Singer,” the likelihood that the talking hairdos America will be watching on election night will come back from commercial and announce the winner before bedtime can be reduced to a pair of equal chances ... slim and fat.
Heck, depending on where you get your news and/or conspiracy theories, we the captivated audience will be groggy and wobbly into the wee small hours of the morning.
To which, all I can say is ... “been there, done that.”
As an undergrad reporter back in 1976 — before the internet, streaming services, cable networks and social media — we sat in our cramped newsroom eating cold pizza, drinking warm beer and waiting for Walter Cronkite, Barbara Walters or David Brinkley to tell us who won the danged thing.
My story on the local seat in the U.S. House of Representatives had long been filed before 3:30 a.m. Eastern, when NBC finally told us that What’s His Face had defeated The Other Guy.
It was exhilarating and exhausting. We were college students — old enough to believe we knew everything, far too young to realize we hadn’t learned anything — and those of us who stayed to get the final pages done decided to hit the floor and sleep in the office.
It was the tightest electoral vote since 1916 — also before the internet, streaming services, cable networks and social media — and in those post-Nixon and post-Watergate days, it felt as though the country was emerging from turmoil the likes of which it wouldn’t see again.
Then came Election Night 2000.
By then, those of us in the newsroom of Paul Fattig’s Ye Olde Muddy Tributary had access to instant information ... so we figured that, while the vote was supposed to be close, we would be able to get the paper out without having to sleep on the floor.
But the only thing all that instant access did was make the night even more confusing — particularly since, by then, cable news polarity had taken over and, depending on which TV set you were watching, you were being force-fed diametrically opposite depictions of what was transpiring.
When the shift ended, somewhere in the a.m. Pacific, we had produced three front pages as events unfolded and we left exhausted but not exhilarated ... not knowing that our final headline, “All Eyes On Florida,” would foreshadow an election that wouldn’t be declared over for another 35 days.
Boy oh boy, we’ll never see another one like that again.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you how to plan your Tuesday night ... but, if I were, I’d say (hypothetically, of course) you should ignore as much of the election coverage as possible.
Not good for the blood pressure. Or for those with ulcers. Or folks subject to tension headaches, temper tantrums or constipation.
There will be a lot of words spewed across the airwaves, most of which will be instantaneously wrong and/or forgettable. And social media? If there’s any time to go cold turkey, this would be it.
Most of us fog people already are exhausted by this campaign, and any exhilaration will be short-lived by the creeping suspicion that the 35-day wait of 2000 could look like a “Masked Singer” reveal next to this season-ender, which has the makings of a cliffhanger.
“The past is the present, isn’t it? It’s the future, too,” Eugene O’Neill wrote. “We all try to lie out of that, but life won’t let us.”
Our long day’s journey into night awaits.
Mail Tribune news editor Robert Galvin will be eating cold pizza Tuesday night at email@example.com