TV: 60 MINUTES, S049E07: “The Battle for Mosul, The National Mood, The Zika Virus”

screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-3-59-11-pm#1 TV show, Sunday, 11/6/16

14.05 million viewers

What it is: A CBS newsmagazine. In this episode, correspondents embed with the Iraqi army fighting ISIS in Mosul, oversee a focus group about voters’ attitude towards the 2016 election, and speak with a doctor about the dangers of the Zika virus.

This episode’s first segment ends with its subjects in “a terrifying street-by-street struggle against an enemy who welcomes death.” Then the show moves on to the really dark stuff: The 2016 election! Haha, we have fun

As this episode aired two days before the election, the big attraction of watching it now is seeing whether the second segment was prophetic or boneheadedly wrong, and it turns out to be more or less the latter. It ends with a warning that voters are angrier and more divided than ever, and that whoever loses on election night needs to graciously admit defeat or else risk provoking disastrous unrest. The admonition is never directed specifically at Trump, but I don’t think anyone was expecting Hillary supporters to start going around throwing trash cans through the windows of Alabama nursing homes.

Also, the warning is delivered by the guy leading the focus group that the segment focuses on, Republican pollster Frank Luntz, and I guess credit to him for trying to head Trump’s “rigged” claims off at the pass, unless he actually did think Trump would win and was anticipating critiques of the electoral college. Either way, I’ve praised 60 Minutes‘ dignified approach to TV journalism before, but presenting Luntz as a voice-of-reason statesman shows the limits of their above-the-fray approach, as does the segment’s portrayal of Trump and Clinton as having basically equal negative attributes. That sort of equivalency is part of the reason we’re in the mess we’re in now – and speaking of, Luntz happens to trace our contentious political climate back to the Bush/Gore debacle of 2000. And hey, if electoral college fuckups get people angry, that’s exactly the appropriate response, and I don’t want to see more handwringing segments like this when people spend the next several years being justifiably pissed.

The last segment warns that we still have to be worried about Zika, which is great when the CDC is going to be run by Dr. Oz or whatever.

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