Tom Shales, the Washington Post’s vaunted TV columnist, is one of the few (if only) mainstream media writers so far to critique WNET’s new pubaffairs show Need to Know. And to say that he does not care for the show is a huge understatement. Excerpts:
— “PBS promises that this dreadful Need to Know show, which supplements vacuous televised drivel with fancily designed Web-page graphics, ’empowers audiences to “tune in” anytime and anywhere.’ Meaning that you are free to supplement inadequate broadcast material with unsatisfying Internet material whenever you inexplicably get the urge. Oh boy, what a boon!”
— The show “. . . arguably has to be seen to be believed, but you’re probably better off basking in benign and, in this case, nutritious ignorance.”
— Co-anchor Jon Meacham ” . . . looked forlorn, as if having been left out in the rain,” and partner Alison Stewart “looked as though she would have been much more comfortable in Clinton’s lap,” after the former president appeared earlier in a “fawning, fatuous interview.”
Perhaps other TV writers are giving the show some time to coalesce, as PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler suggests to viewers.