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February 25, 2014

Those News Anchor Threesomes with Frank and Claire Underwood

I know I’m going to be labeled a killjoy, as someone who has no sense of fun. Clearly the following thoughts are going to demonstrate how little I believe in the public’s ability to separate fact from fiction, or TV anchors from TV stars, or popular politicians from popular actors.

That said, I still have a hard time imagining Edward R. Murrow or IF Stone sitting down for a faux interview with the character, Vice President Frank Underwood. But what exactly did it mean that all these anchors participated, as themselves, in this second season of House of Cards? What did it mean, beyond nothing, for these broadcast journalist to identify themselves with a product that equates Washington to toilet paper?

If the premise of the show and the person of Frank Underwood (FU) and his Mommy Dearest wife, Claire, is that Washington is a slimy place – more slimy than anybody cares to imagine – then what is the effect of these anchors lending their professional identities? Unless we’re all reduced to fanboys and fangirls getting a thrill to see “real” people like Morley or Rachel or Candy pop up in Frank’s Washington, perhaps they thought (like a Tonight Show visit) an appearance in the ficticious version of the real house of cards drew less than a farcical comparision.

But then, if Chris Matthews’s and Ashley Banfields’s involvement only makes Spacey/Underwood look more real, perhaps the assumption here–given the credibility of the media in the face of the Nerd Prom, the photo op prayer breakfasts, the corporate pimping and birthday notices, and Hollywood on the Potomac (calling Marc Leibovich! or not) — is that the anchors couldn’t look any worse.

However, they come off like caricatures, as annoying gnats at best or enablers at worse, as if they really were cheap Hollywood actors in comparison to the actor, Ayla Sayyad/Mozhan Marnò, who plays the ”The Washington Telegraph” journalist. So there is Rachel going on and on, then off. There is Chris talking to nobody but himself. And there is Morley, the wrinkly dinosaur, who won’t back down but who dares to press Frank as if in tribute to CBS reporters long gone.

Maybe the vanity and professional incest in Washington is so matter-of-fact, one wouldn’t stop to think anything at all about the nature of the cameos. Perhaps the main outcome of the news personalities appearing in “House of Cards” is that it allows him or her to officially claim that, “Yes, I’m a talking head, but I also play one on TV.”

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