Keep watching the Simpsons

I applaud Benjamin Sunderlin, who wrote recently to encourage us to participate in our collective political discourse in “War demands discussion” (Oct. 29). To that end, Sunderlin criticizes those who forego the news in favor of shows such as “The Simpsons” and “King of the Hill,” two animated series that run during the 5:00 and 5:30 p.m. slots, when many networks run local and national news programs.

There is just one problem: Local news is worthless. The only thing I learn from the local news is that the Vikings are playing poorly and that virtually all greater metro crime is committed in northeast Minneapolis by black people. The former is unimportant; the latter is a misrepresentative lie.

The national news programs are not much better; most of them are now indistinguishable from hour-long newsmagazines such as “20/20.” Standard 5:30 p.m. national news programs rarely devote more than a sound bite or two to any single news item, and this is hardly sufficient to inform the average news consumer. (“Jim Lehrer’s News Hour” on PBS is a notable exception to this disturbing trend.)

The irony of Sunderlin’s argument is that Mike Judge and Matt Groening – to the extent he is still involved in the creative direction of the animated “The Simpsons” series – offer us much more insightful political and social commentary than Peter Jennings or Tom Brokaw could ever hope to.

Stick with “The Simpsons” and “King of the Hill,” and for substantive political coverage turn to, National Review online or The New York Times.

Jordan Kolar, Law School