For Light Instead of Heat, Try Fareed Zakaria’s Show

I don’t usually recommend television news shows. I find most of them bombastic and nonsensical. You can often tell from the titles that viewers will be treated like children with Attention Deficit Syndrome. I mean, what’s with “Campbell Brown: No Bias, No Bull”? Or “Hardball”? How can they expect to be taken seriously with names like that?

And claims like “the best political team on television” make me wince. Hasn’t CNN heard the saying that “self-praise is no recommendation”?

fareedBut I heartily recommend GPS, which airs Sundays at 1 and 5 p.m. on CNN. The host is a man named Fareed Zakaria (photo at right). His voice sounds vaguely foreign (to Americans), which is not surprising, as he was born in India. His mother was editor of the Sunday Times of India and his father was a prominent politician. But he speaks clearly and carefully, and what he has to say is worth hearing.

There is a lot more light than heat in Zakaria’s programs. Unlike terrier-like Wolfe Blitzer with his challenging manner, braying Chris Matthews with his manic demeanor, self-congratulatory Keith Olbermann, with his dizzying word games, or ingratiating Rachel Maddow with her sometimes sophomoric satire, Zakaria plays it straight. (That doesn’t mean he serves up made-to-order softball questions like Larry King, however.)

It is evident from Zakaria’s insightful questions that this man does his homework. And his depth of information and keen intelligence have won the respect of world leaders. They not only agree to appear on his show but also reply to his questions with thoughtful and thought-provoking answers. His guests have included President Barack Obama (when he was a U.S. senator); former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell; Queen Rania of Jordan; Condoleeza Rice (when she was U.S. Secretary of State); U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown; former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair; former U.S. Vice President Al Gore; Afghan President Hamid Karzai; Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao; Lee Kwan Yew (founder of modern-day Singapore); and Imran Khan, Pakistan politician (and world class cricket player) .

I won’t list all of Zakaria’s impressive credentials. I’ll just tell you that he graduated from Yale, is a former managing editor of Foreign Affairs and the international editor of Newsweek, and has written several books on world affairs, including the best-selling “The Post-American World.” And, oh yes, he has won various awards for articles and columns.  In 2007, he was named one of the 100 leading public intellectuals in the world by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines. And in 1999, he was named “one of the 21 most important people of the 21st Century” by Esquire.

But you would never know it from his deportment. He is unassuming and respectful of his guests, hears them out without interrupting, and avoids those questions some other news shows use to stir up controversy for controversy’s sake. Take it from me, there are a lot worse ways to spend Sunday afternoon than tuning in to GPS.