One empire, of course, is Time Warner. The perniciousness of cable monopoly is something familiar to media consumers everywhere. Cable companies are the folks who, knowing they have you over a barrel, won’t let you choose to add individual channels a la carte. If you want, say, ESPN, you need to take–and pay extortionate rates for–10 or 15 other channels, too. All sorts of communities experience this problem.
But there’s a more specifically local dimension to tonight’s story, for the absence of the debate on Berkshire screens also encapsulates (even if it is not caused by) the periphery’s political distance from life in the imperial metropole. People in the Berkshires sometimes speak, humorously (?), about seceding and joining Vermont, pointing out that our county (at least its northern area) can feel more culturally a part of the Green Mountain State than of Massachusetts. We don’t always feel that Beacon Hill offers much of a view of our terrain, either: if you’re a Bostonian and you’re mad about how your tax dollars were wasted on the overruns for the Big Dig, you should hear how people talk about that here. (This is one reason why Deval Patrick does so well in these parts: “outsider” is very much the right label to have in a place where citizens feel that insiders give them short shrift.) So it seems only fitting that as the contenders for the role of Governor battle it out, one county’s worth of citizens will have no idea what the candidates are saying. I look forward to reading the coverage: fortunately, we still get newspapers out here.