“One thing is clear in Anchorman 2, and that is the importance of ratings,” writes Star Tribune contributor Don Shelby, a TV news guy. “In an attempt to get ratings, the buffoon Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) suggests that news is not really important, but that he could drive the ratings up by reporting interesting stories that will help take people’s minds off of the important stuff in their lives.
“Burgundy, in this telling, was the first to discover the car-chase video. No one had ever shown a car chase live on the air, so he demands the director put up the live feed of police chasing a vehicle on an interstate. He guesses at who is driving and why the driver is fleeing. Across town the competing news station is airing a one-on-one interview with Yasser Arafat. But Burgundy’s car-chase video wins the night. In fact, the other station cuts short the Arafat interview to go live to the car chase. When informed he’s being bumped, the Arafat character says, ‘I’d like to see the car chase, too.’
“The audience [at a recent celebrity-filled screening] is beside itself. Mort Crim, Bill Kurtis and I slink further down into our seats. We are watching a comedy about our own careers in a business that used to be about finding ways to make us all better informed. But something went haywire. Television corporations found they could make a lot more money with far fewer reporters by covering car chases and squirrels caught in downspouts and with extensive coverage of snowstorms, as though snowstorms come as any news to anyone living in this state.
“Every time the audience laughed hysterically, Kupchella and I glanced at each other, and our faces betrayed the same emotion.
“As we were leaving the theater, people were saying what a wonderfully funny movie Anchorman 2 was. Comedy is tragedy told with a laugh. For the old-time news people watching, Anchorman 2 is pure tragedy because it is essentially the truth.”