How Low Can CNN Go
I don’t like posting about cable news. The target is too large. The critiques are better done elsewhere.
Besides, the mock outrage over irrelevant political foibles, the faux debates about important issues masked as “balanced” because political operatives trade the day’s partisan talking points, and the hyping of every item in the daily news cycle as BREAKING, tires my head.
But one thing that goes largely unsaid is just how boring and irrelevant it can be.
In a recent piece in the Columbia Journalism Review, Michael Massing writes:
More than anyone else, Wolf Blitzer is the face of CNN today. On June 7, he made a splash with a long interview with Bill Clinton in which the former president tried to explain away his earlier comments about Romney’s sterling business record and the need to extend the Bush tax cuts. In addition to the standard political questions, Blitzer asked him about his diet, told him he looked great, seconded Clinton’s comment that he hopes to be around for a lot longer, and asked him about his daughter Chelsea. Noting that he had recently seen her at a Kennedy Center event, Blitzer said that, watching her eyes, “I saw the best of Bill Clinton and the best of Hillary Clinton. You’ve probably seen that as well. I wonder if you’d want to talk a little bit about that.” Remarkably, Clinton said he was very proud of his daughter. For the rest of the day and into the next, CNN shamelessly milked the interview, playing snippets over and over accompanied by more commentary.
Seeking a respite, I tuned in to Piers Morgan at 9 p.m., only to find that his first guest was Wolf Blitzer, talking about his interview with Clinton! After a while, Morgan finally moved on, to an “exclusive” interview with author and transgender advocate Chaz Bono in which he asked how much “the fact that you decided to become a man” contributed to his break-up with his girlfriend.
Massing rightly points out that CNN International is pretty good. And the reason it’s pretty good is because its competition isn’t FOX and MSNBC but the BBC. It has to be smarter. It has to go more in depth. It has to move beyond news as entertainment and the vapidity that is our daily, domestic cable news fare.
And it does so. Too bad we can’t get more of that here. — Michael
Michael Massing, Columbia Journalism Review. Dumb and dumber: How far can CNN sink?
Video: John Stewart on CNN’s recent wall-to-wall coverage of England’s Diamond Jubilee for Queen Elizabeth.
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