Got up today and turned on CNN, eager to see what Donald Trump’s latest move might be, whether he is going to build a wall around Miami, or maybe threaten to air-drop the 82nd Airborne into the strawberry fields of California while Marines from Pendleton march on Sacramento.
Instead of an informed discussion, I got what sounded like a bunch of children trying to decide what news is, and why Trump’s paid advocate Steve Bannon might be wrong in stating that “The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for awhile.” Really? On CNN? Are you guys going back to the early days of being the “Chicken Noodle News?”
I know about this, because several months before CNN went on the air they offered me an anchor job. I had just signed a contract with WMAR-TV in Baltimore, so I had to say no to CNN, much to the chagrin of the executive who offered me the job and who yelled at me on the phone for a good long while before hanging up. Some months later I was happy to have refused the position, as CNN came to be known as the “Chicken Noodle News.” They were a startup after all, and it took them a while to get their act together. One wonders if they aren’t slipping back in time. That’s what occurred to me as I watched this morning, as they debated the value of Steve Bannon’s outrageous and nonsensical banter about the press keeping “its mouth shut.”
One panelist, Brian Stelter, actually said there are so many different kinds of news out there now (paraphrasing) that for some it’s becoming confusing…. No, there are not. The fact that Stelter doesn’t understand this and that he’s hosting “Reliable Sources,” may be an indicator of just how much trouble broadcast journalism is in.
News, is objective, fact-checked for accuracy and delivered by actual journalists who label opinion and speculation for what they are. News, really is “A first rough draft of history.”* Everything else, is either a documentary, entertainment programming or BS. There is also “Gonzo Journalism” and the “New Journalism” literary movement, but all that is beyond basic, real , hardcore news.
Oh, and since the panel on CNN didn’t seem to get it, real news people, are supposed to be locked in an adversarial relationship with politicians. That’s not something you need to get all mushy and apologetic about, it’s the way things are meant to be. That’s why the founders included free speech in Amendment Number One. Intro to Journalism, remember?
Stop trying to be so nice to people who are being paid to hijack the truth for an Administration that revels in misdirection and outright lies. You should be outraged that they are treating the press like a bunch of fools, not sitting around discussing whether they might be right, sounding like you’re making excuses for an attack on press freedoms – or have we slipped so far over into “Infotainment” that it will be impossible to salvage what’s left of real news? Maybe that’s the real question and why there are those who even bother paying lip service to a paid advocate like Steve Bannon?
Oh sure, it’s necessary to report on what Bannon says, but don’t act like it requires a lengthy explanation including an analysis of what’s wrong with “the media.” That just implies that he might be right. Come to think of it, maybe he is. Maybe the old fashioned “press” is dead and gone, except for a few bastions of righteous indignation like The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post. Maybe it’s wrong to be upset with CNN and their infotainment noodle soup approach to news, making it more acceptable to their audience and more attractive to advertisers.
In the final analysis it’s all about the money, right? Who cares about history and getting it right and all that other stuff when the bottom line is at stake? Then again, you have to wonder. Is a country in which money trumps truth sustainable?
*Quote attributed to various sources. The argument over who said it first continues.