Wrapped Up in Cable
What’s strangling you, America
Before I begin, I have to mention that the picture I’m about to show you was taken at work. CNN just happened to be on; I’d have never seen it otherwise. After the debacle that was CNN’s coverage of the Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act (the nearly half-hour of reports that it had been struck down which were, well, just flat out wrong), I swore off Chicken Noodle News. I simply can’t support a network that so egregiously places emphasis on being first, over being right. Not to mention that I’ve had about all the ridiculous zooming, circling, and giant TV screens on TV that I can take. But unfortunately this election cycle, it became unavoidably clear that the sickness has spread. Really I mean metastasized; maybe even gotten into our blood. The American media is desperately sick, and no one has a word to say about it.
On Tuesday, Election Day, the nation woke up in a cold sweat. Gallup was telling us the race was neck-and-neck yet, camera crews were dutifully hovering over election workers in battleground states, and pundits everywhere were in a tizzy. I wish I were kidding when I said that the countdown clock to the polls closing started on Monday afternoon. Thankfully I had somewhere else to be for most of Tuesday night and got to avoid most of the sniveling and drivel. But as I refreshed my phone every hour or so and the electoral math began coming in, it didn’t take long before the ending became clear. The race was called early in the night—though at least an hour before Romney’s concession—and although Florida felt like making life difficult for the nation, we had a clear President for 2013 before long.
I have to back up and say that this is what I expected would happen all along. Amidst the hand wringing and promises to move to other countries if such-and-so candidate won, regardless of what news outlet you paid attention to, the electoral math was never looking good for Romney. The New York Times put out a graphic the week before the election showing out of 512 possible outcomes in the battleground states, only 76 ended in Obama being defeated. To re-state that a little differently, that means that by this math the Republican candidate only had a 14.8% chance to winning. We could also call that “not a chance”.
Yet the never-sleeping undead creation that is 24-hour cable news kept us fretting. Of course they weren’t alone—the networks played along quite nicely. When your competition is weaving a fantastical fabrication of suspense you’ve got to keep up with the Coopers, right? And keep up they did—over days, weeks, and months, building a frenzy of information and opinions so loud that no voter could possibly think. Finally on Tuesday the election stopped this sick cycle, with the ending that was always coming anyway. Four more years.
That was the end, right?
Here’s an image from the patient zero of new Hearst-ism taken yesterday (November 8th):
48 hours after the election, CNN is still fabricating a story. “Why the race was closer than it seems” is an apt headline, because I really didn’t think that the 100-electoral-vote margin sounded all that close. And as for the Florida comment underneath…they do realize this doesn’t matter, right? We had a winner? A concession, an acceptance speech…the thing is over. Especially because all news outlets had been leaning Flordia for the incumbent with 99-100% of votes being in on Wednesday. And leave Florida out for a minute; not only is it still a far wider margin than most presidential races in recent memory, but Obama even won the popular vote, which I don’t think anyone was expecting to happen. Sheldon Alderson lost every one of the races he put money into. Karl Rove melted down on Fox News. It’s over, CNN. What are you doing?
It’s troubling to me that I have an easier time understanding the highly partisan mind magic of Fox’s current coverage than CNN’s. Fox at least has an agenda (I certainly never thought I’d say that)—CNN is just making drama for drama’s sake. They’re drumming up stories with big graphics and flashy logos, endlessly trying to justify their outrageous existence by being more and more outrageous. Focusing on smaller and smaller things, adding noise to the landscape.
It’s hard for me to know where to go from here. I’ve already boycotted their station but still they sit and rile the people, creating stories out of nothing and desperately trying to hide the fact that they do no earthly good anymore. And to be fair, I wish I could say CNN was the only offender. Every network has been bad. How else would the entire country have come to the common delusion that this racewas going to be tight—or even a “landslide for Romney”? What planet are we living on these days? What reality are we entertaining ourselves with through the news?
In the coming weeks the “Fiscal Cliff” will be the story paraded around, and after that probably Syria or more one-off comments run into the ground to ruin political careers. Not for any agenda, but like I said: for entertainment. The financial crisis in this country might be disturbing, but I think that our crisis with the truth is far greater. The fact that we can no longer trust the most prevalent sources of news in our society is disheartening. The fact that we do anyway, is disgraceful. And in my mind there is no doubt that the road we’re heading down will be damning.