The Death of CNN’s Soul

I went to Quality Seafood this evening, sat at the bar, and ordered a beer and a dozen on the half-shell. They had the TV at the bar tuned into CNN, and since the place was packed and so loud you couldn’t hear the oysters’ tiny death screams, the TV was muted and viewers only got the visuals. It was instructive.

For the solid hour-plus I was there, the entire discussion was about the Michael Jackson tapes which have surfaced, apparently recorded by some rabbi, who was the guest on Larry King Live. From what I could gather, they were going into detail about the cruelty of Jackson’s father, the various women in Jackson’s life, how Lisa Marie Presley never asked for a dime from Jackson, blah blah blah.
I had thought that all this Michael Jackson crap was behind us, and hoped that the public had lost interest, and thus the so-called “news organizations” would go back to doing their jobs – namely, to give us some news.
But apparently not. Apparently it was more the case that they simply ran out of new Michael Jackson crap to drone on about, but now that they have something new, they’ll distract us with this shiny object for as long as possible. Even better, for the entire duration of the Michael Jackson tape episode, they were teasing tomorrow’s show, when they’ll be talking to Mackenzie Phillips, now that she’s got a new book out talking about how she used to have sex with her father.

All this was a bad enough reflection on CNN, and the broadcast news industry in general, until I noticed the deal-closer. It was right there on the bottom of the screen, in a font size so small that I would have missed it if it hadn’t been in HD. It was a tiny news scroll, which included several other pointless pieces of gossip surrounding a simple headline: “Two US Soldiers Killed in the Philippines.”
At least I thought that’s what the news scroll said. It went by pretty fast. And now that I’ve returned home, I can’t find any mention of it on’s front page – what with all the hard-hitting news on top of their front page about other filmmakers demanding Roman Polanski’s release (including Woody Allen, who married his step-daughter), something about a trial involving an attempt to extort money from John Travolta, and Jon Gosselin being fired from his TV series.
Buried in the small print on the front page are also stories about Republicans calling Obama the “enemy of humanity,” and new evidence of rainforest devastation, both of which I consider to be actual news.

But as of 9:15 Central Time, I could find nothing on about the U.S. service men or women killed in the Philippines.

Wouldn’t it be great to live in a country which valued the lives and personal stories of those soldiers who were killed overseas, and considered their passing to be news- and interest-worthy enough to carry the network’s ratings?

Wouldn’t it feel good to have a cable news channel which claims to be the worldwide leader in news, which chooses to do a bit of leading and news-reporting, instead of investing a full hour on the lurid life and times of the carnival freakshow Michael Jackson eventually became? Has it even occurred to them, or anybody else in the broadcast news industry, that attention might well be paid, for example, to educating viewers on rainforest devastation, explain why it’s happening, and educate us on why it matters? Wouldn’t it have been cool to devote that full hour of air time to something meaningful?

Incidentally, in the unlikely event that a CNN executive gives a damn and wanders to this site because of some fluke of a Google search, he or she might note that I found that the New York Times is reporting that the two soldiers who were killed in the Philippines were apparently killed by a roadside bomb.

At the time, the Reuters dispatch picked up by the Times doesn’t even mention the soldiers’ names. I guess they’re not important – like Michael Jackson or Mackenzie Phillips are. Maybe they’ll add the names later as the story develops. But I bet CNN doesn’t devote an hour to ’em.

Some Democrats invest a lot of emotion in hating Fox News for what they are. Perhaps we should spend a little time despising CNN for the shadows-of-their-former-selves they have become.

And perhaps Americans, who ultimately cause the financial health, or lack thereof, of any news organization-of-record, might invest a little thought into how much societal rubber-necking we do, and how seldom we demand an education on current events from our so-called worldwide leaders in news.



5 Responses to The Death of CNN’s Soul

  1. Big Uncle September 30, 2009 at 6:46 am #

    Fox, of course, was born with two right hands, two right feet and no brain at all. Then MSNBC found an audience by turning left. All this left CNN trying to decide whether to shit or go blind. They opted for both. It smells real bad, but they don’t have to see it.

  2. Jack Josey Newman September 30, 2009 at 9:21 pm #

    Actually, my CNN time has dwindled greatly, my MSNBC time has been decreasingly entertaining since the election (but still is useful for the draining of the GOP/Faux News verbal pustules), and resort nowadays more on BBC for world truths and current issues of merit, the last two nights have seen the Newman household in thrall to the brilliance of the PBS special on national parks. We still didn’t learn the names of the great kids who were blown apart wearing our uniforms, but we avoided the puny, worthless panderings to society’s moral and intellectual dregs. Perhaps someone local could find a way to reliably report our war caualties to us, or is there already a way to do that?

  3. Brad Castro October 1, 2009 at 3:06 am #

    I gave up judging Larry King for his tabloid ways a long time ago. These days I’m incredibly impressed that someone 130 years old can still be that cognizant and actually maintain an hour long conversation, however non-newsworthy it may be.

  4. cactusflinthead October 1, 2009 at 1:17 pm #

    I hear more about the casualties of war over at the Great Orange Satan aka DailyKos than anywhere else. Those diligent folks have regular memorials in the I Got The News Today diaries. IGTNT are all too frequent there and noticeably absent elsewhere. News is where you find it. Like this locker room of politics here and your fine piece about the dear lady from Waco last year that passed. Where else was I going to read it? As soon as there is some car wreck of a story like Micheal Jackson then it is time to avoid CNN and some of the shows on MSNBC for a while.
    Trying to remember the last time I watched CNN with any regularity…..sorry, can’t.

  5. Anonymous October 1, 2009 at 6:12 pm #

    George Snuffleopolous, while often too kind to right-wing nincompoops, at least has every name of every member of the military killed in action on his “in memoriam” segment every Sunday. I appreciate that.
    Don’t Mess w/ Pink

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