Saturday mornng and I wanted to check the news. It seems that CNN had to interrupt its wall to wall Obama coverage to report on some killing.
CNN – Public relations for insane murderers.
It was to be a long day, with meetings in the morning and a company event in the evening. As I often do, I turned on CNN for background information while I brush my teeth and shower.
I learned a few things. Barack Obama was in London for the G20 meetings. He met with Prime Minister Brown. He was planning to meet with the Soviet Prime Minister. He and Brown had done a press conference. Michelle Obama was there. Carla Bruni Sarkozy decided not to come to London because she knew she would compare badly to Mrs. Obama. And, of course, there were protesters near the Royal Bank of Scotland.
The protester story was made more interesting by the tone of voice of the CNN anchors. The unspoken desire for a bloody riot was audible. They wanted blood. The lack of it made the story less interesting.
I knew all of this because it was repeated at least 4 times. Likely it was repeated more, but I turned to the Canadian stations (CBC and City-TV) and the BBC station to check what was occurring locally, globally and in the US. Not surprisingly, there were many stories occurring around the world. For the non-US stations, Obama in London was a short story, especially as the G20 summit has not yet started. During these repetitions, multiple talking heads found their way to the screen to spout meaningless opinion on the same topic.
I came back home at about 1:30 the next night. That made it almost 18 hours since I had turned off CNN. I could not resist. I turned on the tube to hear Anderson Cooper retelling the exact information that had been news 18 hours ago. I would not have written anything about this, as all Obama all the time seems to have become the CNN format. But then I heard what brought me to write this. Cooper had the temerity to use the word historic in relation to this news day.
Historic? An American president in London? What could possibly be historic?
So as I write this, I listen to Cooper and other journalists(?) and talking heads spouting opinion about the economy, the dinner by Jamie Oliver and the meeting with the queen.
I know that this is what CNN does. The have made the rational decision that this is what will drive the most viewers and revenue. It is not dissimilar to other US cable news stations in content or structure. It is more of an issue when I am in the United States for business. When I am in any other country, I can access non-US news to learn what is happening in the world, including the US.
Is this what American citizens deserve, shallow prattling and opinion being shown as news? Or is it a joke, with the watchers patiently awaiting a punchline?
I watch far too much US cable news. As I am in Canada, it is primarily CNN. However, since we are a part of the new world, I have access via Internet to most other outlets (i.e. Fox, CNBC, etc). These ceaseless voices provide an effective alternative to a white noise generator.
While it has likely been happening much longer, I have noticed that the airheads (talking heads?) have taken in the last months to reviewing political performance by its immediate effect on the stock market, as represented by the DOW. This is not a purely US observation, as even in Canada some airheads (reporters?) have tracked the PM’s success to the TSX.
There are a few things about this that confuse me. They include, in no particular order:
- Do stock indices immediately reflect political actions? Is their immediate reaction a rational response?
- Are the objectives of the brokers and traders reflective of government wisdom?
- Whose interest does the market reflect? I wonder this because of years of watching the market defy expectation – Good news bad, bad news good.
- Have the analysts who make recommendations for the major traders become more accuarate? I assume that there might be some improvement required since the analysts are Bears and Lehman did not do such a great job.
There are more questions but I am sure that everyone has their own list.
What astounds me is the way that the airheads have internalized this concept and do their best to bring more talking heads to add to the feedback loop.
As an aside, it is a pleasure watching Wolf Blitzer on CNN. He may have been, at some time, an excellent journalist. Now he is a walking, talking version of Chicken Little. If the news is a bit good, he is exuberant. A bit bad, terrified. Everything is a panic. If asked what face should be used for a caricature of cable news, it would be Wolf. I wish him well, he seems to be what his audience wants.