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September 21, 2017
Media Crit


Another rant about the broadcast news media

There’s a media myth that’s taken for granted despite the obvious contrary evidence. We say there’s a 24-hour news cycle that needs to be filled so it gets filled with junk. Only the second part of the statement is true.

The three main cable news stations broadcast morning lite chatter shows. Then there’s a few hours of what passes for basic news coverage. At prime time there are three hour-long opinion fests with panels full of pretty faces and surgically unelderly faces with zippy personalities that may or may not have actual fact-based notions to present. There are paid spokespersons for politicians or interest groups – some with reputations for chronic disinformation and dirty tricks tactics, and occasionally a noted authority or two. All three prime time shows on all three cable stations opinionate about the same one or two topics day after day. Then all three shows are repeated through the night and on the weekend. MSNBC has fewer repeats because apparently it’s in the public interest to run their prison reality show series, which also runs on the weekend with interruptions by breaking news about this week’s mass murder.

Sometimes breaking news is a reporter standing around for hours waiting for updates and pointing at something which may or may not be pertinent to the something or other which has not yet been established as either a something or an other. Then for the following week that breaking news event is discussed by panels full of pretty faces and surgically unelderly faces with zippy personalities that may or may not have actual fact-based notions to present, paid spokespersons of…

During the entirety of the 2016 election campaign Donald Trump was the central topic of every panel discussion on every show and his speeches and rallies were broadcast at length because he was so newsworthy. All the other candidates were not so newsworthy. It was a day & night reality show about Donald Trump except when interrupted now and then by coverage of terrorist attacks and mass murders. There’s been practically no other news on the air between June, 2015 and October, 2017. Trump was given billions of dollars worth of free campaign promos. It’s true that the other candidates were mentioned but seemingly because they had roles in the Donald Trump For President reality show.

CNN knew that Roger Stone, Kellyanne Conway and Corey Lewandowski would always lie. CNN knew that Conway and Lewandowski were being paid to lie and Stone will always lie for the fun of it.  Yet it offered them a national platform day after day thoughout the campaign. They still pop up. It made for compelling TV, after all. And it provided opportunities for CNN stars to be seen reacting to those lies with gestures signifying concern on our behalf that a national crisis was being incubated in their studio.

Since election day all these broadcasts have been dominated by the same predictable musing about tiny little handsful of Donald Trump stories by panels full of pretty faces and surgically unelderly faces with zippy personalities that may or may not have actual fact-based notions to present, paid spokespersons of…  Every god damn day to this very moment.

There’s apparently some grumbling now among Democrats that the Russian/Trump campaign collusion investigation is coming up as a negative in the polls. If it is, it can be attributed to the endless redundant nattering about it all day and night on TV news. It’s so tedious and transparantly partisan that this Trump loather is offended on his behalf.

The mainstream entertainment biz runs on the premise that If something generates high ratings, do that thing and only that thing. But news and information should not be working on an entertainment paradigm. Is an autocratic state-run news system really much worse for society than a news system based solely on maximizing ad revenue for its corporate owners? And what kind of economic and political decisions do citizens make when they know virtually nothing about the world they live in?

Here’s one area where I actually agree with Trump – CNN is fake news. It’s part of a huge entertainment media conglomerate and its programming is determined by a veteran of the entertainment business, with no background or particular interest in journalism. Yet, like Fox, CNN presents itself as a news venue. They deliver to their ad-targeted demographic a helping of truth alongside a helping of lies and mythology in a banquet of posturing, predicting and shouting between commercials for pharmaceuticals. But in no serious way can they, or any other American TV news outlet, be truly called a news service. BBC is the exception but that’s because it’s a British company, not American.

Roger Ailes admitted that Fox News was not designed to be a journalistic enterprise and it’s never been taken seriously as one. Except for the millions of people who view it as their primary source of news and information. MSNBC is less show-bizzy but they too present panel after panel gassing over the exact same couple of stories covered by CNN. When they’re not running their prison reality show.

The world has been inflicted with an American president who is a mentally disturbed chronic predator. He was taken seriously as a presidential candidate only because he was framed by America’s for-profit-and-nothing-else news media as the only candidate worth covering… for 24 hours a day, seven days a week for 68 weeks. Meanwhile events of consequence were occurring during those 11,424 hours and the aproximately 6,500 hours since the election. Aside from Donald Trump and a few mass murders virtually none of those events, including the 2016 elections, were covered in a way that indicated that they mattered or in a way that it was news being presented by journalists.

— Polar Levine, News Goo Dissection, September 21, 2017

© Polar Levine 2017 content should not be reproduced elsewhere without prior permission

Polar Levine

working class college dropout who loves to learn, poke his biases and waste time looking around