I now work in an area where, for whatever reason, there are TVs all over the place, with the volume down and closed-captioning on, and nearly all of them tuned to CNN.
So for the past several weeks I've been treated to seeing CNN all day.
I never realized how bad this network was.
Every day, the producers decide to take one story and beat it to the ground. For what seems like 20 minutes out of each half hour, the different hosts all tackle the same story with the same blaring headline on the screen underneath the talking heads discussing it.
On Tuesday the story was all about how Donald Trump's transition team is in disarray.
To me, a mere blogger, the obvious thing to do with a story like this would be to compare this transition with those of previous presidents of different parties than the previous administration. I didn't spend too much time researching this myself, because it isn't really the topic of this blog, but I did see that George W. Bush didn't get to start his transition in earnest until early December because it wasn't clear that he won the election. It seems that this is a salient fact when people are saying how far Trump is behind on this crucial task.
But I didn't see anyone in the hours of coverage even considering to look at previous handovers of power.
On Wednesday, the obsession was over the fact that Trump went out to dinner with his family without having the press tag along.
The coverage was similar to this NBC news headline:
The talking heads who were incensed about the idea of a president-elect having dinner with his family without them invoked "democracy" as the rationale for their "right" to follow him.
Apparently, there is a tradition that the "protective press pool" follows the President everywhere so they can record what he does in case he gets shot or says something stupid. But it is merely a tradition - it isn't law and it isn't a matter of "security" as Rachel Maddow said. The media went berzerk over what they regarded as a huge insult.
It is not a headline story, but CNN made it into their main story for several hours.
It was followed by some rumors that Jared Kushner is firing the most competent potential advisors to Trump, with more talking heads discussing how much of a mess the transition supposedly is.
I don't know if it is or it isn't a mess, but I do know this: neither does CNN.
I'm not a fan of Donald Trump. I'm quite concerned about who he is choosing to be in his cabinet and who he is choosing to advise him. But CNN, and the media in general, are not reporting on this important story responsibly. They float rumors as facts and uninformed opinion as serious analysis. In fact, their blatantly anti-Trump coverage (with the token talking head who supports him among the screaming headlines) makes me more sympathetic towards Trump wanting to go out with his family to dinner before he moves into the White House fishbowl.
I was already familiar with how superficial and meme-driven CNN's coverage of Israel is. But it is clear that it isn't only Israel - this superficiality is part and parcel of CNN itself.
This is not journalism. This is gossip disguised as news. CNN is no more responsible as a media outlet than Access Hollywood is.
There are real stories out there. There are a few real journalists out there. And right now, important things are happening. But so long as the CNNs of the world care more about ratings than about news, we'll hardly ever see any real news behind the bright spotlights of the Gossip News Network.
(Yes, I'm sure I would be just as critical of Fox News and MSNBC if I was subjected to them all day as well.)