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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Why I Watch (So Much) CNN

I've been watching cable news way too much lately. I'd gone almost a decade without viewing much of it going into the 2016 primary season. I became glued to it because I felt like Trump's campaign was a phenomenon that was fascinating from so many perspectives, and that once November 8th had passed, we'd never see anything like it again. Of course, it didn't go that way.

I rarely turn to MSNBC. Scarborough is terrible, the mid-day programming is meh, and the prime time shows are preaching to the choir. When a big story is breaking, I make a point to watch Don Lemon, and also sometimes Erin Burnett and Anderson Cooper. Back in 2016, Lemon seemed like a deer in the headlights, but now he's pretty masterful at managing the otherwise awful CNN panel format.

Why do I bother? It's not like I'm going to learn anything there I'm not going to lean on the internet. In fact, cable news is, for the most part, months behind. I mean, it's been pretty apparent since late 2016 that Trump's campaign had colluded with Russia to steal the election, and we knew in October 2016 that the New York branch of the FBI was conspiring against Hillary. Most of the news hasn't even gotten that far. But that's why I watch CNN. I learn just how far the press has gotten in their willingness to call a particular spade a spade. In the case of Trump/Russia, the press would barely acknowledge it at all until Buzzfeed published the Steele "dossier." They were skeptical about it for a long time, but hookers and pee make for good TV. The next big milestone was probably the Comey firing, when the talking heads could start musing about obstruction of justice. However, almost no one would actually discuss WHY Trump obstructed justice. As more Russia news came out, such as the Trump Tower meeting, much of it was discussed as more or less as a series of isolated incidents.

Things are changing now. Trump's attacks on Mueller, particularly the revelation that Trump tried to fire him, is starting to elicit talk of Trump actually covering up crimes, and sometimes, the TV personalities will even allude to those crimes being Russia related. Occasionally, they'll discuss whether or not a sitting President can be indicted.

But they haven't gotten to where we were (though that could've changed tonight; I haven't gotten my nightly Lemon fix yet) in December of 2016. We knew that Russia had meddled in the election, with the help of the Trump campaign, and that the election was stolen.

I don't know whether they'll get there, but I'd say the next steps are for the CNN types to acknowledge, on air, that Trump cheated. Then they'll need to discuss what the consequences should be for stealing an election. Finally, and I don't think this'll happen, CNN panelists and perhaps hosts will call for an overturning of the election. That's what I'm watching for.

The fact that there's progress at all makes this situation different than in the past. During the Bush years, the press rarely acknowledged that the administration lied us into war in Iraq, or that the administration ignored pre-9/11 warnings.

The mainstream press will just never be out ahead of these types of stories. I've been following it for 20 years, I'm nearly 40, and I know by now that I'll never be satisfied with what I'm watching.

But we're moving. And as the mainstream press moves, mainstream American opinion will move with it.

Stay tuned.

1 comment:

  1. CNN has gotten so bad - why bother with the two-sides panels and surrogates. it's like watching a Jerry Springer show. I made the complete switch to MSNBC months ago. Occassional foray to Don or Erin (more to escape Chris Matthews or Brian Willams)