Documentation. Witnesses. Facts. Truth. That's what they're afraid of.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Closing Out 2020 and Looking Ahead (or, My Year Living with CNN)

So, I haven't been around here much for a number of reasons. For one thing, my professional life has been absurdly busy. Also, the avalanche of news has just been overwhelming and it's been easier to address it all in real time on Twitter. I'm thinking that if things do slow down this year, I might be able to talk about a single thing for more than five minutes before the next thing happens. I mean, in 2014 I used to grumble on a lot of weekends that the news was so boring... maybe we'll get there again. I had a few extra minutes this morning, and I figured I would put up some of my predictions for the coming year. Since I began sheltering at home in mid-March, my monitoring of trends among the talking heads on CNN has gone from checking out maybe an hour or two of CNN per night to not only having it on in the background about 12 hours a day, but DVRing it from like 10 AM Eastern until midnight. Basically, my lenses to the world for almost this whole year have been Twitter and CNN, so that's what you're getting here.

Addressing the biggest disaster... I think we're in trouble in terms of COVID. We haven't seen the worst, and this prediction might be conservative:

The slowdown in vaccinations is scaring me. The new mutation of COVID-19 might not be resistant to the vaccines, but the next one might be. If we don't get close to herd immunity by the time it starts to get cold again in late 2021, we may never see normal life again and that's a thought to horrific to contemplate, though not an implausiblity.

Turning to Trump's fate, I've been saying for quite some time that we haven't seen the real consequences of the Mueller Report. More specifically:

And the fate of the world could hinge on what happens in just the first week of the new year:
Today's the first time that if you put a gun to my head, I'd predict the Dems take the Senate. Which, after all the handwringing about November 8th, means we had a pretty good Election Day. We lost some seats that we only won in 2018 because we had an excellent year, but were hard to hold in a good year. I'll happily take the White House, an advantage-Dem tied Senate, and a narrow lead in the House after the last four years.

To close, I'll get a little meta here and talk about what CNN has been doing and where it might be going. Back in early 2018, I wrote: 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.


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. 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.
They didn't quite get to the point where Trump's theft of the 2016 election made CNN's sirens blare 24/7, but Ukraine and impeachment, along with Trump's open hijacking of the Postal Service and his refusal to let go since November 8th have opened their eyes to him. It also took several of their on-air personalities getting coronavirus, Trump causing the deaths of 300,000+ people, and Trump gassing their own reporters to wake them up:


Since about May, I actually think they've been great from top to bottom. For one thing, in the spring, they basically served as Black Lives Matter's equivalent of what Fox News did with the Tea Party a decade ago. Then there's the fun of Kaitlan Collins and Jim Acosta sparring with the odious Kayleigh McEnany: 


With a few notable exceptions, like (ugh) Rick Santorum, most Trump supporting Republicans almost never show up and are not welcomed. I regularly hear "sedition" and "trying to overthrow a democratic election," and there's been the fun development of John Harwood competing with Mary Trump to see who can psychoanalyze Trump the most:
As well as Jim Sciutto snarking away:

And Brianna Keilar even anti-bothsidesing:

Not to mention Chris Cuomo saying what he really thinks...

CNN has, mostly because they haven't had much of a choice, become the liberal network they've been long accused of being, and never were. They've been on the side of the good guys. Will they stay there with Biden in office? I don't know, but I think they'll be better than they were before Trump threw bleach all over the White House Press Corps.


 Anyway, I'll let CNN have the last prediction: See you next year!