Wednesday, March 29, 2017

"interim Report On My Personal News Boycott"

Concerning my having not watched the news – cable news or any kind of news – since November the 8th  2016, a friend who reacted to the recent presidential election outcome more proactively observed, “You can stick your head in the sand, I suppose…”

That’s exactly what I’m doing.

They meant it as a criticism, but for me, it is a deliberate plan of inaction.

As in,

“If you don’t give him any attention, maybe he will stop behaving that way.”

It works with other bullies.  Why not with this guy?  (Although when you’re 70, you may be set in your belligerent ways.  Especially when they succeed.)

Truth be told, I have never been a major “Network News” aficionado.  The last national news broadcast I watched regularly, John Cameron Swayze was sending gift cartons of Camels to our forces in Korea. 

Which leaves cable news. 

Which is exactly what I did… leave cable news.  By which I mean, CNN and MSNBC, who, by their metrics of evaluation, got everything right. 

Except the outcome of the election.

And, incredibly, all of them still have their jobs.

All those commentators, pundits and expert prognosticators, who, had they been surgeons messing up that egregiously would be unable to show their semi-concealed faces in any Operating Room ever again. 

If they’d been equally negligent police officers – best case scenario – they’d be placed on indefinite “Restricted Duty”, taking “My cat’s up a tree “ reports for the rest of their careers.

And if they ‘d been a screw-up member of a team of acrobat brothers, their duties would be limited to holding the big pole with the seat on top of it that the other acrobats flip up into and be permanently demoted to “cousin.”

Cable news anchors?

Nobody got fired.

(And, had it been scrupulously embedded in their contracts, some of them might have actually received raises.)

Look, we all make mistakes.  The thing is to learn from your mistakes and educatedly move on.

And I don’t think they have. 

(As reflected in the arrogance of ad campaigns heralding “Now you need us more than ever.”  A more superior slogan, I suppose, to “Trust Wrong.”

Not that getting it wrong was their biggest or most important liability. (One which, I have a feeling, there are entirely unaware of.)

What is the mandate of cable news?   To identify the story and to explain its implications.  What happened in this case? 

They missed the story and had no clue about the implications.

Yes, it was an unusual election – one side playing by the rules, the other side playing to win.  Using a boldly counterintuitive M.O.

Normally, being caught in a falsehood –let alone serial falsehoods – and bragging about permissible gropings would be pretty much, politically, “Game Over.” This time, to his supporters, it made the candidate “refreshingly candid.” 

Cable news missed that.

“And you didn’t?”

Of course I missed it.  Because I was listening to cable news!  

I don’t get it.  At some point, these newsgathering organizations must have understood that the 2016 presidential election was demonstrably not “Business as usual.” 

Where was the reportorial “reboot?”  Where was the critical “half-time” adjustment?  Something unprecedented was going on, a veritable tsunami of visceral outrage in some quarters, for which the rebutting tools of reason, evidence and coherent argument were screamingly inadequate.  

Since those were the only weapons they had – and because they had always succeeded in the past – cable news stubbornly continued to use them.

Every night, I’d watch really smart people say the equivalent of “This shouldn’t be happening”, and it kept happening anyway.  What was their reaction?  A daily – with variations in content and always credibly articulated – repetition of “This shouldn’t be happening.”  And when things got shockingly crazy, “This really shouldn’t be happening.”   

That’s not an answer.  (Or a satisfying explanation.)

To repeat…

It’s not that they got it wrong. 

It’s that, because of who they are and the way they are conditioned to process information – and I do not mean with a “liberal bias”, I mean with an intellectual bias…

They didn’t get it at all. 

And, if they are professionals, garnering giant paychecks and unlimited “Face Time”…

They should have.

Will I ever watch cable news again?


As soon as they give me a good reason I should.

(Which will have to be relayed to me, because, as far as cable news is concerned, I have permanently “Gone fishin’.”)

1 comment:

Stu Best said...

You make a sound argument for tuning out TV news. We have to wonder why the networks, cable or otherwise, aren't looking for the next Woodward & Bernstein. Someone made the point that Les Moonves at CBS rakes in over $50 million every year. If he cut his salary by 10%, he could hire 50 top journalists to do field reporting and investigative journalism all around America. But the someone who made that point did it on the Russia Today cable network, so of course no one would pay any heed. But that in itself shows the problem. As biased, flawed, and crackpot as some alternative news outlets are, they are also the only ones giving voice to some valid criticism that for some reason is considered too delicate for mass audiences. But surely CNN, MSNBC, et. al are rich enough to hire a few good reporters who are able to dig beneath the surface of a story and tell us something we don't know. Unfortunately, they are lazy and just turn the camera on Trump or one of his lunatic sycophants, lets them talk, cut to an airhead host (male or female) who were hired for their looks, reap the ratings because it's like an accident that is gruesome but we can't look away, and hoard the profits for themselves. That's not news and it's not worth watching.