Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Cable's obsession with Hurricane Irene is a sign of a bigger problem

CNN, Fox, MSNBC have abandoned reporting for politics

Posted by Chris Haire on Tue, Aug 30, 2011 at 3:10 PM

I'm a man of obsessions. I get fixated on a person or a book or a movie or a website, and I just won't stop talking about it.

Right now, I'm desperately trying to break myself of my Nikki Haley obsession.

It's difficult, of course, thanks in large part to our governor's missteps and my own secret hope that one day it will be revealed that Nikki and Will Folks cooked up this entire scheme to get her elected during a particularly heavy petting session in Haley's Ford Escalade. And then, and only then, will I cease to care about who may have done what to whom.

Over the years, I've gotten all fanboy feverish over Scientology, rock 'n' roll recluse Axl Rose, Lost, kimchi, rabies, and Jim DeMint. The latter two I think are one and the same.

Heck, there are also a few that only City Paper staffers know about that are best left unknown to the public at large.

So, I understand the media's obsession with Hurricane Irene. I do. I do. I do.

But evidently, the media doesn't seem to understand. In fact, they are wondering if they were too obsessed with it.

Well, they were. And they weren't.

But none of that is really here nor there.

Why?

On Friday and Saturday and Sunday, I learned something even more important about the media, more specifically cable news.

Watching the endless onslaught of often meaningless, repetitive, and self-congratulatory coverage, it dawned on me that the problem wasn't that cable news was obsessed about Irene and devoted wall-to-wall coverage to it.

Nope.

It's that CNN, Fox, and MSNBC were able to easily abandon all the stories that they would have covered if there hadn't been a hurricane. Unfortunately, those stories are, by and large, about one thing and one thing only: the battle between the people who like the president and those who don't.

And it really doesn't matter which president it is, either.

It could be Barack Obama, George Bush, Bill Clinton, or Ron Fucking Paul. The names are different but the bullshit is the same — except when cable news is focused on that other fight, the one between the glad-handers and narcissists running to replace the guy that everybody is either fighting for or against. Ugh.

If the cable news networks actually had a team of reporters working on stories, stories that must be told now and not later, than they would have had no other choice but to run those stories alongside the hurricane coverage. But they didn't, and it's because they weren't working on any. It's not what they do. So they were able to replace one blanket wall of coverage with another.

Ask yourself this: Wouldn't you rather see stories about something other than the president and Congress on cable news? Wouldn't you rather see the type of stories that run on 60 Minutes or even during the nightly national news? Something with substance. Something that required somebody to get on a fucking plane and fly to East Bumblefuck, Miss., to have a face-to-face conversation with someone who has a story that desperately needs to be told.

I know I would.

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