Election Day 2016
Time to Declare the Big Loser in 2016
While voting across America either already is finished or is underway today, I’m prepared to make an early prediction of the one big loser in this election: cable news.
While a year ago I might have guessed that newspapers and magazines would join cable news in the loser column, I’ve been pleasantly shocked at the intensity, the integrity, the bravery and the creativity of the major outlets providing print news coverage. A handful of non-broadcast outlets dared to dig and expose — especially The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek and The Atlantic — but you wouldn’t know it from watching cable news.
With cable news, it’s been as though “if one of our talking heads didn’t say it, it’s not newsworthy.” Or if it didn’t originate as a Tweet or Facebook post, it can’t possibly be true. Original reporting, actually gathering and uncovering news, was missing from the cable posers.
Off With the Talking Heads!
And, with the few exceptions of David Axelrod, Van Jones, Gloria Borger Nia Malika Henderson, I would frame and present the other talking heads with vivid posters of a guillotine. If I never see or hear the voices of Corey Lewandowski, Paul Begala, Donna Brazille, Frank Luntz, and KellyAnne Conway again, I will go to my grave in peace. And, you can add all the Fox News crazies to that list.
Entirely too often these experts have a clear bias, they have their talking points in front of them, they don’t listen and react to what others are saying, and they can’t wait — literally — for someone else to stop speaking to react. Instead, they blurt over one another and stick religiously to their talking points, whether or not they actually are on point.
A Case of Missing Facts — and Decorum
My viewing habit was to flip ever so often from the mainstream cable news programs to Fox News, and it was like I was suddenly watching Saturday Night Live. They got really basic, widely accepted facts totally wrong. They interpreted polls entirely differently than any other outlet. It was the television version of reading an editorial page, not bound by actual news and accurate information, but chocked full of wrong-headed opinions.
Virtually no moderator of any of these cable news line-ups of incessant panels of s0-called experts could maintain a hint of decorum, so with all the talking over one another — often shouting over one another — I may have missed something said that was remotely worthwhile, not pointlessly predictable.
Time for Some Introspection
So, cable news now needs to examine itself as closely as what used to be called the Republican Party. We can’t go through another election cycle with such nonsensical coverage of a serious news event. And, take that “Breaking News” graphic and burn it
Kudos to The New York Times’ relentless attempts to show us the real and shady Donald Trump. Congrats to The Washington Post for balanced fact-checking, which likely was seen by few people outside the beltway who don’t read the paper online. And, in my view, Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald gets the award for the best in-depth reporting of the entire campaign.
Whatever the outcome, however messy either side decides to make their objection to the results, journalism as we know it took a serious hit over the past 18 months. Cable news needs to rethink completely its purpose and and raison d’etre.
The American public deserves better.