The Media Is Dedicated to Provoking the Worst Qualities of Humanity - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Media Is Dedicated to Provoking the Worst Qualities of Humanity
CNN’s Don Lemon (CNN/YouTube)

This week I’m spending a lot of hours in the waiting lounge of a hospital ICU in Marin, California. Working on my laptop, with earbuds in, I can still hear the television screen almost directly above me. It’s CNN’s John King, and he’s talking about the Feb. 27 filing in Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion lawsuit against Fox News and the alarming revelation that Fox Corporation chair Rupert Murdoch admitted in a deposition that some of the network’s most famous hosts promoted falsehoods about the 2020 presidential election.

Though King, CNN’s chief national correspondent, is ostensibly a “straight news” guy, he’s obviously reveling in the chance to talk about the travails of Fox News. Then again, as far as I can tell, so is just about every other reporter and correspondent on CNN: Kaitlan Collins, Wolf Blitzer, Abby Phillip. At some point, legal scholar and Harvard University professor emeritus Laurence Tribe pipes in to offer his thoughts, which hope for the impending demise of Fox as we know it. Another CNN contributor, I forget who, declares Fox isn’t really even news, but opinion.

Would you be surprised that the story is not even featured on Fox News’ website? But I’ll tell you what is: an article titled: “CNN on pace to have smallest monthly audience since Obama administration among advertiser-coveted demo.” Many CNN staples, including Anderson Cooper 360, The Lead with Jake Tapper, and Blitzer’s Situation Room, reports a gleeful Fox, are suffering the lowest ratings since the summer of 2014. The network separately cites Fourth Watch host Steve Krakauer, who says that CNN’s attacks on former President Donald Trump have lost the public’s trust. And, on Feb. 28, Fox reported that CNN anchor Don Lemon admitted that he “lost a lot of liberal friends” and was kicked out of parties after he “predicted” Donald Trump would win the 2016 presidential election.

Is any of this news? I’m not sure I even know anymore. CNN spends hours per day reporting on competitor Fox News. Fox News is daily reporting on competitor CNN. Is anything happening outside the world of 24-hours news networks talking about each other?

The 24-hour news merchants were the butt of jokes more than a decade ago for making practically every story into “breaking news” or a “special alert” after 9/11. Last year, CNN finally decided to cut back on the use of “breaking news” stories because, in the words of CNN Boss Christ Licht, “its impact has become lost on the audience.” Licht declared that it was his priority to dial back on partisan programming at CNN in favor of traditional journalism. “We are truth-tellers, focused on informing, not alarming our viewers,” Licht asserted. Right.

The “breaking news” phenomenon — serving as a harbinger of how smartphones would change not only society but our brains — was bad enough. But now the networks have descended even beyond trying to persuade us that the breakup of Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen or a question on Tumbler regarding whether a dress is blue and black or white and gold warrants the moniker of breaking news. The news, dear audience, is them.

I suppose the fact that the media would degenerate into endlessly talking about themselves is simply another symptom of our culture’s endemic narcissism. If we can flood our Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok feeds with celebrations of ourselves, why can’t our news, as well? Oh wait, they already do that, too! MSNBC even has its own TikTok page (brilliant!).

But to truly complete the circle, we’ll need CNN reporting on Fox News’ refusal to report on the Dominion election controversy. Fox News will in turn need to report on CNN’s biased coverage of that same controversy, and, perhaps for good measure, add in a vignette on how CNN refuses to cover its own declining ratings. (I probably shouldn’t be encouraging them.) If these news networks were actually people, we’d have them committed.

As absurd and asinine as all this is, there is a much deeper problem here, one that scholar Neil Postman identified in his 1985 book Amusing Ourselves to Death. Postman — a true Luddite’s Luddite who never even used a typewriter — warned that our dystopian future was more likely to mirror Brave New World and its sedated, soma-addicted citizenry than the oppressive surveillance state of Nineteen Eighty-Four. (Of course, given the nearly omnipotent and omniscient powers of smart technology, we seem to be enjoying a two-for-the-price-of-one deal.) What suffers, in turn, is both representative government and our souls.

The endless news cycle and its desperate demand to both appease and entertain its consumers has fostered an entire industry devoted to provoking the worst qualities of humanity. We are a people anxious and angry, depressed and disconnected. We are less citizens responsible for our welfare and that of our communities, and more aggrieved victims increasingly insulated from our neighbors, locked to our television screens and smartphones, which delight and distract, when they don’t enrage. The media’s comical self-obsession may represent self-parody at its best, but they also represent us, in all of our vanity and emotivism. Don Henley sang three years before Postman’s book, “Give us dirty laundry!”

Sign up to receive our latest updates! Register

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: The American Spectator, 122 S Royal Street, Alexandria, VA, 22314, You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Be a Free Market Loving Patriot. Subscribe Today!