CNN: Unreflectively Liberal, Consumed by Triviality
How large were those "large" demonstrations? Elaine Quijano, one of the few decent reporters at CNN, said that in Bogota, Colombia the demonstrators totaled about 1,500. The population of Bogota and its largest suburb is approximately 8 million. In Sao Paolo, Brazil, the number of demonstrators was about 7,000, but the population of the Sao Paolo metropolitan area is roughly 19 million.
Gee, what's wrong with CNN? Why can't it get the stories right? Or at least show sense of proportion? Why are tiny gaggles of leftists the big story about the President's visit to two important countries.
The network is able to engage in tough questioning of conservatives and Republicans who aren't named Chuck Hagel. However, it seems incapable of any form of self-questioning about the way it reports the news. If need be, why not look more deeply into what kind of future the Colombian and Brazilian demonstrators have in mind for their countries? Hint: it won't be one where a free press is welcome.
William Schneider, the network's "senior political analyst" is nothing short of odious. His specialty is releasing and analyzing polls. When the polls reflect badly on President Bush, Schneider features them. When they move in Bush's favor, as they have recently, Schneider generally dismisses them as "within the margin of error." As a political analyst, he might as well be wearing a donkey suit.
When it comes to covering someone who's exercising free speech, CNN usually spins the story on the basis of whether he or she is friend or foe. When Joint Chiefs Chairman General Peter Pace expressed his personal view that homosexual acts were "immoral" (a view I don't exactly share), the network went bonkers. Apparently, the only time candid speech by "senior officials" is appropriate is when it comes in the form of a leak to someone at CNN.
That outlet's big issue seems to be whether General Pace will "apologize," which he says he won't. In fact, if he states his sincere beliefs on a controversial issue, why exactly should he apologize? With all General Pace has contributed to keeping American liberties intact -- as compared to CNN, which has done next-to-nothing -- he certainly retains his First Amendment rights. After all, freedom of speech is not exclusively the preserve of left-leaning types.
Then, we have Richard Ware, the network's Middle East correspondent. Generally, his view is that everything the U.S. (and other democratic forces) in the area is bad. His theme is: "It's unspeakably awful here -- and getting worse." If he has any understanding of the issues involved in Iraq and elsewhere, he's keeping it to himself. If he went over to al-Jazeera, it would be a smooth transition.
There are good people at CNN, including the aforementioned Elaine Quijano. Another quality performer is Kyra Phillips, one of Art Buchwald's youngest friends. She was once accused by the Democrats' Lady MacBeth, Nancy Pelosi, of "carrying water for the Bush Administration," which shocked Ms. Phillips and verified the fact that she must be doing something right.
In recent months, CNN has focused mainly on the "story" of Anna Nicole Smith, her dysfunctional relatives, her many lovers, and her six-month old child. True, Ms. Smith was a human being, but she was one worthy of very little attention. The one good line about her on CNN was Jeffrey Toobin's comment that she "was an ATM machine with a big chest."
The main relief from Anna Nicole Smith nonsense occurred one day with the "Breaking News" that Britney Spears had shaved her hair -- and then had gone into, or out of, the inevitable "rehab." These stories were in fact somewhat more interesting than when CNN spent hours watching " Michael Jackson's motorcade" go somewhere or other.
The cable new channel is a monument to all that's wrong with most electronic journalism: unreflectively liberal and consumed by triviality. It presents a view of the world that's fragementary, incoherent and ultimately pointless. It owes viewers more, but they're probably unlikely to get it.