It is fashionable to poo-poo the mainstream media these days. The reasons range from the old and unsurprising — news companies are increasingly owned and controlled by larger and larger corporate entities that have a vested interest in pushing a narrow, specific point of view across not just editorially but in how they present every aspect of the news, from what gets covered to how it gets covered. The favorite media punching bag is probably Fox News, a phrase that almost works as an oxymoron depending on the particular story in question — to the more modern, as blogs, Twitter (shudder) and other web or Internet-based media provide a more immediate and less corporate view of events around the world.
This is all a big and serious-sounding buildup to me making fun of CNN not because they are beholden to their coporate masters or because they slant the news in disingeuous and even dangerous ways, but because they are silly. Two examples below.
Many news sites offer “non-scientific” polls on popular issues of the day, sort of the online equivalent of the “man on the street” interviews of yore. And you know how thoughtful and articulate those men on the street were! CNN has preserved some of this in its polls by asking questions that are at times utterly inane. A short time ago George Bush Sr. turned 85 and celebrated by making a parachute jump, a tradition of his. He jumped with a buddy in case something went wrong. Or maybe it was a Secret Service agent. Details. Anyway, here is the poll question:
One can only imagine the polls that got vetoed to let this one in. “Would you ride in a boxcar with a hobo?” “Would you collect shellfish with a B-list movie star?” “Would you limbo with an NBA team?”
Here were the results later that day:
45% of the people who took the time to participate in this non-scientific exercise in voting said NO, they would not skydive with a president. If I was a president, I’d be feeling a little hurt. America, why do you hate your presidents? Look for CNN to follow-up on this.
A recent story on CNN concerned the appearance of a UFO. The particulars of the story don’t really matter but here is the summary as it appeared in their headlines section:
UFO is an abbreviation for Unidentified Flying Object. We all know this. CNN knows this. Skydiving presidents and the people who won’t skydive with them know this. For most people, it is thought of as a term to describe “flying saucers” — extraterrestrial craft from outer space or dimensions unknown that may be ferrying aliens who may find us curious or delicious. But while this is the most common usage of the term, it literally means any object in the sky that cannot be properly identified. The fact that CNN put quotation marks around UFO suggests either the object was not really a UFO — which is not the case — or they have chosen to effectively mock the whole thing by suggesting that UFOs (flying saucers!) are silly and not real. All of them, you dummies! This comes during a time of unprecedented UFO waves appearing all over the world, so it dovetails nicely with the idea that mainstream media automatically rejects anything that doesn’t conform to their take on things, whether it’s UFOs, the “war on terror” or who won American Idol.
Oh, and the little short symbol next to the camera (the camera means it’s a video story)? It allows you to conveniently buy a t-shirt related to the story, like all important news, you know.