Posted by: Tony Carson | 25 October, 2009

Fox and CNN just serve up pablum

Fox News isn’t a real news network and nor is CNN. They are to domestic and world events what Entertainment Tonight is to Hollywood happenings. No more.

Real news networks cover issues and stories from around the world, often about uncomfortable subjects from unknown places. To sit in front of a real newscast is to want to be informed.

When you dial in Fox or CNN you’re looking to be entertained.

Both cable networks languidly reach out to find the issue-of-the-day, then beat it around in various formats until the issue has been reconfigured into its desired clarity. There is no effort of objectivity, no effort to put the issue into a historical, moral, sociological or philosophical context. CNN and Fox seek titillation or outrage as an objective and they find the talking heads to create it.

On CNN, Sanchez hands the issue de jour off to Wolf who hands it off to Campbell who hands it off to Larry who hands it off to Anderson and each have their go at it by trotting out familiar faces from a stable of handpicked on-the-payroll pundits who deliver their predictable POV as entertainingly as possible.

Fox consistently grabs the ratings lead because what it makes of an issue is never in doubt. If CNN is trying to find the right hole to stick in the peg, Fox is hammering the peg into the same square hole every time and it could care less if it fits.

But where CNN hands off issues to eventuate their clarity, Fox starts off with the issue already in clear, bold focus: it is the fault of the Obama Administration: if Obama hadn’t screwed up there wouldn’t be an issue.

Fox’s has a far more entertaining approach than CNN’s plodding incrementalism, and, as entertainment, it is inevitably more captivating and fun.

Sean Hannity always muscularly presents the issue-of-the-moment as an Obama screw-up, then he trots out the people to agree with him. O’Reilly is far more devious. He exaggerates an issue then gets others, usually attract ex-prosecutors, to hammer home the pre-ordained verdict. Greta is but a loyal foot soldier trodding on with whatever bastardized issue that is finally handed to to her.

So what has happened in the world during the countless hours while these faux news organizations are re-hashing the issue de jour? You’ll never find out on Fox or CNN, you’ll have to turn to a real newscast for that.

There is no money in news. It’s expensive, it’s personnel heavy and it requires a fascination with the unknown. And, by its very nature, it is hard to digest. So screw it. Give them what they want.

And, increasingly, we want the ET of an issue. We want pablum, some of us with a little cinnamon, some with a few strawberries. But it’s the same pablum.

Staying stupid is a lot easier on us than getting informed. And on this, Fox and CNN are all to willing to deliver.

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