I would like to share some observations with you this week. This will be a bit different than most posts here in the SCIAMAGE column.
I have been listening to a lot of FAUX News and CNN HLN News on SiriusXM radio over the last three months. The other morning my subscription ran out, and I have no intention of renewing it. It’s okay. It was a freebie that came with my car, rather than something that I had intentionally chosen. I figured while I had it, I might as well use it, right? Anyway, I started off listening to a lot of their POTUS channel. That’s supposed to be “unfiltered political talk,” but wound up being mostly the same boring talk radio drivel I could get on AM radio in the afternoon drive time. At lunch time, the Press Pool show was reporters interviewing each other, and the morning was about as interesting as listening to grass interviewing acorns about the life of squids.
It wasn’t long before I settled into a routine of listening to FOX News and flipping over to CNN. Occasionally I would divert over for some music. I didn’t listen to their NPR option, primarily because it wasn’t the news shows, but the “human interest” shows. While those can be fascinating, I really wanted the news and politics in the limited time I spend in my car.
FAUX News really likes to present themselves as out of the mainstream. They consistently refer to all of the other news sources as the “mainstream news media”. I suppose from one perspective, they’re right. They are not mainstream news, in that they’re really not news. They are infotainment in the same sense that Ron Popeil was. However, there are a lot of people who consider them news, and in that sense, their claims are simply more lies. Last year, for the 11th straight year, they dominated the cable news viewership with an average of 2.071 million in prime time. In fact, for their category, they dominate in every time slot. Every day. That is the very definition of mainstream.
One very striking difference between FAUX news and CNN when listening to them though is this, CNN is more like your local news station. That is, they spend a lot of time covering “human interest” stories and sports. They’ll cover fashion and entertainment. FAUX news doesn’t do this except to a very limited degree. Fox is very message driven. If the story doesn’t support their overall message of fear, the Democrats are evil, the president is the anti-Christ, and that the country has gone to hell because of that, then it doesn’t make it onto their air waves. They are very hard hitting. The facts they use are questionable at best, though sometimes accurate. Much in the same way that it has been said that the devil uses the truth.
CNN HLN, on the other hand, remains so fluffy and devoid of substance as to be nearly useless. Seriously, it may as well be E-TV these days. When CNN started back in 1980, it was actually 24 hour news. Certainly there were human interest stories and a little bit of the sports stories. I remember that I first heard about the Blue Man Group on CNN back in 1993. It was a short segment in the last 5 minutes of the hour, when it might have gone over to local affiliates, except that it didn’t here. Mostly though, they had actual news on. The stories were short, and lacking in any real depth, but they were actual news. Those days are gone. CNN does its best to be the national version of Every Town, USA’s local news. As a result, it fails to delivery real, substantial news of the national scale that is needed from a national cable news outlet.
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