In the 1990s and 2000s there was always one network you could count on for news that occurred beyond our borders that didn’t include the Middle East or extremism. That network was CNN.
But CNN is a cable news network and cable news networks have become obsessed with US politics as a ratings driver. It’s gotten worse with each successive election since the Florida recount. 2004 was worse than 2000. 2008 was worse than 2004. 2012 was worse than 2008.
So far the 2016 election cycle has been magnitudes worse than anything that has come before in terms of how ridiculous the nets have become in their political coverage. The networks will now cover any piece of useless minutiae if its political. There’s little actual news that has come out of the succession of debates or town halls.
It’s mostly about entertainment. It’s about hyping the politics with countdown clocks being plastered constantly as they count down to events days in advance. It’s about showing video boxes in the lower right corner of the screen showing so and so candidate at such and such an event…and event the nets aren’t actually covering with sound. It’s about hiring armies of pundits with little substantive to say other than talk about who is doing what in the horse race.
This does little to inform the voter. You get probing questions that rarely generate anything other than non-answers or benign boiler plate answers. What you get is the spectacle…to titillate or inflame the viewer and keep them tuned in.
I cannot really fault either MSNBC or FNC. They never had reputations as global news operations covering the world. They were chiefly local (US bound) operations with target bureaus in a few select locations of the world who would send US talent overseas en masse for certain specific events.
But CNN was different. It was a global operation. It still is largely a global operation. But it is two operations; the domestic and the international editions. Over the past 10 years those operations have been increasingly separate in their coverage with CNN US sticking to US politics and certain world issues, mostly national security related or with a Middle East focus. But even then, when big news happened in the world, CNN US could still be counted on to cover it. Not this year.
This year is different. In its drive to gin ratings on the back of the 2016 election, CNN US has abdicated its role of bringing the big (non-Middle East, non-terrorism related) news of the world, particularly of a humanitarian nature, to US audiences.
It started with Cyclone Winston pulverizing Fiji. It was the worst natural disaster to ever hit the nation, leaving tens of thousands homeless. Months later Winston’s after effects still cripple the nation.
But where was CNN? CNN sent an army over to cover Paris and then Belgium. How many did it send to Fiji? One? Two? None? And for how long? A week? Less?
2016 has seen one of the worst El Ninos in a generation hit the Pacific. While CNN US has covered it occasionally in between its near nonstop politics coverage it has been almost entirely from the impact it was having on America.
Did you know that this El Nino has unleashed one of the worst if not the worst ever incidents of coral bleaching to impact the fragile Pacific reef system? The Great Barrier reef is being rapidly killed off. Fiji is having its own die off. And the damage is also killing off reefs in Indonesia as well. Those reefs feed the smaller fish who feed the larger fish or feed the apex predator fish and we feed off all of them. Regardless of the cause, it’s a cataclysmic event that will take a decade to recover from. If it can recover.
And where is CNN? It’s in Wisconsin. It’s ginning up more newsless debates, town halls, and political exclusives to entertain its audience.
But this El Nino isn’t just killing reefs which puts pressure on the world’s seafood supply and will exacerbate tensions in the South China Sea as countries go further out to fish for less and less. This El Nino has unleashed worst ever drought conditions in the central Pacific where islands used to having some level of rain most of the year have hardly seen any in months.
How bad is it? It’s so bad some of the island nations in Micronesia and the Marshall islands are in danger of running out of water. Palau, which is not officially part of Micronesia, has drought conditions so bad it’s literally in danger of running out of water in a matter of weeks.
Ponder that for a moment. A nation of tens of thousands with no tap water. None. Zero.
And where is CNN? Has it bothered to send anyone to cover this?
CNN US has lost its way. It is so addicted to the ratings politics provides that major news stories that impact the world have fallen to the wayside with either scant or no mention at all. It would not surprise me if CNN viewers were asked about any of these stories whether they could even say that they knew about these stories from watching the network. These were stories the network in years past would have covered. Not this year.
To quote a presidential candidate’s famous phrase…CNN, you’re fired!