With fruit like the Old Orange Groper hanging so low and Hypocrite Hillary dodging daily WikiLeaks revelations, it’s easy for a critic of the 2016 election to overlook a major player in the sordid dark comedy that has made America the laughing stock of the world.
The reality show’s producer tends to fade to black behind a cast of villains and victims, heroes and heroines, good guys gone bad and bad guys pretending to be good, all of them working with a script too salacious for the kids to watch.
But let’s put CNN’s name in the credits and give just due to the 24-hour news network that is the go-to source of information when calamity strikes anywhere in the world. The first all-news-all-the-time station has come a long way since being founded by Ted Turner in 1980 to raised eyebrows from the established players in the TV world. If its election coverage is a benchmark of journalistic excellence, the CNN Turner envisioned has a long way to go.
The first thing that becomes apparent to an all-day watcher is that unlike conventional networks it only has one prime-time show that stretches from early afternoon when the target audience geezers are digesting lunch to nine o’clock when they’ve finished their cocoa and are heading for bed.
The producers break the monotony of eight hours of airtime by cleverly camouflaging the show’s length with different hosts that change throughout the broadcast day, leaving viewers to discover that the content and main players are the same whenever you tune in.
Things start out with Honest Jake Tapper of The Lead playing footage of the Bloviating Trumpet Blaster’s day-old gaffs, interspersed with snippets about Hypocrite Hillary’s ongoing e-mail issues, followed by analysis from a rotating cast of blowhards and sycophants, each of them seemingly chosen for a particularly annoying personality trait.
Honest Jake sets the stage for the pretentiously named Situation Room presided over by Wolf Blitzer, who disguises the similarity of content by titillating viewers with promises of more Breaking News before every commercial break, which means previously aired footage of Ferret-top’s follies and Hillary’s alleged lies.
Titillating Wolf had this political junkie hanging through the commercials for the first couple of days, waiting with tic-tac-baited breath for the next plot turn. But even an old fool can only be fooled so many times before figuring out that the white-bearded CNN sour puss is actually the Wolf who cried wolf.
Out Front’s Perky Erin Burnett makes a nice change in the late afternoon time slot, bringing a fresh female perspective to the same old footage, Ferret-top getting off the Billy Bush bus or bloviating in front of a crowd of trailer park boys and girls, interspersed with Hypocrite Hillary suppressing her joy at the Mango Misogynist’s latest blunder.
Perky Erin is not so much out front as she is in the middle of Titillating Wolf and Earnest Anderson Cooper’s 360. Although fabulously rich and a CNN star closing on 50, Earnest Anderson musters the enthusiasm of a cub reporter while airing the same old footage and moderating fights with the blowhards and sycophants.
He anchors the favored supper hour time slot, catching the geezers as they finish up dinner at five and reeling in the after work crowd with more unfulfilled promises of Breaking News, which turns out to be the same material that’s been airing continuously since Honest Jake recycled it from the day before on The Lead.
Earnest Anderson is the network’s golden man-child, and as such gets the plum assignments, like anchoring the second debate and traipsing over to Trump Towers when summoned by Melania’s handlers, who finally deemed her sufficiently prepped for a prime time response to her husband’s sexist tape. CNN hyped its upcoming exclusive all day with tantalizing teasers that left hyped-up viewers of the Melania infomercial feeling tricked.
Despite his intimate familiarity with the world of the rich and infamous as the son of Gloria Vanderbilt, Earnest Anderson’s scoop came off like a Barbara Walters audience with the Queen. With Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway lurking within striking distance just out of camera range, viewers watched him lob softball questions in reverential tones at the former model sitting motionless on a garish gilt-edged chair. The Columbia School of Journalism won’t be showing this turkey in its broadcast journalism class.
To be fair, Earnest Anderson occasionally introduces a few new twists to the show, adding a new blowhard or two and supplementing the daytime sycophants with the prime time heavies audiences love to hate. He even interviews an actual non-expert person now and then.
By the time Earnest Anderson gives way to Dapper Don Lemon on CNN Tonight, the daily newspapers and other working online journalists have broken new stories for the network to crib. Dapper Dan intersperses the old footage of Ferret-top’s foot-in-mouth pronouncements and Hypocrite Hillary’s e-mail obfuscations, with interviews with working journalists from other organizations explaining how they got the latest dirt. He finishes up by refereeing fights between the expert windjammers and sycophant heavies before giving way to a 360 rerun, a signal to viewers the CNN ‘breaking news’ day has come full circle.
It’s understandable that CNN’s resources might be stretched a smite thin, what with having to edit a two-minute clip of Haiti’s hurricane devastation along with freelanced montages of genocide in Aleppo and the impending fall of Mosul to fill in the odd programming gap. And don’t forget the network’s doctor-on-call, Sanjay Gupta, at the hospital pacing with the parents of twins joined at the head.
Still, you’d think the network could work up a new election graphic to replace the one that portrays Hypocrite Hillary as the beatific Flying Nun and Ferret-top as the snarling red-faced devil.
Everyone expects Fox News to be biased but come on CNN, you’re better than that.