BREAKING NEWS: THERE IS NO NEWS
WHY IS IT THAT EVERY TIME I TURN ON CNN, FOX NEWS OR MSNBC, THEY’RE ALWAYS CLAIMING TO BE ON TO SOMETHING BIG?
by Alex Bennett
for HUSTLER Magazine – May 2010
While I’m doing my radio show on Sirius XM, we usually have a TV tuned to CNN. More often than not, when I look over at it, there’s a graphic announcing “Breaking News.” But the story it heralds is usually very inane. That’s one of many things wrong with TV news. Because of their need to fill the airwaves 24/7, producers take a small news item and make it into something big. Breaking News: Obama Pardons a Turkey; Breaking News: Balloon Boy Speaks; Breaking News: Dr. Sanjay Gupta Has H1N1.
I often feel like a dog chasing a ball that my master only pretended to throw. I see “Breaking News” and jump to attention. Ninety-nine times out of 100 it amounts to nothing. Television news is becoming a kid who cries “Breaking news!” The words news and breaking have been cheapened. As a result, real news gets obscured.
The “Breaking News!” tag should be reserved for blood, carnage or Joe Lieberman caught in a tryst with a young boy. It should signal an event that impacts my life, not another car chase down the Santa Monica Freeway.
Am I complaining about nothing? Am I turning into Andy Rooney? I’m concerned that when there is something really important, it’s going to be difficult for us to fully grasp. One minute the “breaking news” is that H1N1 is a horrible killer; the next minute it’s just a bad cold. Mammograms are useless before 40; five minutes later they’re vital. I never hear the “breaking news” I really want: “Men should check all women’s breasts for lumps—selfexams found useless.”
The so-called news we’re being fed is trivial. The “Balloon Boy” hoax is a perfect example. This event would have had no traction if it weren’t for the networks’ 24/7 news addiction. First, the networks followed the dramatic saga of a six-year-old who may have stowed away in a balloon that became airborne. Never mind that the balloon was so small and flimsy, it almost certainly couldn’t carry the additional weight.
The networks wanted to believe the tall tale so they’d have something to report. It was only after the hoax was revealed that the story had any real news value. Although headlines blared that the parents were charged with filing a false report and other offenses, the people who actually should have been prosecuted were the network honchos who turned an obvious publicity stunt into a major story.
Another case in point: the news media’s obsession with Sarah Palin. This woman of dubious distinction was a city councilwoman and then mayor of Wasilla, the meth capital of Alaska. Next she became chairman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Commission only to quit after a year. Somehow Palin became governor, then had a stint as the Republican V.P. running mate of John McCain. Shortly after losing that race, she returned to the governor’s job and, true to form, resigned (amid rumors of malfeasance) after only two years in office.
Then this piece of Alaskan trailer trash writes a book. Her ability as an author makes Dan Brown look like Tom Wolfe, yet the news people are fish to the bait. Remember, she is now nothing—not a governor, not a congresswoman or senator. Palin’s only distinction is that McCain made the worst mistake of his life by choosing her as his running mate.
Even so, reporters flock to Palin like flies on shit. During the ex-gov’s recent book tour, they followed her bus around the country. At every stop she’d get off the bus, hold up Trig (her Down syndrome baby) like he was the Lion King, then get interviewed for local news shows. So-called journalists treated Palin as if she actually mattered—vaulting her to a status she scarcely deserved—while she was just using them to sell books. Reality was again superseded by the big distortion.
Apparently news is not news unless the news sources say it is. “Balloon Boy,” which had no effect in any way on your life, became news because it would get eyes. Meanwhile, a financial collapse in Dubai, which does actually impact your life, gets very little attention because it’s not a ratings magnet.
The bottom line is that the 24/7 news networks present only the illusion of news. Unfortunately, for most of us it’s the only news we get. Americans are not stupid; they’re just uninformed.
Alex Bennett is a longtime HUSTLER contributor. The two-time Emmy winner, who broke into broadcasting as a teenager, currently calls Sirius Left 146 his radio home.
MAY 2010 – HUSTLER Magazine
Buy this issue – $15.00.
Comes with full length DVD and free shipping!
Buy the digital issue for immediate download – $8.99.
Includes 4 movie clips in the issue!
Tags: Alex Bennett