A CNN story triggered this post, but my target is broader than that. It seems to me that, more and more, the media seems to assume that their viewers/readers are idiots.
I’m not talking about the subject matter, or the lowest-common-denominator level of communication. Rather, what annoys me most is the obvious flaws in so many stories or claims.
I watch very little TV. I gave up on local TV news 25 years ago. 60-minutes type shows have struck me as one-sided sensationalist crap for nearly as long. Network news used to be better, but it isn’t what it used to be.
So for years, I relied on CNN and two Chicago sources – the Tribune and a radio news station (WBBM AM). WBBM diminished in quality some years back. So lately, it’s mostly been CNN and the Tribune online. In the last year, though, CNN has been annoying me more and more. It’s becoming more like the other crap out there. Stories leave out key information, or bury it.
Is it stupidity, bias, laziness, or a design to make a more sensationalist story? I can’t always tell for sure. But whatever the motive, it betrays an offensive contempt for the viewer/reader. W’re not supposed to notice the gap or omission.
Here’s a CNN video story from today’s main page. (I can’t figure out how to link to the video clip itself - it’s the one about community guns. If anyone knows how to do a direct link, I’d be grateful for instruction.)
I’m not going to reveal the question (until a later reply) that I shouted to the screen 4 times as I watched. By the third time, I knew what the answer was, and I knew it was being deliberately avoided. The reporter finally gives the key information towards the end of the story, but downplays it. It undercuts the whole story.
This isn’t an isolated incident. It’s the same obvious crap advertisers pull:
“Our bleach kills lots of germs! Studies show that Chlorox kills 99% of germs on contract. No bleach is better at killing germs than new Chorox Plus! And Clorox Plus has the Chlorox EZ-pour spout. None of those discount brands can say the same. That’s why Chlorox Plus is the best bleach you can buy!”
To me, the above ad screams: “Our bleach is exactly the same as all the other bleaches (except for the spout). All bleaches kill germs equally.”
It’s perfectly obvious from the word choice. But most people don’t seem to get this. Even fairly bright people.
Advertisements like this don’t really offend me any more. Ads aren’t supposed to be fair and unbiased, after all.
News stories, though, are.