Cable News Networks Send Me Away


The Saturday morning of the announcement of Joe Biden as the Democratic Vice Presidential candidate is exactly what’s making me nervous – or depressed – about the television news business between now and election night.

When political news hits, many have been conditioned to turn to cable news, because you know at least they’ll be talking about it.  You know, since the networks might have another important reality show about dogs on.

So Saturday morning at about 7:30 Pacific Time I turned on the television to hear some old-fashioned non-partisan analysis of the Biden selection.  And as a viewer and a fan of good journalism I was mortified.

In alphabetical order, here’s why the three cable news networks collectively sent me sprinting away from TV to the Internet to search for analysis.

CNN started the 7:30 half-hour as if their CNN Newsroom show was just starting, which made sense.  Then at the top as they were talking about the Biden story, they had a silly shot of the driveway of Biden’s house.  But any viewer who just joined on the half-hour had no idea what they were watching, because at the open CNN neither identified what you were seeing (literally a bunch of people standing in a driveway) by on-air graphic or verbally.  If you didn’t know that was Biden’s driveway from seeing the shot the previous night or earlier that morning, it looked like a mistake by CNN.  Then they cut to another building.  This one I had no idea what it was.  And CNN didn’t help me out there with an ID, either.  Obviously we in the business of a sharper eye for this stuff than the average viewer, but flunking journalism 101 like this on a high-profile morning is simply not good enough.  Tell me what I am looking at and why.  A wide shot of a driveway and then a building does not exactly scream "breaking news."  Remote control, please.

I flipped on Fox News Channel and two people were screaming over each other about something.  Yeah, that’s what you want at 7:30 in the morning.  Moved on in 10 seconds.

When I turned on MSNBC, they had political director Chuck Todd with some decent analysis.  Finally.  Problem was, he was being interviewed by Joe Scarborough, who was busy bashing President Bush.  Shocker.  No objective opinion here, time to leave.

So off to the web I went to see how the Biden selection was playing.  Thanks to lazy journalism, screaming and one-sided agendas, the cable news networks had teamed up to send me away.

If these guys want to be the place to go through November for the best political coverage, they better bring their “A” games, especially on a big day like the morning when America finds out who the next Vice President could be.

Because at that one moment in time on Saturday morning at 7:30 Pacific, they finally were all on the same page about something – not being good enough to keep me watching.