News Judgment in Zuckertown: Empty Calories

bsCNN’s Brian Stelter always welcomes an anti-Fox spin, and in writing about last night’s Trump coverage he quoted a writer who worked for Breitbart (previously not a respected outlet in Zuckertown):

Emailing with former Breitbart News spokesman Kurt Bardella early this morning, I asked for his thoughts about the coverage: 

Bardella gave him just what he was looking for:

Fox’s treatment of the story tonight was media malpractice. We’re talking about the top story in the country involving the highest office in the land and they became The Weather Channel

The Cable Gamer has a feeling Brian didn’t have to ask Bardella for his thoughts. He knew what he would be getting beforehand, because the guy had earlier RT’d Stelter’s own tweet (which itself RT’d this anti-Fox tweet):

Now CNN has been aping The Weather Channel for much of the week and that was just fine, but they promptly abandoned what may be the most devastating hurricane of the decade when word of an upcoming Trump apology broke. Instead of covering the ongoing devastation inflicted by the hurricane, CNN, like many other outlets, spent segment after segment analyzing a Trump apology that didn’t exist:

Note the “awaiting.” CNN and others, who just hours earlier were covering the storm wall-to-wall, now tossed it in the trash so they could sit, argue, and speculate for hours at a time about an apology video nobody had seen. Because they’re “awaiting.” And “awaiting” is labeled “breaking news.”

From what The Cable Gamer remembers of her journalism classes, the fact that Don Lemon and a screaming panel are “awaiting” something—anything—is not news. Neither is it “breaking.” It’s empty calories: the cable equivalent of click-bait, something to keep the rubes tuned in. Never mind stranded people, flooded cities—that all becomes instantly irrelevant when one can sit and spent hours on political speculation about an apology that no one has seen or heard.

Back to Edward R. Stelter:

It is true that Fox focused intensely on Hurricane Matthew after Sean Hannity‘s 10pm show. Meantime, CNN and MSNBC stayed on the Trump story throughout the night. Brian Williams even popped up on MSNBC at 1 in the morning. Just wait til you see the ratings…

Yes, wait till you see the ratings. The whole point of click-bait programming, right Mr. Media Critic? Of course Fox focused on the hurricane, just as CNN had been doing, because it was news. Stelter somehow forgot to note that Fox did break from hurricane coverage to cover the apology and followed up with multiple discussions and analyses of its ramifications. But again, that was after it was released and the participants knew what they were talking about.

Bottom line: CNN’s media expert cheap-shotted Fox News as he spun the company line in defense of their empty-calories programming. That’s considered journalism in Zuckertown.


  1. Pingback: Weekend Links and Open Thread | johnny dollar's place

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s