The Folly of 24 Hour News Channels
Nov 20, 2012 | 1774 views | 0 0 comments | 562 562 recommendations | email to a friend | print

There was a time when I watched the 24 hour news channels religiously. I was a junkie, watching pretty much everything CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, and Fox News showed. Because they repeat themselves so much, it is not necessary to watch each one 24/7. By watching key shows throughout the day, one gets the messages each one of them is weaving into their story lines.

Simply put, the 24 hour news channels are reality television, with the same desire to keep the show interesting that other reality shows have. They have heroes and villains. They have large players and bit players. They stage things and call them impromptu. They script scenes, no different than shows such as Survivor, The Apprentice, or The Real World.

The job of the 24 hour news channel is to keep you watching, whatever that takes. In the world of cable news, the sky is always falling. As soon as the sky does not fall from the malady of the day, there will immediately be a new reason the sky is about to fall.

Look at the recent elections. It was a spirited election at all levels. Through all the campaigning, people made their minds up and voted. Like the great country we are, we had yet another peaceful election where the public - however disappointed - accepted the verdict of the voters. Mr. Romney showed a great deal of class in his concession speech. However one feels about the outcome, we can take pride in the good things that come of our elections, including the classy way some candidates conduct themselves, even in defeat.

As soon as the election was over, the cable news channels erupted like a tree full of magpies, in a cacophony of phony horror. The term "driving off the fiscal cliff" was the catch phrase of the post election talk among those charged with keeping the viewers watching after the election. Once again, a dire, dire circumstance faces us. What will we do if congress doesn't reach agreement with the president on the Bush tax cuts? After all, during the campaigning both sides took hard lines designed to please their respective constituencies. That was during the campaigning. Congress critters can be pretty rational when contemplating their future as an elected official.   They don't usually start their next reelection effort by shooting themselves in the foot.

I am confident congress will reach some kind of agreement that doesn't make anyone happy but gets both sides some things they want.  Politics requires compromise. It's not a dirty word. Good couples who are happily married for years do it all the time. So do business partners. There will be a compromise, because most of the 435 members of the federal House of Representatives do not want to be the reason middle class tax cuts did not get renewed. And most of them don't want to face a defense industry which just lost $50 billion of spending to sequestration.

Count me as one who is confident sequestration will be avoided and a legislative package will be passed. But not before everyone who has something to gain has told their story on the 24 hour news channels. Not before the 24 hour news channels have created another "sky is falling" meme for herding viewers. Not before the stock market has been beaten down ten or twenty percent. Then something will get done, the crisis will be averted, and two months of hand wringing will end with the next ticking time bomb announced by overly excited cable news personalities.

My advice is simple. Stop watching so much "news" on the 24 hours news channels, and when you do, keep in mind their goal of keeping you watching with salacious or scary news stories. They need to keep you coming back, and the more scared they can make you, the more they can command your television time. It's television created to sell products and propaganda.

© 2012, Jim “Pappy” Moore,

All Rights Reserved.

Jim “Pappy” Moore is a native son of East Texas who still makes the piney woods his home.
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