Friday, June 29, 2012

Goodbye CNN!

U.S. Supreme Court building.
U.S. Supreme Court building. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I remember a time when CNN was my go-to source for information. I felt that like it is advertised, CNN was the most trusted name in news.

No more. Yesterday, on one of the biggest political news stories--the U.S. Supreme court ruling on the Affordable Care Act--CNN got it wrong, horribly wrong.

I recall another time when the stakes were even higher that CNN got it wrong. It was in 2008 when CNN and several other news outlets reported, "Al Gore wins Florida," another story where the public was misled. We had to rely on time and hindsight for the real facts behind this convoluted truth.

Yesterday, I was aware of the pending SCOTUS decision. I was waiting to hear the result, fearing that the law would be struck down. In my circles, this topic was a much talked-about one, both on social media and in emails with friends. I got a CNN Breaking News email at 9:09 a.m. that read: "The Supreme Court has struck down the individual mandate for health care - the legislation that requires all to have health insurance."

I was confused because just moments before, I had read the total opposite from the MSNBC website that said the decision on the Affordable Care Act was upheld, including the controversial individual mandate.

At 9:18 a.m. I received another CNN Breaking News item that noted: "Correction: The Supreme Court backs all parts of President Obama’s signature health care law, including the individual mandate that requires all to have health insurance."

I thought we were done with the "Dewey defeats Truman" era. That was 1948; see how far we've come?

Fox News Channel

I've heard that FOX News also screwed up its early coverage of the Affordable Care Act. I didn't watch the coverage there because to me, news reports on that network are either untrustworthy, opinionated, or just plain false. So to me, this was less likely an error than it was the network's prophecy of hope.

According to Twitter, several individuals have related that CNN issued a press release that said, "We are not the story. The Story is the Story." I did not receive such a release, so I can't vouch for it. They have also reported they plan to look into how the error occurred.

Still, there is no excuse for this kind of mistake on an issue of such vital importance to the people of this nation. It is inexcusable for an organization with as many resources as CNN, that is supposed to deal in the unvarnished truth, to make this kind of blunder.

What has happened to CNN; what has happened in general to television/cable news? The answer is simple--greed.

The almighty dollar has fouled the once highly-regarded public press. Today, most media is simply bought and paid for by corporations that use it to their advantage. Cable and network news reporting was once trustworthy. It was a resource for information and education. As the 24-news cycle has infiltrated the air waves, the media is becoming more of a product of entertainment, with an emphasis on the sensational, and glitz; whatever will draw in viewers. There are far more analysts and prognosticators than investigative journalists. If it doesn't change, it will find itself following in the footsteps of print media, which has compromised long-held principles in favor of advertising dollars.

CNN has been playing the ratings game for some time. When journalism takes the 'be-all-things-to-all-people' approach above reporting factual information, there is a problem.

Ratings translates into profit, which was once called the bottom line. In recent years though, profit has risen up to become the driving force behind once-trusted institutions. This is a phenomenon that has, in my view, contributed greatly to the dumbing down of society, for which we all pay a high price. 

The trust is gone. For me, this CNN blunder is the last straw. I will remain a news hound, but there are far more and better resources to inform and educate. All the news and information I desire is available online, which is where I will seek it. 

So long CNN!
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