The Real Loser in the Presidential Election—the CNN Viewer.
(ThyBlackMan.com) Since I left the US in 2007 so much has changed. I’ll state the obvious—African-American president, bank, auto industry, and mortgage failures, recession, rapidly changing racial and ethnic demographics. The post-election commentators will provide nuanced analysis of those issues—maybe. I’m left with one minor but troubling question of far less importance than the above. What happened to my once beloved CNN? Or as of late, should I call it Fox Lite?
I know that I’m late on this. The network has been in free fall for a while now. Living in South Africa I’ve been drawn more towards BBC World, Al Jazeera, and eNCA (the South African 24-hour news channel) and the internet to get my fill of news. CNN International is a bit more balanced with programs focused on Africa and more nuanced analysis than what might be found back home. I check that out on occasion. That fairly balanced CNN broadcasting stops cold however for American election coverage.
The presidential debates are where it really struck me how far to the right CNN has drifted. Forget the first debate. The second and third where President Obama was the clear and undisputed victor was when the bias became most evident. The network would declare the president the winner. The decision was determined by “scientific” polling of undecided voters. Inexplicably, sometimes in the same sentence, the CNN host, reporter, or pundit would then say that the win didn’t actually matter or that it was in fact not a victory but a tie. Huh? What? Had I been away from the U.S. so long that I could no longer grasp American English? Could win actually mean tie or a meaningless victory that would not help but somehow hurt the sitting president?
I’m not foolish enough to believe that debates decide elections. Al Gore won all of his contests against George W. Bush as did John Kerry four years later. It didn’t matter. But now I was being told by CNN that the 2012 debates were game changers.
Did the network think that voters wouldn’t notice that the former Governor of liberal Massachusetts had been transformed into the “severe” conservative that he had claimed to be during the Republican primaries? That he was more Barry Goldwater or Lee Atwater than the Rockefeller Republican that set the blueprint for healthcare reform that was later adapted by Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. Was CNN awake during this election cycle? But there were so many Mr. Romney’s that perhaps they couldn’t keep track. Some of those characters were to the right of George Wallace. Sometimes he seemed to be channeling Ralph Nader or even Barack Obama himself.
I’m just a lowly blogger without a degree in journalism. Surely the pros know how to ask questions and follow up after the candidate responds. I didn’t see much of that from the Most Trusted Name in News.
Let’s fast forward to election night. Not all was wrong with the pundits and hosts navigating us through the final hours of the campaign. I was spared from spending the night with Richard Quest who thankfully retreated before the first election results were read. Van Jones, Ana Navarro, James Carville, Roland Martin and John King, the last being transformed into a cold-blooded quant geek numbers man, held my attention. Not an easy thing to do with a seven hour time difference separating Johannesburg, South Africa from Washington, DC.
As much as I like Van Jones they should have brought in Roland Martin earlier. Apparently the network only allows one black pundit per session. If this was WWE, Jones would have went for the tag after the first chest slap off the ropes from David Gergen. Jones doesn’t swim as fast as the TV sharks assembled around him. He seemed to be repeating the same thing the whole night in the rare occasions when he was recognized at all. I painfully reminisced about being the only black kid in AP English class in high school. That was Jones on election night. It seemed that folks were tolerating or petting him the entire evening.
The following is a sketch of how it went for Mr. Jones. Pause. Let him say something about black folks and coalitions. Okay we’ve acknowledged this man, now our turn for the next hour. Let’s talk about how even if President Obama wins he’ll have no mandate. Press repeat. This went on for like 6-7 hours!
Roland Martin’s fast talk, swagger, and ability to spit clear, concise, and concrete talking points were a welcome relief hours later. Former John McCain aid and Republican strategist Ana Navarro made me wonder why, besides the appeal of cold hard cash, she was a member of the Grand Ole Party. She essentially espoused the belief that they were frozen in time and racist. James Carville didn’t disappoint either, wearing the consistent scowl and exhibiting the persona he shares with Yosemite Sam–ornery is an understatement. But that grouchiness was necessary to deflect and balance the hate and sour grapes banter of David Gergen and Gloria Borger.
My chin was in my chest by the time Ohio was called for President Obama. I had been up all night by then and the sun was shining in Johannesburg. I felt like I had been beaten by fatigue and exasperation by another night with CNN. I’ll admit, I should have went with Al Jazeera or BBC World but the appeal of pretty lights and what appeared to be a giant wall sized iPad used by Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, and John King was too much to resist. Oh yeah, they also had some Empire State building glittery gimmick. I’m an American. I like shiny things. I fell asleep before the pretty blue lights could be fully revealed on that icon of American urban architecture.
Waking up a few hours later the pundits were talking about President Obama’s lack of mandate and the debt cliff that will apparently be more devastating than the Great Depression. Although Barack Obama had won the election it seemed that CNN believed that he had somehow still lost. These are the woes of a black president. You sure you really want that second term sir? If this is moderate journalism it’s going to be a long four years for Barack Hussein Obama.
Staff Writer; Christopher Keith Johnson