This article is my response to Scott Butki’s article here chiding the media for congratulating itself on its Katrina coverage. I don’t begrudge them their pride over recent accomplishments, but like Scott, I hope they keep their feisty attitude.
The media did very well with Katrina, especially Anderson Cooper. Just recently CNN ran a stunning story on police looting in New Orleans. It’s not so much that they need to stop thinking about Katrina, which was monumental, as they need to keep questioning authority.
I agree that their non-Katrina self-congratulations are unwarranted. When an aging WASP male network anchor retires or dies, you’d think that Christ had ascended. When I last watched network news, many years ago, it always looked like these guys were flown in somewhere where other reporters must have done the legwork while they stood there with their hair-sprayed hair and portentous voices telling us what they were fed and not much more. I don’t think they need to be highly lionized. I don’t see the real questioning of authority that needs to happen, just a delicate surface dance that never goes very far. It was them regurgitating stuff about “smart bombs” and “collateral damage” that made me destroy my TV set in ’91. They and their sycophantic colleagues tell us what a trusted part of our lives they are. They never give us an accounting of scoops, investigative stories, and substantive accomplishments to back this up. Viewers would be hard-pressed to come up with this either.
I like CNN, but recently they were trumpeting themselves because it’s their twenty-fifth year on the air. I don’t begrudge them some tasteful announcements, but this was a campaign. We’re already watching CNN, what more do you want? No, I do not want to see collages of upsetting world events from the past 25 years every time I turn on the TV. Today’s upsetting events are enough.
News shows need to do real investigative journalism all the time, and stop dancing around in deference to corporate and government interests. A little less deference and a little more journalism.