November 07, 2006

The Sordid Desperation of CNN

Obsessive viewers of the idiot box undoubtedly recognize that some 24-hour cable news networks have faired better than others in recent years. Well, if by “some” you mean Fox News. And by “others” you mean all the others.

Yes, a mere gander at cable ratings attests that Roger Ailes and Co. have outshone the cable news competition. In comparison with “The O’Reilly Factor,” the programs on, say, MSNBC might as well be broadcast on C-SPAN. Hey, at least C-SPAN is intermittently entertaining.

That’s more than you can say for the flagrantly un-viewable Jim Cramer. That screeching, hunched-over bag of garbage.

But surely the rise of Fox News has troubled no one so much as the folks at CNN, the erstwhile leader in cable news hackery. If this sorry excuse for a television network were half as entertaining as whilom owner Ted Turner, perhaps a few Americans would watch it. (Of course this might mean that CNN, like Ted Turner, would be an anti-Semitic lunatic, but them’s the breaks.)

We mention this, dear reader, because one of the senior editors here at “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly”—let’s just call him “Chip”—took in a rather surprising moment of television on CNN the other day, and it quite troubled him. No, Wolf Blitzer’s pants didn’t fall down to the accompaniment of a slide whistle, or anything like that. But it was shocking nonetheless.

In one particular on-air segment on CNN, Wolf Blitzer, chock-a-block with pseudo-gravitas as usual, turned things over to someone named Jack Cafferty. Until then, dear reader, we thought that Jack Cafferty was the leader of the Beaver Brown Band. (You remember them: The unthinking man’s John Cougar.) Yet it turns out that he’s an unpleasant color-commentator-like anchorman at CNN.

The dour Mr. Cafferty announced CNN’s poll question of the day (or some such): Name the most annoying talking head on television. To be honest, dear reader, at this moment “Chip’s” immediate answer was Jack Cafferty. But, of course, he hadn’t seen Susan Estrich recently.

Anyway, in lieu of entertainment, Mr. Cafferty offered his own choice: Rush Limbaugh, whom he deemed—and we quote—a “fat drug-addict.” Yes, you read that right: On daytime television, on a cable news program, a CNN anchor referred to Mr. Limbaugh as a “fat drug-addict.”

It was a bit jarring, and you could tell that Mr. Blitzer was uncomfortable with the locution, though he tried to play it off. Quite frankly, it was all rather contemptible.

Now, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” certainly recognize that Rush Limbaugh doesn’t need our defense. He’s got legions of fans, oodles of cash, and lots of pain medication. Further, we’re sure that Mr. Limbaugh has tossed around his fair share of nasty epithets in the past. What goes around comes around, we suppose.

But, gee: Isn’t anything beneath the dignity of CNN? Sure, tasteless name-calling may be appropriate for, say, a failed humor “weblog” with few readers, but is it really kosher for the likes of CNN? Is the whole staff of this network drinking from Ted Turner’s toilet?

A perusal of the latest number of The New Republic helped us conclude what Mr. Cafferty and his fellow dolts at CNN were up to. As Peter Beinart makes clear in his column “Going Native,” Lou Dobbs—the Pigs-in-Space-looking anchorman—is the only CNN personality who’s doing well in the ratings department.

Since Mr. Dobbs has garnered comparatively large audiences with his controversial immigration demagoguery, the geniuses at CNN have tried to infuse this into their other failed programs. Hence Mr. Cafferty’s outburst.

Boy, nothing seems lamer than a nasty attack offered entirely for the benefit of ratings. Just ask Ann Coulter.

Posted at November 7, 2006 12:01 AM | TrackBack