CNN sells sex


Jodi Arias and the real reason CNN is extensively covering her trial

Jodi Arias and the real reason CNN is extensively covering her trial


Every year, there are thousands of murder trials in the U.S. So it seems ridiculous that CNN has chosen to focus all its attention on one trial involving one woman who admits killing her boyfriend.

All afternoon, every weekday, CNN headline news is ignoring every other story out there and promising “You won’t miss a minute of the Jodi Arias trail.”

CNN has succeeded in making it into an afternoon soap, with coverage that has become obsessively absurd. For example, CNN covered extensively the fact that Jodi Arias did a headstand when left alone in the interrogation room. One of the horde of CNN correspondents actually did a headstand of her own to demonstrate this amazing news event.

CNN also covered what they called “Jodi’s weird hair flipping.” What was this? When Jodi Arias was being held in the interrogation room with her hands cuffed behind her, she flipped her long hair once out of her face. Another blockbuster story.

CNN is incredibly hypocritical. They just recently put Kyra Phillips on air with a show called “Raising America” and Phillips says that as a mother she wants to put the family spin on news. So what does CNN do? Follow her show with a murder trial featuring lots of prurient testimony about oral sex, anal sex, masturbation, sexual fixation on young boys, and bondage, aired at a time when young kids are watching.

The worst things about CNN’s wall-to-wall coverage is that it crowds out every other news story as they air hour after hour of the trial that won’t seem to end.

When I was a newspaper writer, I covered murder trials and the legal process is not something that should be aired in toto any more than you should show sausage making. I would compare the legal system to a snail, but that would be unfair to snails.

Court usually starts late, has long lunch breaks, lots of recesses, many sidebar conferences between the lawyers and judge, and often adjourns early. Some days they decide not to have court at all.

Even when court is in session, it’s mostly pretty mundane with lawyers trying to figure out how to ask the same question over and over, spending lots of time on issues that are inconsequential, and generally putting the jury to sleep. Sure, there is occasionally a riveting Perry Mason moment, but for every one of those moments there are hours and hours of boring testimony that doesn’t make for good television.

How does CNN compensate for  that? They have a  group of correspondents who are covering the Jodi Arias trial whose job it is to convince the TV audience that insignificant courtroom happenings are exciting. They overact, are way too excited and exaggerate shamefully.

CNN has gone to the trouble to build a set which is a replica of the apartment where the murder took place and their correspondents are doing reenactments of the crime.

Why is CNN doing this? Because yellow journalism is back. There was a time in U.S. history in the 1800s when newspapers ran sensationalized stories to attract readers and even stooped to creating news to boost sales.

That’s exactly what CNN is doing by broadcasting the salacious details  of this otherwise commonplace trial. Take the sex out of this trial and CNN wouldn’t even be mentioning  it at all, which is how they cover most murder trials. It’s clear that CNN is just going for ratings and money and doesn’t care about covering real news.

I have a suggestion for CNN. I think they need some correspondents who can really do this trial justice. They should get Joey Buttafuoco, Howard  Stern, Lorena Bobbitt and Monica Lewinski on their broadcast team. If you’re going to broadcast sleaze, why not get right down in the gutter?

That’s Not News


Confession, I watch way too much television news, everything from CNN, to network news, to my local yokel news. I indulge in TV news because it’s there, it’s easy, and I can keep the sound turned down and it becomes more like wallpaper.

When I was a print journalist, TV reporters were almost universally hated by my colleagues in the newspaper press. Why? Because so often it’s newspaper reporters who break the news, but TV reporters who get the credit for it. How does this happen? It happens when a newspaper reporter does some good digging and comes up with a story that gets printed in the morning paper. That same morning, over at the TV station, a news producer picks up the paper, sees the story and assigns a TV reporter to go out and cover it. That evening on the news, a mass audience, many of whom didn’t read the paper, see the TV story and assume the resourceful TV reporter is breaking this news.

But lately TV news has gotten even worse, Not only does TV not initiate many news stories, it has devolved to banter between TV reporters. Channels like CNN spend an inordinate amount of time having reporters interview each other. The problem with this is that news reporters are in no way news sources. They’re knowledgeable, opinionated, and even sometimes insightful, but, at their best, they are just analysts, going back over information already available.

Please note that print journalists never do this. Can you imagine a newspaper writer quoting another newspaper person in a story? Doesn’t happen, ever. Newspaper writers quote news sources, fill their stories with as many facts as they can gather and leave the endless bullshit for people in line at Wal-Mart. They don’t air it in their news vehicle.

But on CNN, tune in any morning to see Soledad O’Brien convene her panel of jokers and pundits to tell you what to think about the news. That’s the strength of today’s TV news, all the way from the local to the biggest channels like CNN. They  might not find much news with their vast operation, but they spare the viewer the effort of thinking about it. Their on-air personalities do that for you.

In fact, CNN has now hired a whole corps of people whose job is to come on and jabber about the news. Of course, it’s a lot easier to get one of your employees on the air than it is to go out and find a real news source like a public official or someone actually involved in a news event. It’s fluff television, but it’s not really news. It’s some kind of perversion of news labeled as news, but really, it’s just talk from professional talkers.

As a viewer of news, you know you’re in for it when they put up one of those six-shots, or whatever they call it, when you see a bunch of faces on your screen with a coddling moderator like say Carol Costello on CNN and she goes around to all the people in the little rectangles and pretends like they’re saying really profound things.

Meanwhile, the news goes on, stories go unreported, the dirt gets swept under the rug, the corruption goes undetected, because the watchdog isn’t watching. It’s sniffing the rear end of another watchdog.

The worst part is that major news stories are being ignored so CNN and the media in general can devote massive time blocks to broken down cruise ships, celebrity news and the Jodi Arias murder trail.

Example: Did you know that an estimated 10,000 people have died of starvation because of a famine in North Korea? Did you know that some people there are so desperate for food they are digging up dead bodies and eating them or killing their own children and eating or selling the meat?

This shocking story has gone pretty much unreported on CNN. Only the print press seems to think it’s worthy of exposure.

I don’t think TV news is going to get any better. It’s becoming a bastard mix of entertainment and news. It will survive and people will consume it the same way they consume light beer. hot pockets, or audio books. It will give you the feeling you’re following  the news, even if you’re not. CNN anchors and reporters aren’t journalists, but they play them on TV.

But for those of us who want real news, the net will increasingly become our source for information. You can easily access the best stories from the best newspapers and magazines with a couple of clicks. And you get mostly straight information, researched by real journalists, citing real sources, attributed and solid. And you can decide for  yourself what to think about the events, instead of letting CNN do it for you.