NOTE: This video has some not-work-safe language. I also think it’s one of the most important videos you will watch this campaign season. (After yesterday’s speeches by Michelle and Barack Obama, of course.)
CNN has hired Trump surrogates to turn their election coverage into meaningless shouting matches. This may make for dramatic reality TV, but it makes for terrible “news analysis.”
As Driftglass has said, cable news is “all about gettin’ them ratings, and f*ck the substance. And what’s better for ratings than putting red ants and black ants in a jar and watchin’ ’em fight!”
Media Matters has noticed, too:
CNN’s decision to hire professional Trump apologists has made for some fascinating — if not excruciating — television. Their appearances frequently result in screaming matches, with hosts and other panelists trying desperately (and fruitlessly) to deal with the surrogates’ barrage of talking points, misdirection, and blind stubbornness. The Trump surrogates do a masterful job of avoiding being pinned down — they change the subject, argue in circles, make things up, and generally do whatever they can to sidetrack any negative discussion about Trump.
But for a news network, these segments are a disaster. These constant screaming matches offer nothing of substance to audiences who want to make sense of the election. Instead, they desensitize voters to bullshit — elevating ridiculous and even blatantly dishonest defenses of Trump’s campaign into mainstream political debates. The presence of CNN’s Trump surrogates makes any segment they appear in more likely to devolve into the kind of absurdist bickering that makes many viewers tune out or give up on being politically engaged altogether.
If CNN wants to feature pro-Trump voices in its election coverage, it can rely on guests who actually work for the campaign. But rewarding professional bullshit artists like Hughes, McEnany, Lord, and Lewandowski with CNN salaries and job titles sets a dangerous precedent for a news network: a move toward “balance” even when it comes at the cost of reasonable, useful coverage.