And it probably isn’t the reason you think.
I’m currently temping at a Business Which Shall Not Be Named (Mostly Because It Isn’t Relevant) and they’re nice enough to have a couple of big-screen TVs scattered throughout the building, mainly because the work doesn’t actually engage the brain beyond the simple motor reflexes, and my particular duty stations me right next to one. This means I wind up watching CNN for the better part of eight hours each day while I work. (This may explain why the posts on my own blog have become somewhat more political lately. Sorry, but hearing Governor Walker explain why he raided the pension fund for Wisconsin’s teachers and gave it to his rich buddies, and why this means that he has to take away their right to negotiate contracts…it kinda gets to ya after a while.)
But that’s not what actually depresses me. (Actually, the Egypt stuff was pretty uplifting; it’s sort of how you imagine revolutions happening in the movies, with almost nobody getting hurt and the noble resistance triumphing simply through being Right and having Stick-To-It-Ive-Ness. At any moment, you expected Mubarak to suddenly remember, “Hey, I’ve got guns and tanks and shit!” And he never did.) Certainly, I’m not fond of CNN’s style of reporting, but it’s not so much that I feel like they’ve got a bias as it is that they seem so desperate to prove they don’t have a bias that they never challenge anyone on anything, ever. A CNN interview with Charles Manson would go something like this:
CNN Reporter: “Mr. Manson, your followers murdered seven people, including a woman who was almost nine months pregnant, and planned to murder others. Do you think that maybe this is something you should apologize for?”
CNN Reporter: “I see. Now, regarding your relationship with Brian Wilson…”
But none of that is what depresses me. No, what depresses me are the ads. I’m not sure whether CNN just has unbelievably low standards, or whether the various advertisers have targeted CNN’s demographics with razor-sharp precision and realized that 99% of the people watching CNN at 1 in the afternoon are either gullible elderly folks or people out on workman’s comp, but watching the ads on CNN all day is like a non-stop bath in human misery. Easily half the ads feel like borderline scams (overpriced insurance, dubious financial advice, lawyers explaining to you how you can sue/outwit the IRS/get a free scooter, the occasional right-wing screed) and the rest drop the “borderline” part. One in particular, which apparently warns of the “END OF AMERICA” that this financial genius predicted, feels like it’s the work of someone about two steps ahead of the law.
And what’s most depressing is that all this is showing on a news network. In theory, at least, these people are devoted to the ideals of honesty. They have cultivated a reputation for trustworthiness, and these ads cloak themselves in that reputation in order to seem like they, too, can be trusted. But they so patently and obviously can’t that you find yourself pitying the poor soul who really does believe that they need term life insurance, or that they can make money by investing in gold, or that the Health Care Reform Bill is unconstitutional and Mike Huckabee really needs their help in repealing it before it’s Too Late. Because you know there are people like that out there, people who believe these ads because they’re on CNN and CNN wouldn’t lie to them. And that, my friends, is why I get depressed watching CNN.
Well, that and trying to imagine how inadequate Wolf Blitzer must feel that he needs to name his news show, “THE SITUATION ROOM”.