CNN, Making Us Trivial and Ignorant

You got shortchanged, Edward G.!

You got shortchanged, Edward G.!

I suppose I should give “New Day,” CNN’s revamped morning news show hosted by Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan a honeymoon before I start complaining about it, considering how I negligently blamed them for the conduct of their colleagues before their show as even on the air. Nonetheless, if CNN has decided to trade Soledad O’Brien’s biased coverage of real news for this pair’s avoiding it, I’d (I cannot believe I am writing this ) rather have Soledad back.

You may have noticed that there is a lot going on in this country and around the world. The conflict in Syria is at a critical point, and the U.S. may be preparing to play a greater role. Iran has a new president, Iraq is descending into violence, and the Middle East could still blow up at any moment.There are so many scandals to investigate emanating from D.C (and, uh, Cincinnati…) that the news media isn’t even bothering to keep us abreast on half of them. The stock market took a dive yesterday; illegal immigration is being fought over on Capitol Hill, where there was a big Tea Party rally against the I.R.S. yesterday.

Trust in the government is at low tide, which is more important than the usual polling nonsense, and President Obama’s poll numbers are beginning to look like Bush’s, but according to CNN’s Gloria Borger (WHY do I keep watching CNN?), it’s for a surprising reason. I watched with my jaw falling open as I heard Borger tell her CNN panel a couple of days ago that apparently citizens who had been thus far willing to “give the President the benefit of the doubt” were now—imagine this now!—beginning to associate him with the government they don’t like. That’s right—five years into his Presidency, and Obama is finally beginning to be held accountable for the government he heads and is supposed to be leading. Normally—sanely, reasonably—this calling to account would typically happen during an election, but hey, better late than never. (I believe I could hear Mitt Romney banging his head against the wall now, if the sound of my own head wasn’t so loud.)

Borger elaborated on her theory in her CNN column:

“Now, I know this president doesn’t like some parts of his job. He doesn’t much like schmoozing members of Congress, despite his recent share-a-meal plan with assorted Capitol Hill types. He doesn’t like the LBJ-style strong-arming, either. He doesn’t much like the messy lawmaking process in which personal relationships can often mean the difference between getting what you want and getting nothing at all. And he doesn’t ever like to be pushed. Ever. No-drama Obama, remember? But he does like speeches. He likes writing them, redrafting them, pondering them. He likes giving them, too — because he’s good at it.”

Gloria left out plenty of other things the President doesn’t like doing—managing, oversight, appointing non-cronies, firing incompetents, being straight with the public, making decisions, his job-–but she cut though it all to identify what he needs to do to address all the chaos around him: give a speech. And Borger is a big President Obama booster. She wasn’t trying to be cynical or funny.


All of this is prelude to my objection to what the new kids on the CNN block decided was the top news of the day, worthy of more than ten minutes of exclusive coverage, remote oversees updates, two special live reports, a studio interview, and even a phone interview with Larry King himself. And what was this riveting news story that Americans just had to know about while they were having their coffee and chewing their Pop Tarts into pistols?

James Gandolfini died.

James Gandolfini. Not a head of state, not a member of Congress, not great philanthropist or scientist, writer, philosopher, diplomat, entrepreneur, cancer researcher, scholar, jurist, surgeon, civil rights champion, or inventor. The guy who played Tony Soprano, a mobster. Reading the lines someone else wrote for him. On HBO, a premium channel watched by less than half the country. Six years ago.

Make no mistake, now, I yield to no one in my respect for James Gandolfini as a professional character actor, and he was apparently also a nice man. Dying at 51 is a tragedy, and he had young children. But in the end, he is just an actor, and not an especially notable one considering his profession as a whole. “My God,” my wife said, “if they make this big a deal when he dies, what will CNN do when it’s Al Pacino, devote all day to him?” Remind me to take a long trip to Canada during the inevitable “Jack Nicholson Month” at CNN, or when CNN does live coverage of Betty White ‘s funeral.

The public doesn’t understand the world around them, doesn’t know how the government it is supposed to elect operates, doesn’t comprehend what the President of the United States does or is supposed to do, can’t place Syria (or North Dakota) on a map, has no comprehension of what budget policy means to them, and network executives always excuse their news coverage sloth by saying that there just isn’t enough time to do thorough coverage of important and complex issues….yet CNN, the supposed leader in cable news, believes that the death (of natural causes, not even something lurid like a hit) of a character actor who was, at best, the 21st Century equivalent of Edward G. Robinson, is what the American public needs to know about, more than anything else on June 20, 2013.

Irresponsible. Disrespectful. Incompetent.



[ Post script (no pun intended): not all media news outlets are certifiably insane. The Washington Post noted the actor’s death with a small box at the bottom of the front page, directing readers to his obituary, with the rest of the death notices. I am reasonably certain the paper handled the death of Edward G. Robinson similarly. The Vitenam war ended on the day he died—January 27, 1973—but given CNN’s priorities, who know?]


Source: CNN

Graphic: Nexusroute

19 thoughts on “CNN, Making Us Trivial and Ignorant

  1. “James Gandolfini. Not a head of state, not a member of Congress, not great philanthropist or scientist, writer, philosopher, diplomat, entrepreneur, cancer researcher, scholar, jurist, surgeon, civil rights champion, or inventor. The guy who played Tony Soprano, a mobster. Reading the lines someone else wrote for him. On HBO, a premium channel watched by less than half the country. Six years ago.”

    You know who you sound like? James Gandolfini.

  2. I know, you probably have to watch it because of your work and suchlike, but we’ve really cut back on our TV viewing over the past few years, simply because of stupidity just like this.
    In fact, it may have been when CNN was canonizing the dead child molester – drug abuser from Neverland that we decided we’d had enough.

    We still watch movies, cooking shows, travel, health, good programming.

  3. agree that the reporting on James Gandolfini was over the top. And from what I’ve read about him he would think so also. But the News media needs something to sell and his death happened to be it. Its sad and disgusting.

    But Pacino?? Really? He hasnt been a good actor in years, and even when people raved about him there were times I wanted to throw a shoe at the screen and yell “Stop with the damn tricks already”. Way over rated actor. Not half the actor of Edward G Robinson. Personally I dont think he was as good as James Gandolfini . You never caught Gandolfini acting. Pacino it was hard not to catch him acting.

    To the younger demographic James Gandolfini is more recognizable then Pacino. Pacino hasn’t made a good movie since Donnie Brasco in 1997 , two years before the Sopranos came on the air, and given a good performance since angles in America.

    Hell they saw more of him as James Gandolfini also has more air time then Pacino did with almost 860 hours of performance in the Sopranos alone.

    • “Only don’t tell me you’re a professional acting critic. Because it insults my intelligence. It makes me very angry. Don’t do it. For the children. Our children.”

    • Pacino has two Academy awards, both of which he deserved. He’s far more versatile than Gandolfini, less mannered than Hoffman (I’d describe him the way you describe Pacino, and has never been a sellout like De Niro, with whom he is often associated. Michael Corleone is a moral/ ethical/ cultural touch point. Pacino uttered numerous lines that are eternal classics, including “Whoo-ah!”, “Attica!”, “They pull me back!” and about ten lines from the other two Godfather films. Godfather one and two, Donnie Brasco, Dog Day Afternoon, Scent of a Woman, Serpico, Scarface (my favorite performance), Serpico, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Insider, And Justice For All, Frankie and Johnny…plus his Roy Cohn in the TV version of “Angels in America”—I think only Nicholson has turned in as many terrific performances in his career.

      Come on.

      • I agree about Hoffman and De Niro. No argument there.

        He only has one Academy Award not two. He has two Tonys.

        I will concede that he is more versatile but I don’t think he is better. I catch him acting all the time.

        Scent of a Woman is crap, and the “whoo-ah ” makes every soldier, and Marine I know cringe every time we hear it. Its as bad a portrayal of an professional soldier as Nicholson as a Marine in A Few Good Men, which is even worse.

        Out of the rest the only one I would take exception to is “Scarface”. I can not stand that performance , Its a caricature , a total cartoon of a performance and an insult to anyone of Cuban descent . But it could be a matter of taste. I find violence like that in that film to be cartoonish. All I do is laugh all the way through movies like that. Id much rather see violence the way Hitchcock portrayed it.

        But out of the rest the last great performance was Roy Cohn, thats ten years ago. To the younger generation that is ancient history. And to them James Gandolfini is the character that comes to mind when they think gangster. Not Brando, De Niro, Pacino, Muni, , Robinson, Cagney or Bogart. They’ve all been replace in the publics eyes as James is the latest AND he had more exposure.

        • Yes, I meant to fix the Oscar error. I always think he got an Oscar for G II—he should have.
          Most great actors descend into self-parody or laziness after 60….one reason I’m such a big fan of the Duke is that he just got better and better. Olivier ended up a hack; so did Brando. Welles. Guinness did nothing but crap at the end, Burton of course.De Niro is there now, and Nicholson is close. But Pacino keeps taking risks—I thought Dick Tracy’s “Big Boy” was really bold and funny, in an awful movie. I’ll bet Al comes up with another great performance or two before he’s doing reverse mortgage ads.

          He’s really a stage actor, and like most stage actors, his technique shows on screen sometimes. I know what you mean. I blame the director when that gets on screen, though. When you die at 51 as an artist, you’re spared the weight of your decline phase.

          • I was thinking this weekend and dawned on me that James’ Tony character , and his performance , could not have existed without Pacino’s Corleone. The second is the continuation of the first. If you watch them they both have this amazing ability to make you love them and loath them at the same time. Just brilliant work by both.

            I’d forgotten about Big Boy and I agree that was a masterful performance, and in my mind the better of the two between it and Nicholson’s Joker.

            If you ever get a chance watch James as a gay hitman in the The Mexican with Julia Roberts. A bad movie but he is amazing and steals every scene he is in.

            • Agree in every way. Gandolfini was fantastic in “The Mexican,” and Pacino in Dick Tracy gave a witty and nuanced performance, whereas I think Nicholson was just farting around in “Batman.”

  4. That Larry King interview was horrible. Poor Larry was being asked to comment on the Gandolfini’s personal character and all manner of issues that he had no knowledge of because he barely knew the man! When pressed, King offered up all the clichés he could muster.

    I can’t help but wondering how far CNN intends to go with their pivot.

  5. I heard the Larry King comments and was disgusted; as IF I care what a shriveled old gas bag has to say about anything but also because I JUST knew he was going to make some kind of comment on JG’s weight.
    The poor guy isn’t even cold 8 hours and some fool has to mention that he was overweight. Pathetic.
    Let the hyenas commence their feeding.

    On another note, I liked JG’s acting and he seemed like a nice man.
    I am sorry he went so young. Sorry for his family, too.

    I like AP, as well.
    I heard he is very good in the Phil Spector movie but I haven’t seen it, I couldn’t get past the sight of AP in that wig.
    “And Justice for All” is one of my favorite movies.

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