Okay, cue the existential crisis. Because I am finding myself, somehow, actually…pleased with cable news’s performance this morning.
I know. I know! But consider:
MSNBC, for one, aired Obama’s “global town hall”—a Q&A in Strasbourg, France—uninterrupted this morning. (As I’ve said before, that kind of unmediated airing of political events is something cable news could and should do more of.) And it followed up the airing of the town hall with a discussion of the event’s content and import—courtesy of Contessa Brewer and Chuck Todd—that was both blessedly brief and fairly fluff-free.
Then, CNN’s Heidi Collins took advantage of today’s being NATO’s sixtieth anniversary, and of tomorrow’s NATO summit, to offer a short piece of explanatory journalism—“What is NATO?”—that actually served as, you know, helpful context for the weekend’s events.
And THEN, Fox News’s Jenna Lee offered a detailed, digestible, and context-focused explanation of the connection of today’s jobless rate numbers—“JOBLESS RATE HITS 8.5% AFTER 663,000 JOBS LOST IN MARCH,” the chyron read—to the overall economy. “This kind of comes full-circle,” Lee said.
And THEN—oh, Bizarro-World!—MSNBC’s Kelly O’Donnell proceeded to provide a substantive, relatively jargon-free, and helpful explanation of President Obama’s budget proposal. As she described what’s been retained in the budget and what’s been excised, a split-screen list broke it out for viewers:
OBAMA’S BUDGET: WHAT’S OUT
TAX CREDIT FOR WORKING FAMILIES
FULL FIX FOR ALTERNATIVE MINIMUM TAX
$250 BILLION FUTURE BAILOUT REQUEST
OBAMA’S BUDGET: WHAT’S IN
MIDDLE CLASS TAX CUTS EXTENDED
$250K+ TAX CUTS ALLOWED TO EXPIRE
What is going on?? Could it be that cable news, having frustrated us for so long with its superficiality, its insipidity, its vapidity, might actually be transforming itself into a useful resource that will help news consumers to—
On MSNBC right now, Contessa Brewer just announced the much-anticipated meeting between Michelle Obama and Carla Bruni. “The First Lady Fashion Smackdown!” she cried, a note of glee edging into her voice.
And…we’re back.Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.