Cable news, everybody’s favorite purveyor of mindlessly mediocre journalism, has been roundly beaten about the head for yesterday’s balloon-a-palooza festivities. At her eponymous Web site, media impresario and versatile pundit Arianna Huffington laments that her scheduled appearance on The Ed Show to discuss Afghanistan was sidetracked into a balloon boy discussion.

But maybe the problem with cable is not that it became obsessed with a story that—however trivial it may be in the grand scheme of things, and however slipshod the reporting may have been—really did capture people’s attention. Maybe the problem is, instead, that when cable wants to have a discussion about Important Things like the war in Afghanistan, it turns to someone like Huffington in the first place.

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Greg Marx is an adjunct lecturer at The Medill School and a facilitator with The OpEd Project. She served as an editorial board member, columnist, library director, and No. 2 in the features department of the Chicago Sun-Times.