When “News” Becomes News

First it was a report of a woman’s eye maimed by her own faulty thong. Then it was the story of an injured mountain climber using her bra to, ahem, rouse help. Today, we have two additional instances of stories dubbed “News You Can’t Use” by MSNBC early in the morning (on Morning Joe) then being repackaged and presented as “regular” news later in the day. (No underthings involved this time).

Today’s examples: a horse named Arrrr (think: What Pirates Say) who recently won a race and how funny it is to hear the racetrack announcer calling the win for a horse so named; and, footage of Judge Judy (and plaintiff and defendant) experiencing yesterday’s earthquake in L.A. “All journalism is suspended!” joked Joe Scarborough by way of introducing the “News You Can’t Use” segment this morning.

Apart from the irony factor, the MSNBC-wanting-to-have-it-both-ways factor, why would “news” Morning Joe’s viewers “Can’t Use” be deemed entirely “useful” for MSNBC’s later-in-the-day viewers?

Morning Joe viewers are (are thought to be?), to quote MSNBC head Phil Griffin from a recent New York magazine article, “from Boston to Washington, D.C.” — well-informed, politically-savvy types, in other words. And they are served Arrrr’s story as “news.” For the people who watch MSNBC at mid-day (who are they, housewives in Hot Springs? Seniors in Sarasota? People getting root canals? Some humorless media watchdog?), it’s news.

Just is all that “disturbing video.”

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.