CNN Has Become the "Celebrity News Network"

This post, written by Lisa Goldstein, originally appeared on The Huffington Post

Just as filmmaker Michael Moore and Dr. Sanjay Gupta were getting to the heart of a lively debate about universal health care last night, Larry King had to cut them off to go to his next segment featuring: some guy who hired a thug to blind a woman who later married him.

That moment crystallized what is wrong with cable news, modern media in general, and with the American people. Just as my interest was engaged and my outrage rising over the uninsured and the profit-making health system, I was suddenly confronted by a lighthearted romp into the lives of famous bumblers whose misadventures make us feel better about ourselves.

How did CNN become the "Celebrity News Network," better known for the relentless photo montages of Anna Nicole Smith and Paris Hilton that illustrated round-the-clock coverage of their misfortunes than for asking the tough questions that might have prevented our involvement in Iraq or the countless other debacles of this administration?

Even celebrities are fed up with it. Actor Tony Danza said in a recent interview with washingtonpost.com that the line between news and entertainment has been erased. "They don't give you what you need, they give you what you want," he said.

News shows are giving us the "news" they think we WANT, rather than the news we NEED to be better informed citizens. The drive for ratings has completely twisted the journalistic values of organizations that once took pride in them.

Imagine if you ate only what you wanted and not what you needed to be healthy. For me that would mean a steady diet of dark chocolate M&Ms and Doritos. That is not a good recipe for longevity or a high quality of life. My body would suffer and my judgment would be impaired. Viewers of American television news are getting too much dessert and not enough meat and potatoes.

So yes, producers, you are right that I want celebrity news. I might be considered a celebrity news junkie, in fact. I read TMZ multiple times a day. But I also want real news and can hardly get it anymore without a candy coating. So leave that to the candy makers, like Us magazine and get back to journalism.

Over these last long six years, I have wondered where is the outrage in this country, where are the people marching in the streets? Where are people calling for impeachment?

I now think part of the problem is that we can never build a head of steam on our anger because news organizations -- the facilitators of our national dialogue -- constantly mask our problems with gossip news that crowds out the information we need. They pacify America and keep us tuned in to their stations like happy, tranquil zombies.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close
alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.