The Corner

CNN’s Virtual Reality

I chime in on the CNN implosion in today’s NY Post. Here’s the lede:

By now you’ve probably heard that CNN made such a laughingstock of itself at the recent YouTube debate in Florida that it could only have been worse if host Anderson Cooper conducted it in fluent Klingon.

And here’s the end:

Now it takes the kind of chutzpah that usually invites a lightning bolt from above for CNN to not only accuse its critics of taking the “low road approach” but to dare speak as a tribune of the American people, when they failed to even find “ordinary Americans” when it was, literally, their job to do so.

Still, they do have a point, but they may not realize how damning their defense is. First they are saying that these questions are so obvious that it doesn’t really matter who is asking them. Fair enough, but doesn’t that apply not just to this debate, but to CNN generally? That means the millions of dollars CNN has invested in, say, Anderson Cooper as uniquely talented at asking tough, meaningful or unique questions has been money wasted on a lie. Any pretty face can ask the questions handed to them by their producer. So why not just have Cameron Diaz ask the questions? Who needs puffed up journalists to read cue cards?

But CNN’s also saying that their producers were still the ultimate arbiters of which questions got asked. With 5,000 submissions they could cherry-pick whatever questions they wanted. All that stuff about “you deciding,” “ordinary Americans,” and tearing down the gates was little more than show business. The “ordinary Americans” were simply props for the agenda of the same old people who always get to decide what counts as news and what doesn’t. You people who thought otherwise are just a bunch of saps.

And, sadly, CNN is right on both counts.

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