CNN has successfully branded itself as the source to go to for breaking news, such as the shooting at the Washington Navy Yard. However, as Jon Stewart points out, they are really bad at it. CNN’s coverage of the Washington Navy Yard shooting started sloppy: first we have a reporter simply describing what he sees (“Squad cars!” “A rescue chopper! Some kind of rescue basket or something”) and it devolves to an anchor trying to get someone on the phone (she tries four different people before someone answers) to answer a question (how big is the Washington Navy Yard) that someone in the office presumably could have looked up on their own, and which is not especially important.
Sloppy is one thing, and can be forgiven to a certain degree in a live event where little is known, as was the case in the early stages of the Washington Navy Yard shooting. But then we cut to Wolf Blitzer, who seems to openly encourage wild speculation:
“The fact that this individual is described as wearing a black top, black jeans, what does that say, if anything, about a possible motive or whatever? Can we begin to draw any initial conclusions?”
Really? What does the suspect’s nondescript outfit imply? Had he been wearing all yellow or all purple or some kind of symbol, then sure, Blitzer’s question would make some sense, but, well, hang on, it gets better:
“…And I want to alert our viewers that sometimes these initial conclusions can obviously be very very wrong.”
CNN isn’t much of a news network these days. They are kind of the Las Vegas of news: flashy lights, dramatic music, very little substance. Al Jazeera, the New York Times: these are news networks. CNN mostly exists to provide a break for Jon Stewart from bashing Fox News, which isn’t news at all.