There’s almost no sense in commenting on CNN’s near-nonstop, round-the-clock coverage of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight. Yes, it’s reached absurd lengths, as it would have to in order to allow the network to continue talking about a news item for which there’s almost no news; they’ve introduced holograms,played with toys, furiously demanded answers that aren’t there, and even wondered aloud whether there might be a supernatural reason for the plane’s disappearance, because when there’s nothing new to report you just have to make stuff up.
They’ve been openly mocked by comedians,other news organizations, and basically anyone unlucky enough to follow media for a living. But in the end, it’s all for nothing. CNN knows exactly what it’s doing: bringing in ratings. All other considerations are incidental, right down to the network’s reputation, which everyone else seems to care about a hell of a lot more than the network itself. In case you haven’t figured it out, CNN has proven recently that it’s transcended the notion of embarrassment.
See, here’s the thing: CNN thrives only when news is breaking, and while any sensible person would look at the disappearance of Flight 370 as an interesting mystery but certainly not a consistently “breaking” story, the network knows that the absence of real information is precisely what will allow it to get away with treating the story as if it’s constantly developing. In CNN’s eyes, being able to ask a bunch of questions that don’t have answers is what propels it forward. If there was a conclusion to report, the story would basically be over.
And this tactic is paying off in terms of numbers because what CNN also understands is that, unlike, say, Fox News, nobody watches it for longer than maybe about a half-hour at a time, so if they’re constantly updating this story they become destination viewing for any idiot who’s fascinated by it. CNN is well aware how foolish it looks right now — the network wouldn’t be offering anonymous defenses of this shit-show if it didn’t — but it won’t let that stop it because average people, not professional media-watchers who aren’t the audience anyway, are tuning in for a change.
CNN’s insane obsession with the missing Malaysia Airlines jet is the TV news equivalent of an Adam Sandler movie: it’s pretty much critic proof. Ridicule it all you want — this is the future of CNN. It’s sad, certainly, but there isn’t a damn thing anyone can do about it. The only saving grace here is that at some point the mystery of what happened to this flight will be solved and CNN will go back to being a network nobody really pays attention to. Until the next inconsequential story it decides to blow way out of proportion, of course.