Strangely, it's one of my first memories as an adolescent. Eyes glued to the TV, waiting in semi-suspense for the green fireworks show to begin. Rapt, in awe of the technology that enabled not only the off-screen reporters the ability to see and narrate goings-on in the middle of the night, but that illuminated a foreign desert, as well as unfathomably massive, cannon-laden gunships, over a half a world away...
A surreal scene, to be sure. And for someone nearing the precipice of hormonal haywire, the whole alternating visage of gunship missiles and smoky Baghdad hotels was almost too much fun to keep up with.
Voiced-over by the melodramatic monotone of then-relatively unknown Ewok/Future Desk Anchor Wolf Blitzer, the scene unfolded with made-for-TV precision, capturing the attention of a distracted nation and wagging the dog with the efficiency of a Westminster Wiener Dog (terrible, I know).
That was my first real introduction to CNN, as well as the idea of round-the-clock news, round-table commentary and the wartime correspondent. Before that, I had little idea what a war actually was, much less how detached and entertainment-starved our culture had become.
The rationale for committing the U.S. to the first Gulf War was almost as dubious as the reasoning for the second.
And CNN salivated at the opportunity.
Itself in adolescence, the network needed a real coming out party; something that would put it on par with the Big 3 and, once-and-for-all, justify it's place as a news-gathering, ratings-gulping juggernaut.
And Bush I needed a distraction from a fledgling presidency; a way to make a name for himself while keeping American eyes focused on anything but a terrible economy and general sense of administrative incompetency.
It was a match; a marriage of criminal and Public Relations. Catching wind of wartime rhetoric, talk of "Crazy Saddam" going after the helpless Kuwaitis, coming from wonks and Pentagon goofs in Washington,. CNN knew it's big break was coming, and coming fast.
The fireworks show began. Critical thinking was dealt yet another blow. And CNN became the awful, awful powerhouse of mind-numbingly mindless ambulance chasing personality and pomp they had always wanted.
Another blow to journalism. Another boost for television.
That was over 25 years ago. And really, what has changed? In between spurts of what could be mistaken for good TV journalism are dimwitted pundits spitting saliva and nonsense at one another for hour-long "debate segments." Personalities, not journalists, anchor these programs, placing egos and waxed smiles above what could be a real opportunity to inform the public on the shit-basket we seem to be sharing a ride in.
Don't get me wrong. CNN does employ good journalists. And every now and then one of them gets it right. Hell, there's even been somewhat of an effort to improve the process since ol' eyebrows has taken over, and many in Atlanta seem to be motivated to get something right this time around...for as long as the producers will allow them, that is...
To add, it's not like President Butternuts McScrewFace is making it difficult to rediscover one's passion for news reporting, The trail of breadcrumbs, sleazebags and social media sludge circling this cocksucker is so thick, how could anyone with a microphone, a tape recorder and a soul possibly be sitting on their hands? Journalistic passion has been undeniably and at long last renewed by this tornado of truthiness, detachment and the shameless, cold-blooded murder of accountability.
However, that doesn't mean CNN doesn't deserve anyone's rancor. Just because Jon Stewart is done deservedly and hilariously lambasting, mocking and eviscerating the 24-hour nonstop shit show on a nightly basis and for the whole nation to re-watch on YouTube doesn't mean they still don't, well, suck.
CNN has learned nothing. Sure, they've taken the brunt of Thump's public "beatings" as of late, and they did act fast on the retraction of a story that was largely unverified (though, in all seriousness, probably true), but they didn't hesitate to turn around and, petulantly, I might add, release a rather ominous statement about refusing to publicly expose some middle-aged Internet ratfucker for posting something a million others post on a daily basis.
That's not to say I hate CNN. Like I said, there are some bright spots in there. But the need to fill 24 hours of space with anything and everything leaves little no room to really care about ANYTHING OR EVERYTHING.
Not that the other round-the-clockers are any better. MSNBC can't find it's footing, and Fox News is and has always been unapologetically thinly-disguised, agenda-driven drivel.
But as the vanguard, the flag-bearer, the innovator, CNN could do a lot better. Right now, it's a marketing platform, not much different form Facebook or Twitter.
"Fill the space with something, ANYTHING, and keep it running constantly. Be sure to fill it up with ads so they don't forget to buy soap."
CNN, in my humble estimation, has always been a nightmare. Nothing has changed since the days of "No New Taxes", Patriot Missiles and those fateful, grunge-soaked 90s. It doesn't take some half-wit in a bad tie to tell me that. It was and has always been fueled by creating and fulfilling a need; a endless marketing ploy, designed to generate the constant need for news by promoting fear and uncertainty 24/7.
Feed the addiction slowly. Drip drip drip. Just make sure they're here tomorrow.
Anti-CNN rant over...for now.
Yours in Journalistic Integrity
Next Time...Hollywood and the Death of Originality, or something