Cable TV news: A mere shadow of what it could and should be

News reporting is, without a doubt, extremely important. But that is just not enough, we also need these T.V. channels to go a step further and expand their horizons.

Image Credit: Imperial College London

U.S. television news, in particular the cable news channels, are failing the American people by doing a far less than adequate job of informing and educating them on critical issues and problems facing this country. This part of the national media is, indeed, a mere shadow of what it could and should be.

We have the internet, truly one of the wonders of the world of technology, near or at the top of the list of providing information. It is a tremendous educational tool like no other. If one acquires the ability to search the web, using the right keywords, he or she can find almost anything.

But most Americans don’t regularly use the internet to inform themselves about day to day happenings in this country, they use newspapers, radio stations, and television, with most of the information coming from television channels.

One of the main reasons for the poor turnout in our mid-term and presidential elections is that a great many Americans are so poorly educated on the most important issues of the day. When they are uninformed it makes it difficult for them to determine who the best candidates are and, as a result, many of them just stay home.

Watching CNN and MSNBC, and yes, even the twisted Fox News, can be very painful as they concentrate the bulk of their reporting on one individual or issue on a given day and then talk about it from early morning to late night. And, very likely, the next and, sometimes the next day.

When it’s Michael Cohen in the spotlight that’s all we hear all through the day and into the evening. It’s nothing but Michael Cohen almost to the complete exclusion of anyone else. One host and his or her guests talk endlessly about what he has done or not done to get himself into trouble, what he might divulge about Trump.

I think I’ve heard the words witch hunt, hoax, fraud, and no collusion ten thousand or more times in the last two years, as well as the statement that illegal immigrants are criminals, murderers, rapists, and drug dealers. Will this ever end?

Then it’s Paul Manafort, then it’s more of Trump, Trump, and more Trump. The same former prosecutors and other lawyers go on and on, one sounding much like the other, beating an issue to death. Then there is the ongoing, seemingly endless debate and discussion over Trump’s wall. We hear that his national emergency declaration is illegal and against the Constitution, but I don’t recall watching any in depth discussion by Constitutional scholars to explain just why.

This article is a followup to my previous one from last August entitled “Not “fake news”, but too narrow in scope, needing greater depth.” The main premise of that article was about how these cable news channels were delivering news to the American people but it was not comprehensive enough. The main point was that they are falling short of delivering in depth reporting. Their choice of issues to present is far too shallow, their presentations are much too repetitious, and becoming very boring.

In that article a number of very important subjects and issues that needed far more discussion were identified, such as the wars in Yemen and Syria. Let’s now expand on that and present a wider range of subjects and issues that this media should be covering,, but is not.

These cable news channels should mix these issues in with with political news reporting throughout the day. I’m not talking about presenting just one show about an important issues and then it’s over and done; we need to see a series of discussions on each one. They don’t have to severely reduce political reporting, they and politics can co-exist.

Here are some of them:

Relative to the national infrastructure: how much would a program to repair and rebuild it cost versus going even further and returning this national asset to world class? How many bridges need to be repaired or replaced? What about the condition of waterways, the electrical grid, water delivery and sewer systems, highways, interstates, and other key elements.

How about healthcare. Bring in experts in the field to discuss the many problems with the current system(s), the massive costs, the mountains of paperwork, and high, ever increasing premiums; the potential for a universal healthcare systems such as countries in Europe and Scandinavia have, the pros and cons of the proposed Medicare At 50 program that is gaining many supporters.

Massive inequity of income and wealth in America, millions living paycheck to paycheck, people working two or even more jobs just to make ends meet, to survive. The Trump tax cut to further benefit the wealthy, millions of Americans living below the poverty line, dependence upon food stamps and other forms of governmental help.

Immigration, the full scope, not just the Trump wall. Discuss his phony national emergency in relation to the Constitution. Show how the states of California, Florida, Colorado, and others are so very dependent on these immigrants in their agricultural industries; how all this illegal influx was initiated by companies across America to reduce labor costs. And how the government let them get away with it. Talk about a complete overhaul of the entire immigration system.

Domestic terrorism, i.e., out of control mass shootings, the murders of our children, the complete refusal of this Congress, because of Republican continued opposition, to take steps to solve the problem and end this madness.

I’m won’t go into such detail on all the remaining issues but I will identify more of them that need the same kind of in depth reporting.

The Iranian Nuclear Treaty, the Paris Climate Accord, and the IMF treaty, Why Trump made a massive blunder in canceling those treaties, why they must be restored.

Climate change is a subject that is largely being ignored, whether by the Congress, the press, or TV. The media is doing a lousy job with this critically important issue that involves a distinct threat to this planet and our civilization.

Not perfect by any means, but major newspapers such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, and a few others, do a far better job of reporting the news by carrying out thorough investigations of important matters.

T.V. news channels don’t need to do such in depth investigations because that’s not what they are designed to do. They do more basic news reporting and they regularly report on what these newspaper investigations discover. News reporting is, without a doubt, extremely important. But that is just not enough, we also need these T.V. channels to go a step further and expand their horizons.

Nothing is more important than this need to inform and educate the American people. That’s how important changes in government come about, when people better understand what is really going on, get far more involved, and demand change.


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Michael Payne is an independent progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues; and especially with the great dangers involved with the proliferation of perpetual war, the associated defense industry, and the massive control that Corporate America holds over this government and our election process; all which are leading this nation down the road to eventual financial ruin if the conditions are not reversed. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois and a U.S. Army veteran.