I tried the polite version of this argument last week – reminding everyone that, all things considered, the terrorist attack in Boston was handled well and did minimal damage – but a few days in airports, standing among CNN-blaring monitors, broke me. Why are we still talking about this? Let me qualify that; why are we still talking about this 24 hours per day?

Is it a story? Certainly. But jesus tap-dancing christ, watch a half-hour of CNN and witness the raw banality, the extent of the overkill being inflicted upon us at this point. It's a strange combination of wild speculation, Grief Porn, and countless interviews with individuals of no importance who do little more than idly chat about things already reported in the preceding weeks. Oh yes, let's hear from another of the attacker's college classmates. Another Marathon spectator and was kinda-vaguely near the bombing. Another important guest who will make blanket statements of dubious utility about Chechnya. Just shut up. For fuck's sake, even Fox News has moved on to something else at this point.

Look, I and the rest of the world are terribly sorry for the families of the three dead victims and the many survivors whose lives were changed forever. But my god, things of this magnitude happen every day. Here and abroad. When three people die in a freeway accident, we don't devote three weeks to it. When three people are gunned down in Chicago's South Shore, it's a blip on the screen. We pay almost no attention, here in 2013, to people who come back from Afghanistan or Iraq with a missing leg or disfiguring wound. Three people died, and for that we are all sad. But it was nearly three weeks ago, and the "manhunt" portion of the show is long over. Let it go.

What is CNN even going for here? Are they drawing out the coverage to overcompensate (and do penance) for how horribly they botched the real-time reporting? Are they trying to flank Fox News on the right, baiting viewers with more Islamophobia and Keifer Sutherland-like tales of clandestine terror, Enhanced Interrogation, and Russian secret agents? This has turned into a D-list Tom Clancy novel, and it's approximately as entertaining.

At this point it is almost interesting to see how long they can hold out before they stop doing 24-hour Boston coverage. Almost.

51 thoughts on “SATURATION. AND BEYOND.”

  • CNN has a problem, and I think you're seeing evidence of it here: they do not have a narrative. Fox has a narrative: "America is way fucked because of progressives but thank God and Baby Jesus we have the ring wing true Americans to save the day." MSNBC has a narrative: "America is way fucked because of GOP brownshirts and corporate villainy but hurray the good people with the (D) after their names." With such narratives, all news can be spun into something sensation–when you have a plot, all events can be made to contribute to that plot, and then exaggerated to be sufficiently sensation for broadcast.

    CNN has no such narrative. It veers wildly from event to event with no connective ligament–no thread–no blueprint on which to expand, minimalize, distort or fabricate the events of the day. Thus, it can only try–and fail–to make the boring stuff interesting or exciting or meaningful based on said stuff's inherent qualities, rather than for some way in which said stuff is yet more proof of The Big Story, the narrative.

    Hence the beating of the dead horse. There's nothing for them to talk about today that is as remotely interesting as what happened in Boston last week, so they're going to have to keep talking about Boston last week until something sufficiently interesting happens. Such is the miserable lot of those who live by puffery rather than propaganda.

  • Wow, still stuck on Boston? Australian news was done with that in three or four days. We're now back on regular programming: Rupert and his fellow freedom-fighters fighting to free us from our evil, sadistic government.

    Oh, I'm sorry. Upon re-reading, it sems I have made an error in that last sentence. What I meant to say (obvs!) was "Fair and impartial news services holding our leaders to account in an even-handed and entirely professional manner".

  • Even has dropped it.

    But I must admit I'm really interested in the revelations about the family dynamics, because they are epically fucked up.

    I suppose I should just be patient and wait for the inevitable 5000-word New Yorker piece, but Terri Gross had a really great interview today.

  • Middle Seaman says:

    No TV or newspaper news for me. A few blogs, a few twitts and the weather forecast at 11. At close to 70, my blood pressure is in double digits, heart rate less than 60 and last time I screamed was when I wanted to scare my 1st wife away.

    It's springtime in the East. Fields are exploding with flowers. Winter coats are back in the closet.


  • The problem with 24 hour cable news is there really isn't 24 hours worth of news on any given day.

    Look how much air time was devoted to Natalie Holloway.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    Major Kong,
    I beg to differ.
    There IS 24 hours of news every day. It's just that CNN, like our newspapers, has disbanded their foreign offices over the years.

    Unlike FOX, CNN was once, not only considered a reputable news source, but a fairly well regarded one – at least by me. CNN was once a pretty good source for news from around the world.

    Now, they're running on Wolfshit.

    Unless some major celebrity dies, like Michael Jackson, or some minor 4th rate celebrity, like Anna Nicole Smith, or some young white woman they can make into some posthumous celebrity, like the above-mentioned Natalie Holloway (non-white young women need not apply), they don't have a clue as to what to do to get viewers to tune in.


    I hate to tell you this, CNN, 'cause it's all you do anymore, but rehashing old news, ain't "covering" the news – it's just re-hashing. And, by definition, "hash" is already a mix of left-overs – so, there's no need to rehash hash.
    Wait a year, and do a retrospective.

    CNN needs to clean house, and fire everyone except for the make-up and hair crews, the camera folks, and the janitors.
    Everyone who's ON CNN, needs to go, and they need to bring in some new blood, to see if they can do any better.
    They can hardly do any worse…

    And, if that doesn't fix CNN, then they can shut the channel down as a news channel, and remake it into ENN, Entertainment News Networks – which is what it really wants to be.
    And then, they can cover nip-slips, boob and nose jobs, talk about hit TV series, and upcoming movies where all sorts of special effect distract you from the fact that there's no fucking story there, and even if there was, you couldn't understand it because all of the people acting in it apparently all studied Marlon Brando's decades of being acclaimed as a great actor, when he mumbled like some poor schlub who'd had a stroke – and was treated like it was a stroke of genius.

    Fire everyone, CNN.
    Start with Wolf.
    At least Hannity believes the manure he's helping to spread.

  • Most dogs bark a bit when you walk by their yard. Others go on and on and on. Really tiresome. Says a lot about the owners.
    I have no idea what American viewers want. CNN doesn't seem to either. Somewhere, right now, I imagine eager young assistant producers running around trying to figure that out and older hands deep in their cups wondering what the hell happened to the "news" business and how long they can keep shoveling the shit. The network apparently has no editors, so viewers have to do that work by tuning out.
    It is irritating to see but also immensely sad. Absent a narrative, boring as that is, it's all shiny objects.
    I'm with Seaman here: the garden looks pretty good this morning

  • How about a post on the NFL draft for NPF…particularly the etymology of some of the names:

    Barkevious Mingo, (my all-time favorite for now)

    Star Lotulelei

    Datone Jones

    Cordarelle Patterson

    That was just the first round!

  • Ed, kill your tv! You will be happier. You are willfully exposing yourself to stupidity.
    Middle Seaman has the right idea.

  • There is plenty of news out there, but most isn't as interesting as pressure cooker bomber dudes with facebook accounts and possible terror ties. CNN could have a reporter just follow gun crimes, but how boring is it to report that the victims were in the illegal drug trade, the shooter was a convicted felon who shouldn't have had a gun, the families are sad, and the drug trade was the best employment option in the neighborhood? How boring! Reporting on poverty, dropouts, unemployment, guns, drugs, shitty choices, shitty options? Better to report on terrorism, because we can pretend to be able to prevent that. At least the experts have more arguments. Economic debates about poverty? Better not discuss that, since talking heads think middle class families have net worth of a million.

  • I love this blog…you guys are deep into it. Drydens piece was right on the mark. I learned From my twenty years or so of teaching that you can't get your point across unless its wrapped in a narrative. A good story will win the game more so if it plugs in to the listeners belief system. Seaman again puts it into perspective..CNN …who gives a shit?

  • HoosierPoli says:

    Airports and gyms are the only time I'm around CNN anymore, and every time I'm reminded how turbofucked our "national discourse" is. I'm moving back to Germany, where the news happens once a day, nothing much happened, and the most vicious political debate is about how much free money to give to Muslim immigrants.

    And the dirty secret of socialist Europe: if you're middle-class, you don't really pay that much more in taxes than in the US.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    I will say this, as bad as CNN is, it's nothing compared to being exposed to FOX while you're in some bar, or lounge, or doctors or dentists office.

    When did putting FOX on in public do anything except express someones willingness to say, "Yeah, I'm an @$$hole. The kind of @$$hole who watches FOX. The kind who wants to force you to watch it, too, while you ain't got nothing else to watch. Now, whatchs gonna do about it?"

    When I ask if the channel can be changed, and it is, I can't tell you how many times I've been thanked.

  • @c u n d gulag

    I solve that problem in two ways. First, if it's a bar or restaurant, I simply never visit the place a second time. (Unless it's a place with 60 televisions, then they get some slack from me for throwing a bone to the knuckle draggers).

    Second, find yourself a Ninja Remote Stealth Television from Think Geek.

    Solves both problems.

  • I don't know, I think there's a categorical difference between three people dying on the freeway in a traffic accident and three people dying in a spectacular bombing at the Boston marathon. In the first case, those deaths are expected, understood to be simply part of the risk we take to have things like cars and freeways. In some sense, these deaths are societally condoned. In the latter case, it's not expected, not condoned. There's no good reason people should be blown up while watching a marathon. I agree that shooting in inner-city Chicago should get much more coverage than they do, but to pretend that the deaths in Boston were equally news-worthy with every other 3-person death in the country is just a category error.

    Also, fuck cable. Stop paying for it and watching it. You'll be a better human.

  • On the plus side, we are apparently no longer in imminent danger of a nuclear attack by North Korea. I guess that got solved or something. Otherwise we'd hear something about it, right?

  • I am very susceptible to conspiracy theories.

    Yes, yes, shut up, shut up, shut up about the Boston Marathon Bombings!
    That would make time to report on the West, Texas explosions, which affected more people, and did so due to negligence (at best), and in which the guilty parties aren't hard to find, and aren't being punished.

    Or do some investigative journalism, instead of sensationalist speculation. The conspiracy theorists have noted many members of "The Craft" performing security, working arm-in-arm with the FBI, at the marathon, carrying backpacks that more closely resemble the exploded backpack than the one the older brother was carrying. That deserves an explanation. It deserves some investigation. If you've run out of things to discuss on this topic, CNN, you could look into that.

    I'm susceptible to conspiracy theories. And when I see so much attention (both media and law enforcement) focused on something that isn't as significant as other things, it makes me think it's cover.

  • The night of the final drama and capture, we couldn't stomach CNN anymore and put in on Fox for shits and giggles. They were way ahead of CNN on the developments and not insufferable. I couldn't believe it.

  • Thank you for today's post, expressing perfectly what I've been feeling for a week. I live a few miles away from where it all ended and until the very end I was pretty freaked out, glued to news feeds, and looking out my windows wondering if a bomber was going to wander by. But "grief porn" describes beautifully what it's become. We are not, as you say, reflecting on what's different about these four tragic deaths compared to other acts of criminal violence. Why is the Boston bombing definitively "terrorism" now while the daily death toll among young people with guns is not terrorism? Maybe it's different because the violence was intended to express being pissed off at the US while kids killing kids is about drugs and poverty and other stuff we are embarrassed to admit we can't solve. I don't know, but after a brief uptick in my opinion of the news organizations (especially New England Cable Network) it's sunk back down to, "We deserve better than this."

  • Scepticus says:

    J. Dryden, no edit necessary. It was clear to me you meant either "right wing" or "ring worm;" both work in that context.

  • Yeah, CNN is just running on nostalgia fumes now. See, in 2001, the attacks on the WTC were their bread and butter. So I think they think they own terror coverage from now on. Yes, yes, they COULD report on how sequestration cuts are causing senior citizens to starve and people go homeless, but who the fuck cares about that? Just a bunch of slow dying instead of spectacular things like troubled foreign boys and severed limbs. Yawn.

    FYI, if you look up "Barkevious Mingo" on the Internets, you will find that his mother apparently likes the sound of "kevious," and added the first three letters of her name (Barbara) to it for KeKe's name. His brother is named Hughkevious. Yes, their father's name is Hugh. I just know that if I EVER get a dog, it will be called Barkevious Mingo.

  • The sole funny joke from the Washington Correspondents Dinner was when Conan was listing the various cable news networks and described CNN thus "And on CNN today, you have James Earl Jones saying "You're watching CNN?!?""

    If you think CNN is bad, dear FSM on a chpstick their other network "HEadline NEws" is worse, much much worse…it's the home of such journalistic vampires as Nancy Grace and Dr. Drew.

  • I liked your movie Brian…., but Jesus is the real deal.

    I remember the Summer of 2001. We were 'treated" to the ongoing mysterious disappearance of Ms Chandra Levy (about May 1) who was apparently a love interest (and much younger than) a very righteous, married R (get it, R, I'm criticizing an R) Congresscritter Gary Sleaze from Ca.

    It went on all Summer long and started me channel switching away from the news. I believe this was the model for later stories like Ms Holloway's. After 11 Sept, the Gary and Chandra story evaporated…

    I almost never watch cable news any more. It is apparent as many have pointed out here that the cable world is just another profit center/revenue stream for the Mega Comm Corps whether they sway to the Right or to the Left or they Do-si-Do


  • yes give up the TV, it's Right wing manna from heaven. endless stupidity and selling everyone for any price.
    now if you like torture, thinking like Republicans, follow the Leader into Fantasyland, then keep on watching TV. TV is the Nazis revenge, or the KKK addition here in America, only effs up the mind.

    peace awaits, even the capacity to think and accept facts await those who give up the Idiot Box. amazing how it was called the Idiot Box even before the Fox Lies and Hate Network appeared.

    there are various news sources on the internet from outside of America where the Right wing can't control. which pisses off and onto the Right to no end.

    as they say, Freedom isn't Free and neither it the TV. the price for any kind of TV is way way too much.

  • They're all bad, but I still think Fox is leading the race to the bottom.

    If I want something approaching real news I listen to the BBC on the radio.

  • Death Panel Truck says:

    BB: Gary Condit was a "D." Had he been an "R," you'd have never heard of him, 'cuz the corporate media would have buried the story. IOKIYAR.

  • albanaeon says:

    I really think that the reason CNN doesn't have anything but rehash, is that otherwise they might actually have to report on NEWS. I am firmly convinced that our cable news is entirely about making people feel informed, while doing everything to make sure they aren't. As long as they can keep going on about Boston, they can avoid actually slipping in anything relevant. Its safer that way…

  • @DPT


    I accept the Homer Simpson In-Depth Research Award on behalf of my staff….

    My experience has been when a D is involved in a scandal, you rarely see a party affiliation attached in the MSM story. The 'cash in the freezer' Congressman comes to mind…..Of course, with my Homer award and all….


  • @DPT

    IA Not AR – but because I spout more to the right than most here, I am accused of R suck-uppery on a regular basis.


  • Anonymouse says:

    @bb; on the contrary, especially if it's FUX Noize, anytime a Republican does anything wrong, he's immediately identified as a Democrat. Correction, if any, comes days later as a quickly-scrolling chiron at the bottom of the screen.

  • @anonymouse

    The case that was particularly egregious was William "Freezer Cash" Jefferson, D – La. His scandal went on for weeks w/o the MSM mentioning that the was a D.

    Where is your specific? 'anytime'? At least I said 'rarely'


  • I threw my TV out twenty years ago after spewing bile watching PBS putting forth "balanced" news stories where they would dig up some complete idiot like Louie Gommert for a balance to whatever fact was on the table. When I manage to catch a whiff of TV tripe sitting in a bar somewhere, I always smile and congratulate myself on the wisdom of my choice. Like many have said here, there are some reasonable sources of news. They just aren't on TV.

  • BB, too bad you don't live here in New Orleans where the D was all that mattered. and a Black D at that. a double win. Black Government Thief. it was always in the spotlight. you know how the R's who run LA love showing how the Blacks suck on the Government's teat/taxpayers. and of course, the David Vitter prostitute (R) was quietly hushed and still never brought up.

    BB, i do wish, at times, i could live in your "safe" and sanitary R world. would make for some comfortable ignorant days and nights. at least America would make a lot more "sense" to the educated thinking folks who have to listen to the constant Parade of it's okay if you are a Republican morals. hey, we even go Bobby Jindal, the Nazi Asian American who thinks being the stupid party won't attract all the people the Republican have been screwing over for the last 40 yrs.

    Louisiana, because we had corruption before it became Southern, then American, via the Republican Coup D'etat. thanks to Sandra Day O'Connor.

  • John Hoffman says:

    If you want news that is sometimes balanced and fair, sometimes not, try the Al Jazeera English site at:

    I don't recommend you visit here in lieu of other reportage, but rather to get a difference worldview.

  • Derek Voorhees says:

    I can't remember the source, but I once read an article that explained the narratives of the different networks. That article/blog said that CNN's schtick was heroes, villains, and survivors. After viewing through that particular filter, I felt some resonance there. If I collected a dollar for every time CNN has used the word "hero" in the last year, I could hire Ted Turner as my pool boy.

  • Want real news? Try Al Jazeera. News covered the way CNN did when it was a start-up. The one hour broadcasts on-line (without commercials) are better than the half hour versions. Started watching during Egypt's revolution and haven't looked backed. Very smart and unbiased reporters and anchors, many previously with the BBC or CNN International. They did cover Boston in great detail without wallowing in it. News from all over the world that never makes the so-called news networks here. Can't wait for Al Jazeera America later this year.

  • James M. Martin says:

    I understand that Glenn Beck is going to speak to at the NRA conveention. I managed to get hold of a text of his speech and can tell you that he will address the government's secret plan to take our weapons away from us so that they can enslave us in a Godless communist system that has been in place since the assassination of JFK. The multinational corporate media are in on it for the most part, but for those still on the fence, the Boston Bombings were staged to distract us from the boy dictator in North Korea, but they miscalculated and the Tsarnaev boys went too far. (The two were in trouble with the INS and were about to be deported and only agreed to help out if the Russians would refrain from murdering their parents back home.) I could tell you a lot more, but I have go do something about those voices I keep hearing in my ears. Let's see, there is a pencil around here somewhere….

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