Discover more from Okay History
Fake News is Born!
Fake News began on this day. Come read my hot take on the platform that birthed such an idea.
Fake News was launched on this day back in 1980 when Ted Turner founded the Cable News Network (CNN). Sometimes a terrible idea ends up being a really terrible idea.
Television during the late 1970s and early 1980s was transforming into the platforms we see as commonplace today. The Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN) first aired 268 days prior. Music Television (MTV) would begin its legacy 426 days later. For some reason, someone decided we needed sports, news, and music videos blaring into our faces all day, every day.
You cannot deny the popularity of such innovative thinking. Today there are roughly 2,378 networks* that air a specific subject daily for 24 hours. You can watch what your stocks are doing, the cartoons you grew up with, movies, every Law & Order episode, and by this point, you get the picture.
Thank Goodness for War!
CNN really took off when the first Gulf War began in 1991. First news anchor Bernard Shaw captured the country’s attention by describing the beginning of the military attack on Iraq. I was one of those people who watched with my parents in our living room. It became a defining moment, one that would forever change how we consume information.
The programming format is simple and copied among the rivals that joined later (MSNBC and Fox News – both introduced themselves in 1996) – morning news programming, current news updates in the afternoon, and annoying political commentary at night. CNN has been known to throw in a good program every now and again.
I Hate You.
The downside of such theater is that to sustain viewership, you must develop a brand. Either you come up with it, or like political elections, your opponents will do it for you. In the news cable space, the right hates MSNBC, the left hates Fox News, and just about everyone hates CNN.
Drama sells, which is why we end up electing a bit actor in Home Alone Two president of the United States. This guy rose to prominence because he was a jerk, and networks in constant need of programming were happy to provide him multiple platforms that continue today.
What is interesting about cable news is just how little the population engages. Roughly about 6-8 million Americans watch these networks. Thankfully, the pandemic has seemed to cut into the viewership.
I’m sure at some point we devoured this product as part of a balanced meal. I admit there were many years when I would eat breakfast with the Today Show before work and go to bed with MSNBC. Not coincidentally, my depression was at an all-time high during this period of my life.
Breaking up from Ann Curry is easy; weaning yourself off Rachel Maddow took a bit longer. But I did it, and I’m happy to say I will never go back.
You Come for the Perspective
One reason why I started this blog is just to provide simple, funny views on history. I do hold particular opinions. You may perceive the ideas I view differently. This is normal and common. Our discussion on issues and topics can, however, become more argumentative. Why does it rise to such hostility?
Blame Someone Else
I can mostly point to cable news – which began over 40 years ago-as one important reason we stand on opposite sides of a tremendous political canyon. We birthed, raised, and now watched a fully developed philosophy of constant information that is unyielding. We take sides. My side is correct, however.
As I get older, I hope I get wiser. The constant yelling, gaslighting, and general "hot takes" is a barrier to living a healthy life. These vices spill over to sports programming and are a staple when you turn on your radio. How many Stephen A. Smith reaction segments can you take? I stopped at like, two.
Turn it Off
Unfortunately, the genie is out of the bottle. We will never return to the days when we had the morning paper, followed by the evening edition, and living our lives in the middle. We carry the world in our pocket, unlimited information at our fingertips. We unwind by watching Tucker Carson tell us COVID -19 vaccines are actually killing us.
We can protect ourselves. We do this by turning it off.
How much do you dislike CNN? Are we capable of turning these networks off completely?
(*) This is just a guess, okay?