The responsibility of the news media is a profound one. News corporations have the task to dispense news and important information from around the world to the average news consumer sometimes in a 24-hour news cycle, seven days a week. With the arrival of cable networks, the competition of which organization breaks the hottest stories of the day ﬁrst, beating everyone else to the punch for signiﬁcant ratings, the news soon became a marketable commodity that afforded tremendous proﬁt for advertisers and Wall Street. Once upon a time, trustworthy news reporting came down to three major networks, local newspapers, and national journals such as Time Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times. Then on June 1, 1980, Ted Turner and his partner Reese Schonfeld turned on the power at CNN for 24 hours of news. News all day. News all night. There was really nothing like it. Before newspapers hit the corners at the crack of dawn, CNN had the latest, up-to-date, news. CNN was the juggernaut for cable news. The blueprint. The trusted source for 24-hour news. By the time Roger Ailes and Keith Rupert Murdock rolled out Fox News, CNN was the most watched cable news channel in the world.
But we all know this story’s beginning. We also know the good, the bad, and the ugly of cable news. We know that Roger Ailes and Keith Rupert Murdock’s quest to turn Fox News into the prime source for conservative think tanks and news was successful. Yet could they have known or predicted that in the quest to co-opt White supremacist thought into mainstream conservatism that Fox News would become the little engine that could? The little engine that started out small, but soon became an entire arm of a radicalized Republican party; a proliﬁc news organization that transformed politics and policy into political hatred and assassination? Two Republican presidents, George Bush, Jr. and Donald J. Trump used Fox News to push lies and political rhetoric onto the American news consumer that morally corrupted and muddied the waters of journalistic integrity. CNN and MSNBC could point ﬁngers and offer hundreds of hours of commentary on the sullied sight of journalistic adultery between Fox News and the Republican party, especially after the 2016 presidential election win of Trump. However, the subsequent four years of the Trump administration, the 2020 election, and the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol Hill insurrection turned the cable news establishment upside down. Viewers flocked to the misinformation and political nonsense of Fox News in droves. Fox News became the number one cable news network with a primetime lineup of conservative hosts who offered news at the altar of journalistic integrity but was something other than journalism. Substantiated facts and straightforward news reporting could sparsely be found on the network. None of that really mattered though. The ratings and the continuous feeding of the radicalized MAGA viewer became the principal focus. CNN and MSNBC looked on from the sideline shaking their proverbial ﬁngers at Fox News, but we know now that CNN was secretly hatching a plan of its own to regain its perch at the top of the ratings pile.
Last week CNN hosted what it called a “Town Hall” with former president Donald J. Trump. Kaitlyn Collins, a national correspondent with CNN who at one time was a conservative journalist was the moderator or facilitator. To say the “town hall” was a huge misstep for CNN is an understatement. The event was nothing more than a rehashing of Trump’s greatest hits of lies that he has said so many times in the past that now he believes them. Any and every lie that Trump has ever told, with the exception that Barack Obama was not born in the United States, came running like a waterfall out of his mouth, as the executives at CNN knew they would. There was nothing in place to fact check Trump in real time. The “town hall” was one giant campaign commercial for Donald J. Trump. CNN accomplished what it had set out to do from the start: grab the ratings by parading Trump on its airwaves. This was not about balanced reporting. This was not about giving Republicans a fair shake on CNN. This was not even about courting the potential frontrunner for the Republican nomination. This was about capturing the audience that seceded from Fox News after the Tucker Carlson ﬁring. This was and is about CNN changing its landscape to appear more friendly and welcoming to the extremists of MAGA. It was never about journalism. It is about math. Proﬁt margins. A ratings bonanza because cable news has now entered a new era thanks to Fox News, and CNN is on the bandwagon. CNN wants to entertain its audience. Not inform them. Like Fox News.
In the meantime, Gov. Ron DeSantis is turning back the hands of time in the state of Florida. With the signing into law the dissolution of Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI) programs in public state colleges, DeSantis has once again revealed his racist slip. These programs are very necessary in a country that has embraced the myth of White supremacy from its founding. The DEI program was instituted to provide an inclusive landscape on campus and in the classroom. It was the extra insurance that minority professors and students receive some semblance of a fair shake within the institution. With that barometer peeled away, the studentfaculty ratio will look awfully reminiscent of a time where only White MEN were the majority represented on campus. DeSantis is truly working overtime to make it appear that he is some Messiah to racists and bigots across America by turning Florida into a massive playground where pre-civil rights era Southern ideology can romp freely and thrive, hoping that his efforts will translate into support for his yet to be announced presidential aspirations. But what he has forgotten is how this story will end because we have been here before. The indomitable spirit of the souls of the oppressed will always escape to freedom.