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Last night, Jon Stewart ripped into the media, specifically CNN, for their bad coverage of the D.C. shooting.

Can we distill cable news down to its crunchy center?

(audience laughter)

When I said let's have a baboon masturbating, I didn't think we could find that footage.  Wow, we have the best research staff in the country!

But of course, that's just 24-hour cable filler, slow news day, conflict chum.  It's what cable news channels do while waiting for events that truly justify their existence — urgent, soul-crushing breaking news.  Like a mass shooting, the kind that now happens all too frequently in this for-some-reason-pathologically-unable-to-try-and-stop-them country.  It's times like these that we require the type of context and clarity that only these noble dormant cable giants (audience laughter) — why are you laughing? (more audience laughter) — can provide.

GREGG JARRETT (9/16/2013): Now, I don't want to speculate, but....
I'm sorry, did I say context and clarity?  I meant speculation.  Yes, for every all-too-familiar American tragedy, you can be sure the news will exacerbate it with yet another Force 5 Wrongnado.

Get inside, everybody!  Get inside!  And hope for a power outage!

CHRIS JANSING (9/16/2013): If there were as many as three shooters, that would change this situation dramatically.

ARI MELBER (9/16/2013): Right now, NBC News has the report of just one shooter.  There were earlier reports about multiple shooters.

PETE WILLIAMS (9/16/2013): There has been a name that's been reported, but we're told that the name that's out there is incorrect.

EAMON JAVERS (9/17/2013): By the end of the rampage, Alexis had a shotgun, he had a handgun, he had an AR-15.

EAMON JAVERS (9/17/2013): There were initial reports from authorities that the shooter in this case used an AR-15. ... That apparently now is not true.

FOX NEWS ANCHOR (9/16/2013): Again, we're just speculating here, but this is experienced speculation.

(audience laughter)

Oh, yes it is.

(in old timer's voice) "You know, I'm an old hand when it comes to speculation, but I've been doing it since you were a gleam in your pappy's eye.  I was the first one who suggested John F. Kennedy was killed by spontaneous combustion!  Turned out to be wrong, but hee-hee!"

But you know, for sheer accumulation of breathless wrongness, there's really only one source that matters.

This is CNN.
BRIAN TODD (9/16/2013): A little bit of a buzz here, activity here. Not sure exactly what that means. ... This is down 11th street. You see a couple of officers rushing down the street toward those flashing lights. ... We've seen some tactical vehicles moving around here. ... We saw at least four S.W.A.T. team members with helmets on and what appeared to be night vision goggles. ... We can see some of these squad cars around here. ... This apparently is a... some kind of a rescue chopper, and we've seen kind of a rescue basket or something. ... That's about as low as we've seen him go, so that is kind of an interesting development.
No, no!  That's not an interesting development.  Those aren't interesting developments.  You're just standing in front of a camera naming shit you see!  (audience cheering and applause)

It's not anything!  It's like walking down the street with a 5-year-old.  "Police car!  Fire hydrant!"

For some reason, CNN felt the need to include their search for even the most banal of background facts.

9/16/2013:

CAROL COSTELLO: Paul Courson, are you on the line?  (silence on the other end)  Paul Courson? ... Let's go to Barbara Starr again, because she knows about this building.  How large is this building, Barbara?  (silence on the other end)  Barbara's on the phone.  Barbara's on the phone with her sources gathering more information.  Mike Brooks, do you know the answer to that question, how large is this building? ... All right, let's go to Todd Sperry, are you on the line?  Todd Sperry?

TODD SPERRY: Yes, I'm here.  I am here.

CAROL COSTELLO: OK, Todd, tell us how large this building is.  Do you know?

Can someone just tell her how fucking big the building is?!?  Just tell her how large the fucking building is!!  Someone please!!!  (audience cheering and applause)

We're not going to get to move forward until she finds out how large this building is.  We're in square footage wormhole territory here!

And then, inevitably, Blitzer.

WOLF BLITZER (9/16/2013): The fact, Tom, that this individual's described as someone dressed in a black top, black jeans, what does that say if anything about a possible motive or whatever?  Can we begin to draw any initial conclusions?
What does a black top and black jeans say about a possible motive?  I don't know, why don't you ask your best colleague?

(wild audience cheering and applause)

But perhaps the worst part of the Blitzer reportage — besides using phrases like "Can we begin to draw any initial conclusions?" — that's kind of a semantic workaround for saying, "Make shit up.  I'm on until 4."

It's CNN's brash on-air acknowledgement that they should not be doing this at all!

WOLF BLITZER (9/16/2013): What does that say if anything about a possible motive or whatever?  Can we begin to draw any initial conclusions?  And I want to alert our viewers, sometimes these initial conclusions can obviously be very very wrong.
Yes, yes!  Yes, correct!  They can be very, very wrong!  So don't say them out loud.  If it's an urge inside of you that you have to get out, have a speculation jar.

(yells into jar)  Holy fuck!  I think this is a terror attack or a nuclear bomb!  Oh my God, we're all gonna die!

(wild audience cheering and applause)

(Jon reopens jar, smells it)

Someone keeps weed in this.  (hilarious audience laughter)  Who keeps weed in this?  Somebody keeps weed in this.  Motherfucker!  Really??

All right, this speculation, it's like a compulsion.

BARBARA STARR (9/16/2013): If there are two shooters, Wolf, if that proves to be correct, it is going to be the most significant fact.

ANDERSON COOPER (9/16/2013): That's a startling piece of information, if that in fact turns out to be accurate.

WOLF BLITZER (9/16/2013): This may be information he believes to be accurate, that he's been given, but turns out to be inaccurate.

JAKE TAPPER (9/16/2013): In a situation like this, the information that is flowing so quickly is often wrong.  And you now have some information for us.

I know you think that saying this could all be wrong makes it OK to say it, but it doesn't make it OK.  No one else in the world is allowed to operate that way.  "Hello, I'm your doctor, you have cancer.  Of course, obviously, a lot of my initial diagnoses are very, very wrong.  That being said, you have cancer.  Unless you don't.  These test results are just coming in here, so fast and furious.  And I can't wait.  I'll know for sure in an hour if you have cancer or not, but fuck it!  You have cancer!  I just gotta get it out!"  (audience cheering and applause)

And that's when I realized all of yesterday's confusion in the reporting — it's not a mistake.  Because sadly, the one thing in this country they should have great practice in covering are these horrific shooting tragedies.  And there are a ton of really smart people and good journalists who work over at CNN.  And this is only five months after all the criticisms of CNN's chaotic Boston terrorism coverage, including when they announced on-air an arrest that had not happened.

So my final, not initial, conclusion is, this is deliberate.  The chaos, the vomit onto the screen, the very thing we thought news organizations were created to clarify is a feature, not a bug.  Here's CNN's boss describing the lesson they learned from their Boston coverage.

JEFF ZUCKER (5/29/2013): So we made that mistake on the Wednesday of that Boston coverage.  Two days later, as the drama unfolded in Boston, we had our biggest audience in ten years.  You know who got it, you know who understood that we made a mistake and we announced it?  The audience.
Oh my God!  The lesson they take from this is, it doesn't matter how much they betray our trust, we'll keep coming back.  We're in an abusive relationship with CNN!  And it's time we kicked those bastards to the curb.  Because we have to remember, this network was created by Ted Turner, not Ike Turner.  We'll be right back.
Video below the fold.

Jon's own news team then followed up with their own live reporting on this.
Meanwhile, Stephen looked at the super-rich with another installment of Colbert Platinum.
He then looked at the latest Cheerios ad that tugs at your heart (maybe cynically) by making you think of your dead relatives.
Jon talked with Jake Gyllenhaal, and Stephen talked with Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Originally posted to BruinKid on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Electronic America: Progressives Film, music & Arts Group.

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