Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Jake Tapper's Defensiveness Highlights Cable News Shortcomings

This evening a friend of the blog called out CNN The Lead reporter Jake Tapper, on a point about terrorists killing other Muslims in the name of Islam. The following was the last paragraph in a blog post on The Lead's blog about online terrorist chatter regarding Malaysia Airlines Flight 370:
"But there's been a very strong push back from some of these jihadist forums that there were Muslims on board, an so taking down an airplane that killed Muslims was at its core an act not supported by Islam," said Jones.
This is a classic bullshit argument by terrorist organizations like Al Qaida, who claim that killing co-religionists goes against Islam and, thus, against their murderous dogma. It is well known that Al Qaida actually murders more Muslims than any other group of people in their terrorist acts, which Nihar called out to Tapper.

Tapper's last comment, insinuating that Nihar was uninformed because he did not watch CNN clips online, led me to jump in because that claim is preposterous (we'll get into why in a minute).

The fact that Tapper thinks he didn't take a shot when he told Nihar that informed people have time to watch video is either him being willfully ignorant or blatantly backtracking (or both). But that's beside the point.

The Lead published a blog post that Nihar called out, to which Tapper said it wasn't the full story. It looks like it was meant as a teaser to watch the CNN clip. Which begs the question, should blog posts like the one The Lead posted be standalone pieces of journalism, or more like native previews to a video that has a lucrative ad before it?

This makes sense financially - and the argument that this is how digital outlets need to make their money is valid. But is it good journalism? Probably not.

And Nihar's point of delivering news in a timely manner is an important one - after sitting through an ad, the viewer needs to watch a video that's 3:21 long to get the info about Islamic terrorists killing other Muslims. That's fine for those with the time, but Nihar proved that information can be delivered much faster with the same accuracy by simply tweeting at Tapper to begin with.

Which brings me to my bigger point. When CNN launched in 1980, it was revolutionary. It was the only channel devoted solely to the news, which meant you didn't have to wait for the paper to come out or for the regularly scheduled news broadcasts on other, non-100% news channels.

But that was 34 years ago, and in that time we've seen the pitfalls of trying to fill 24 hours of news programming. A move towards more sensational news reporting as more channels entered the field led to an overall decline in the news we consume.

Looking just at the Malaysia Airlines fiasco, it's been a lot of speculation about the flight, including Don Lemon wondering if God did something to the plane outside of our understanding, and a lot of playing with toys on air. This is not the first time I've pointed something out like this (namely because it is not the first time the issue has been at the forefront.) Plus, CNN employs Nancy Grace.

So in summation, Jake Tapper's wrong that more informed people watch CNN as opposed to read blogs or other online outlets. Sure, you have your InfoWars and other junk "news" sites, but when it comes to proper reporting, sticking with outlets like the New York Times or major broadcast networks will get you more accurate information. You may not get it as quickly, but with outlets like Twitter the networks and legacy outlets play on a similar level in breaking (accurate) news.

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