CNN’s coverage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has reached such astounding stupidity in the past five weeks that it accomplished something previously unimaginable: uniting Bill O’Reilly and Rachel Maddow on the same side of an issue. Both cable news hosts think their counterparts at CNN should shut up about the missing plane — not that Jeff Zucker cares. CNN’s ratings are through the roof, and if it takes blind speculation or goofy props to maintain those numbers, then — dammit! — that’s what viewers will get. It’s been 39 days since Flight 370 disappeared, and we still know little about what happened, but CNN keeps talking, and in doing so, embarrassing itself. Here are the network’s worst moments:
The “Supernatural” Hypothesis: More than any other anchor, Don Lemon has turned himself into a punchline during CNN’s incessant Flight 370 coverage (Wolf Blitzer was already there). Lemon’s first worst moment came nine days after the plane disappeared, when he “just put it out there” that maybe something “supernatural” happened.
The Black Hole Hypothesis: A few days later, Lemon showed that he hadn’t learned his lesson by asking a former U.S. Department of Transportation inspector general if a black hole might have sucked the plane out of the sky.
Not a Plane, a Simulator: In late March, the network tried like hell to rent a real Boeing-777 to supplement its coverage. It failed and settled for a flight simulator in Canada that it’s desperately hoarding to keep other networks away.
The Toy: CNN’s attempt to produce an actual Boeing seems a lot less ridiculous when you see how silly Don Lemon looks playing with a toy plane at his desk.
The Countdown Clock: At one point, CNN presented this countdown clock showing that only 17 days remained until the plane’s black-box battery died, making its recovery nearly impossible. Ignoring the New Year’s-ification of a human tragedy, it was impossible to know the precise time at which the battery would die. The clock was nonsense.
“Zombie Plane”: Zombie plane? Zombie plane! Quick, someone call Rick Grimes.
Trash Talk: In his second bit bashing CNN for blathering about Flight 370, Jon Stewart gathered together a dozen or so examples of talking heads speculating about stuff floating in the ocean. It was almost always trash, which of course, led to a CNN obsession with sea trash.
“Breaking”: Thirty one days into the mystery and CNN reports on this bit of “breaking news”: “Families Frustrated by Media Coverage.”
A Confession: The final embarrassing CNN incident didn’t happen on air. In a March 17 New York Times article about the networks’ coverage of the flight, an executive anonymously “acknowledged this was not really a story where reporters have been able to advance the known facts much.” But, as of this writing, CNN is still going.
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