Yesterday morning, CNN announced that Mike Pence was trying to blackmail the network into airing Trump’s press briefings in full, by refusing to allow anyone from the coronavirus response team to appear on CNN. When yesterday’s Trump press conference began, CNN stuck to its recent approach of refusing to air Trump’s opening speech, and only tuning in later for the experts and the reporter questions.
CNN received praise for this from all sides, including me. But when Trump’s briefing began today, CNN promptly put it on the air, right from the start. It’s now clear that CNN did cave to Mike Pence, but decided to wait a day before caving, in the hope that no one would notice it was caving.
This is disturbing, but not unexpected. Cable news networks are multimillion dollar for-profit businesses that literally exist to turn a profit, not to inform you. They’ll always do whatever they think is going to deliver them the highest ratings.
CNN must have concluded that it was going to get more overall viewers by airing the briefings and having access to the response team members, than by not having any of it on the air. This is a reminder that the only person who can change a cable news network’s behavior is you – by refusing to watch the segments that shouldn’t be on the air, and by contacting the networks to let them know which kinds of content you’re refusing to watch.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report