Cable news isn’t news

By Joe Rector

I’ve always liked the news on television. My generation was lucky enough to have anchors such as Huntley and Brinkley, Frank Reynolds, and the GOAT, Walter Cronkite. Back then, we had a half-hour local news report, and then the national news came on. By 7:00 p.m., it was all over, and stations aired Cas Walker or Bonnie Lou and Buster.

With the creation of cable, I had other choices. These so-called news stations had a different programming idea. They presented the news 24 hours a day. Actually, they didn’t come close to giving audiences any such coverage. Instead, each new anchor covered the same stories in the same order. That took maybe fifteen minutes. The rest of the programs were discussions with individuals who were “experts” or who were eyewitnesses to incidents being reported.

I’ve watched long news coverage over the years. The first one was the assassination of President Kennedy. Burned into my memory is the sight of John Jr. stepping up to salute the flagged-draped coffin, the clopping of horses’ hooves as they pulled the wagon holding the president, and the utter silence of the throngs that lined the streets that led to the grave site.

I watched all of the Watergate hearings. Sam Ervin, Howard Baker and Fred Thompson worked tirelessly and unbiasedly to reach the truth of the whole affair. Their duty to country over party led to the resignation of a president and jail sentences for some administration members.

At school, my classes and I watched in horror as the towers in New York were rocked by the planes that crashed into them, and then tears flowed as we watched those buildings fall and take the lives of thousands of Americans. That coverage brought out the fear, rage and patriotism of this nation’s citizens.

I even watched the O.J. trial. Hearing that a football legend had been accused of killing his former wife and the man with her shocked everyone. I never knew how I felt about the entire thing, but the line, “if they (the gloves) do not fit, you must acquit” led to a not guilty verdict.

For the last eight years, cable stations have spent the majority of their airtime discussing politics. Some of the programs have been excellent; they’ve given unbiased reports covering the who, what, when, where and why. However, on too many occasions, the news of the day was thin, so “the talking heads” came in and bored reporters and viewers as well. During that same time, Covid knocked us flat. We were trapped at home, so some of us binge-watched cable news only to hear the same thing with each new show. The constant repetition of the same old news drove us half crazy.

Now the stations have introduced a new type of programming. The reporting of the same things still occurs. However, someone decided that the news would be more exciting if the teams of anchors stood. Now, we watch those folks walk around as if they’re lost. I’m sure they feel foolish doing so, and before long, stations might go back to one anchor sitting at a desk and reporting the news. Yes, they might still report the same thing every hour and have lines of guests to tell us what we just heard or saw. At least we who watch them will be able to keep up with things.

I am giving serious consideration to leaving all cable news. Life will be much calmer without endless hours of so-called news. Of course, now isn’t such a good time to wean myself off the news since the election is this year, as well as several trials. I’ll have to make the decision when the time comes. Things shouldn’t be nearly as boring as they have been.