To a Showman, All News is Good News

News channels, you have lost me.  I am keen to keep up with the news and I subscribe to several different online news sources. I have also been supplementing my reading with some television news. You would think I would love news channels, but they’ve become a one-trick pony.

In the past, I found that the main network news shows frustrated me because they didn’t spend enough time on any serious subject, they were relentlessly enthusiastic as local cheerleaders, and they always tried to end their shows on a chirpy, upbeat story. That format became so frequent that I could no longer watch the beautiful people congratulating themselves and cooing over puppies and babies. I stopped watching those shows a long time ago.

The Barnum Bailey Greatest Show on Earth via Wikimedia Commons

I thought that cable news channels might be more satisfying, but I was wrong. They have a lot more time to cover more stories, from more places, in more depth, but are they doing that? No. Every time I turn on one of those channels they are talking about Trump. No other leaders are discussed in depth, no other countries’ politics are given serious consideration, and no other issues are covered even when significant events are happening in the United States.  Today, for instance, there are dreadful fires happening in California, but they get only a cursory glance as a short segment on general news coverage that lasts about five minutes on the hour.

Although I agree that we must pay attention to the current presidency, and I am impressed that the cable news journalists and guests are able to talk endlessly on this one subject, I don’t agree that it deserves to take up so much air time. If this kind of attention to a single subject were limited to one or two cable news shows, it might not matter so much. But, it is all of them.  No matter which time of day I turn on the tv, those news channels seem to be talking about Trump. As a news topic, he simply drowns out all other news, and that does us all a disservice.

Barnum & Bailey Circus
Barnum & Bailey Children’s Circus with Cats, via Flickr

Not only that, but I don’t know if these broadcasters realize that to a showman, all news is good news.  Someone (possibly P.T. Barnum) once said that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Just by repeating the president’s name and putting up his picture, newscasters are giving oxygen to his fire. That’s how advertising works. It doesn’t have to be a good advert; it just has to show the product. It doesn’t matter how eloquently and effectively the TV hosts and experts argue against his ideas and policies, they are giving them more airtime than they give to other concepts and philosophies.

I wonder what would happen if they just refused to cover the things Trump says or does. What if they gave national and international news fifty-five minutes out of every hour and gave the president only five? No matter how provocative his Tweets may be, journalists should just think of them as poisoned bait. He wants them to give him airtime, and that’s how he lures them in.

I know cable news television is making lots of money from all this, but until they realize they’ve been conned, I’m going to stop watching them. The online press gives me much more varied coverage.




  1. I am with you on this. I am appalled at how much coverage he and his spokespeople get on television, and don’t get me started on Canadian news programs airing his press conferences live as they are happening. He’s a showman and loves the attention. It’s time for cable news to give him less airtime.

  2. If you believe in the *conspiracy theory* maybe its all a distraction and everyone is in on it . I am referring to the movie with Mel Gibson I always did like that movie the best. For me I have no idea what to believe anymore. I mostly just shake my head.

  3. I live close to Topeka, KS, where the infamous Fred Phelps resided. The local media figured out decades ago to quit covering his protests. They understood by covering their protests, they were feeding into exactly what he wanted: publicity. I think you are spot on that even negative coverage is sought after from this current POTUS. I agree they should quit reporting his verbiage as news. I stopped listening and/or watching the news years ago. It still creeps in all around me because I still use social media. I have made gestures at limiting that exposure, but certainly, haven’t eliminated it.

    • That’s a great example, Lorna. Publicity-seekers deserve to be ignored, no matter what their cause, if their primary goal is self-aggrandizement. And, when it’s pretty much the same message over and over again, by definition it is not news.

      I, too, have reduced my social media use but I’m still addicted to my online news feed.

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