My Grade for CNN: F for Foolish – and “Facety”

If you have ever lived in Jamaica you know what “facety” means. It is probably derived from the old English word “feisty,” but its meaning has evolved into something much sharper, much more of a put-down. I would translate it as “too big for your britches” if I had to explain it to an American.

I think the word is appropriate in summing up the pointless exercise that CNN undertook last night under the pretense of grading the U.S. President, Congress and the press on their performance during the “second 100 days” of the Obama Administration. In tackling the assignment CNN revealed more about itself than about the country’s government. And what it showed included the preposterous assumption that their bumbling “talking heads” were equipped to judge the performance of a President that history will surely acknowledge as one of America’s greatest. In my book, that’s “facety”!

facebookAnd foolish. By inviting “viewers” to vote on the web and by phone, the television network opened its doors to the flacks who make a living denigrating President Obama. These wretches ply their ugly trade – in part – by “commenting” on web sites, phoning talk radio stations and generally creating a “grassroots” movement in opposition to the administration’s agenda.

The latest manifestation of this crusade, funded by lobbyists and right-wing organizations, is the disruption of town hall meetings being held to explain proposals for health care reform. “Protesters” are bused in to the meetings with instructions to shout down the speakers and prevent any debate from taking place. The intent is to create an impression of public “outrage.”

This kind of tactic is not new. Back in my childhood, Jamaican politicians used to hire “demonstrators” to hold up signs and get their picture on the front page of the Gleaner. Readers were left to assume that “public opinion” was opposed to this or that.

In the CNN charade, Obama’s “grades” were predictable. Progressives on the CNN panel gave him A’s. Conservatives gave him D’s. Was anyone surprised? As for the “popular” vote, with the inevitable padding from paid flacks, that was loaded with “F’s.” A lot of voters who have been paying attention (and who aren’t being paid by PR companies to tell lies on the web) gave the President A’s, but obviously they were not as numerous as the army of paid flacks because CNN came up with an “average” rating of C-. (The President did slightly better among Facebook voters; see illustration above.)

That’s right: According to CNN, the American public thinks Obama is an abject failure.

Of course that’s nonsense. A scientific CNN/Opinion Research poll released a couple of days earlier found that 51 percent of those questioned feel that the Obama presidency has been a success so far, with 37 percent suggesting it has been a failure. (That’s the 37 percent of Americans who are diehard “conservatives,” who still think George W. Bush was a great President, who want “their America” back, and who advocate bombing abortion clinics.)

I am left wondering why anyone watches CNN these days. The network has become a mindless conduit for corporate propaganda, probably dictated by the “suits” at its parent company, AOL Time Warner. CNN looks increasingly like Fox in Wolf’s clothing.

Longtime CNN political analyst Bill Schneider has joined Third Way, a think tank that vehemently opposes health care reform, yet plans to keep his job at CNN. And the network’s CEO even defended Lou Dobbs’ support for the specious “birther” movement (which claims against all evidence that Obama was born in Kenya).

I can only assume that the competition for advertising is so intense in these challenging economic times that CNN is willing to stoop to anything to prop up its bottom line.

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com

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