In the age of twenty-four hour news coverage, the pursuit of impressive ratings has blurred the line between reporting and entertainment. Where, then, can we find unfiltered news? Are we listening to truth or bias? Are political analysts reporting or twisting the news? Are they, in fact, journalists? Is Sean Hannity of Fox network, for example, a journalist? Is CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time series a news broadcast?
The answer is no.
Television hosts, like Sean Hannity, are political commentators expounding on a timely topic and filling airtime with like-minded “experts”. Such commentary is not journalism. By the same token, in his CNN Prime Time chair, Chris Cuomo is a political analyst rather than a straight news reporter. Ditto Tucker Carlson and Anderson Cooper. While Cuomo, Carlson and Cooper have a solid background in journalism (Hannity does not), as anchors of their nightly broadcasts, barring the occasional “breaking news”, they react to, rather than report, the day’s events. Such political commentary is entertainment rather than fact.
While facts are not subjective, political commentary panders to a particular demographic and can be molded and shaped to express a particular agenda. For example, it is a verifiable fact that there have been 160,000 Covid-19 deaths in the United States, but any political commentator that states President Trump’s alleged lack of timely response to the pandemic is to blame for these deaths is expressing a personal opinion. Facts are undeniable; personal commentary can be discarded.
A plethora of news broadcasts, facts and “alternative facts”, statistics, and political pundits talking round-the-clock has so muddied the journalistic waters that many citizens can no longer discern fact from opinion or straight reporting from op-ed. Misinformation is rampant. As we make our way through our convoluted world, let’s be mindful of the difference between fact and opinion, reporters and entertainers, op-ed columnists and journalists. Misconstruing political commentary only leads to “fake news” and anger, and we’ve got quite enough of all that already.