Dear CNN: The Medium is No Longer the Message

I didn’t see Obama’s landmark speech today, but I read the transcript. I admit I was moved by it, and although there was certainly a practical or tactical element to it – in the context of his presidential chances – I think it’s important to look past that and consider his actual words.

I wish CNN agreed. Unfortunately, the whole focus of their coverage was to discuss whether the speech would work, and by “work” they meant only whether it would put to rest questions around Obama’s association with pastor Jeremiah Wright. They used Rush Limbaugh’s response of all things, to raise doubts, as if Limbaugh’s response wasn’t determined before the speech was even made, as if Limbaugh at this point is anything more than a washed up, irrelevant joke on the outer fringes of the media, preaching to an ever-smaller choir.

They didn’t talk about whether the speech would “work” in the sense of whether it will remind us that individuals are complex, that the issue of race is complex, that none of this is black and white – in any sense of the phrase. They didn’t talk about whether the speech would “work” in the sense of whether it will help us shift our attention to more concrete and ultimately solvable issues like the economy, healthcare and the environment – where people of all races share the same concerns.

It’s bullshit cynical coverage CNN, and you will lose more and more of your young audience as long as you pollute the airwaves with this kind of crap. No amount of fancy touchscreen infographics and talk of “liveblogging” will change that fact.

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