State of the Union: Imagine CNN for an Hour without Russia
Friday, February 02, 2018
The address illustrated the media’s collusion-narrative obsession. For an hour and 20 minutes on Tuesday evening, the world stood still for CNN and MSNBC.
Despite setting a record for length during the televised era, President Trump gave a fairly normal version of the State of the Union ritual, with the usual catalogue of accomplishments claimed and wish list of legislative action he wants taken. His use of the tired cliché of ordinary Americans doing extraordinary things was lengthy, but also not as tedious as it might have been in the hands of a president with less showmanship.
But for the 24/7 cable-news networks that are not named Fox News, the wait for it to end was agony. While the president spoke, in a rarity in prime time since the inauguration, CNN and MSNBC were not able to air a single second during which hosts or other talking heads could speculate about the Russia investigation, charges of collusion, or the possibility of impeaching Trump. The frustration of some on-air personalities after the speech ended was palpable. But their astonishment that Trump had gone 80 minutes without discussing the only things they’ve been talking about for a year made two things clear.
First, the contrast between Trump’s discussion of the economy and other real-world issues and the quagmire that is the Russia investigation showed how the latter has completely obscured the former in mainstream-media coverage in the last year.Anyone who’s watched much network news, especially CNN and MSNBC, in the last year understands that (barring natural disasters or mass shootings) there is very little that can divert them from their laser-like focus on the Russia investigation.
Each daily development that is even tangentially related to the Mueller probe, or to the House Republican investigation of possible abuse of the FISA court to spy on the Trump campaign, is treated as the top news of the day, almost no matter what else is going on. Their task of keeping the country obsessed with the issue is made easier by the president. His tweets and statements firing back at his foes only add to the feeding frenzy.