After spending almost 24 hours glued to the tube watching one the of most heart warming and tear jerking stories in ages, last night as the last miner was being pulled from his tomb nearly half a mile underground, where he had been trapped for a record 70 days, I watched in astonishment as all three of our cable news networks blew the golden ratings goose that had been handed them on a silver platter.
I have worked with television a long time and have a pretty good idea what qualifies as quality news coverage. What I saw was a pathetic joke. I mean the entire world was watching the events unfold and come to a climax. Don't you think the cable networks would have had their best news anchors and reporters handling this historic moment?
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, center with tie and no sunglasses, poses Thursday with the 33 rescued miners at the hospital in Copiapo where they are undergoing medical exams.
First let us look at CNN where they blew it beyond belief. Here is the self-proclaimed most popular cable news network who has brought us incredible coverage of major news events over the years from Viet Nam to Afghanistan. Yet they scheduled a Senate debate in Delaware instead. To add insult to injury, just when the debate was beginning to get intriguing they cut off the debate broadcast and pick up the mine rescue.
For some really odd reason this network with some exceptioal reporters like Anderson Cooper and others had new political anchors Eliot Spitzer and his co-host Kathleen Parker, both who are new to television and oblivious to news coverage, handle the conclusion of this historic moment and they made a shambles of it.
CNN had no English translation of the Chilean ceremony marking the successful conclusion so rather than let the audience watch and listen the two talked over the ceremony with senseless and classless blabber that had nothing to do with the history being made. No mention of incredible human interest stories about the miners. No mention of all the American contractors who were unsung heroes in the rescue. No mention of the exceptional job by the President and Mining Director of Chile who took over full responsibility for the rescue and directed every step of it.
No mention that this was the second major disaster in Chile this year, with the massive earthquake just last spring, that had been successfully handled by the nation. No mention of the contrast with American disasters like the BP Spill where our president barely had time for soundbites, let alone leading the disaster rescue efforts.
The crackpot CNN team told senseless jokes during the solemn activites making light of the moment and assuring I will never again watch CNN during a disaster. The sad part was CNN had by far the best coverage until they turned it over to the ill-informed political pundits rather than legitimate reporters.
So I flipped to MSNBC who was committing the same mistakes when they had access to the entire NBC news team. It was a joke as well. Finally I went to Fox News and there was Sean Hannity, yet another political hack, anchoring the final coverage. At least Fox had a Spanish interpreter giving a translation yet it was only a matter of time before Hannity, used to hearing only his own voice as the voice of authority on TV, could not resist interrupting the broadcast and translation for more trivia.
It was a sad commentary on our cable news media when none allowed the events unfolding to dictate the coverage and when they did talk, it had nothing to do with the amazing stories surrounding the miners, the government of Chile and it's leaders, or the American heroes who played a key role in the historic rescue of the miners.
What a shame the only news on cable is 15 second sound bites and senseless babble. America used to be better than that.