In an appearance on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” with Brian Stelter on Sunday morning, the Erik Wemple Blog broke down the oft-criticized wall-to-wall attention that CNN has given to missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Though we hammered the “idiocy” of Don Lemon’s famous discussion of whether the disappearance of the flight stemmed from “supernatural” circumstances, we endorsed the network’s ultra-heavy emphasis on the story.
The argument is twofold: 1) CNN brands itself as a centrist alternative to the ideologically tilted programming of its chief cable-news rivals, Fox News (rightward) and MSNBC (leftward). If nothing else, a pure aviation mystery is a nonideological news story suited to CNN’s mission; 2) With “44 editorial operations around the world and around 4,000 employees worldwide,” CNN lives for geographically sprawling stories like MH370. News is coming from Malaysia, China, the United States, Australia and elsewhere. If you’ve built the infrastructure for such a story, you have to use it, and use it intensively. “It has to do this,” we said on air, referring to CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker. “If it doesn’t do this, [CNN’s] leadership should be fired.”
Reactions to the appearance were, uh, mixed:
— Brian Arner (@barner) March 23, 2014