Wednesday, May 7, 2008

New Reality Show: In the Land of the CNN Gnomes

Episode: Democratic Primary Watch

In a bright, glitzy TV studio, one cheery, prematurely gray gnome (Anderson Cooper) banters with another (John King), who is stuck in spell-weaving mode with both forefingers extended and arms waving as he compulsively operates the multi-touch screens. Says Gnome Anderson, “Your knowledge of obscure electoral districts is remarkable. You’re like the 'Rain Man' of elections.” Gnome John giggles.

A few minutes later, they are joined by the Gnome King, Larry, with High Gnome Chancellor Wolf Blitzer hovering in the background, waiting for his moment in the spotlight. This comes amidst Gnome John’s speculation about why Lake County is turning in its results sooo slowly, hours after the Indiana polls closed. On-screen guest commentator, a Clinton-supporting, white, Lake County mayor, eagerly encourages this hinting at possible vote tampering. He turned in his district’s results hours ago and can’t imagine what’s taking his fellow Lake County mayors so long. Gnome Wolf asks another Lake County mayor, whom we don’t see but who sounds like he could be African American, to explain. But Wolf is not satisfied with the answer he gets (Because there was an unprecedented number of absentee ballots - 11,000 - to be counted). Wolf asks for an explanation again, and then again, each time more officiously (“You still haven’t answered the question.”) Voice of mayor patiently gives the same answer, again and then again (“I have given you the answer, but I will give it to you again.")

CNN’s coverage of the Tuesday’s Democratic primaries, in a shiny high-tech studio with a cast of shiny, white, short men saying nothing of substance, was like a drug-induced hallucination. Remember Twin Peaks? It was riveting in its way, but dispiriting, because this is what constitutes serious news coverage these days.

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