Mitch Perry Report 3.18.14: Cable news & Flight 370 — lots of speculation, little news


NBC News aviation reporter Bob Hagar
  • NBC News aviation reporter Bob Hagar
I was going to begin by saying I'm as curious as the next guy or gal about the massive search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, but I'm not sure that's the case. Over the weekend I spoke with a couple of friends who say they're obsessed with understanding what happened to the vanished Boeing 777 jet that has become the dominant global story for 10 days running now, virtually unheard of these days with so many media outlets.

And leading the way in telling this story is cable news, which has unlimited time and space to parcel out whatever few morsels of new information there have been on a day-by-day basis. And there have been very few. Of course, the folks over at CNN are loving it, because Americans in particular have been trained over three decades to tune into the first American cable news network for breaking news, because it does have more reporters overseas than anyone else, and CNN attempts to present more news than opinion than its two main competitors, Fox and MSNBC.

But those latter two cable networks aren't skimping on their coverage, either, which should have a Chyron at the bottom of the screen indicating, "We're not really sure if these people are qualified to talk about this."
My favorite was yesterday on NBC/MSNBC when they brought back veteran aviation reporter Bob Hager to analyze the crisis. Whatever program he was on on Monday, after giving out all the analysis that he could muster, the host asked him: What did he think happened to the vanishing plane? Like everyone else, he said either he didn't know or it was "pure speculation."

Pure speculation is what we're used to hearing on cable news. How many hours have been wasted already contemplating whether Chris Christie or Jeb Bush or Rand Paul will be the GOP nominee in 2016 already? What will Hillary do? It's what fuels these networks.

"It is a tremendous story that is completely in our wheelhouse,” an anonymous CNN producer told the New York Times today. '“It’s an incredible mystery full of human drama, with an international element."

However, the  next paragraph written by Bill Carter says this:
But the executive acknowledged this was not really a story where reporters have been able to advance the known facts much. Instead, it has been fueled by a lot of expert analysis based on the little verifiable information that has been available, speculation about what might have happened to the plane and where it might be now, accompanied by all the visual pizazz the network can bring to bear.


In real news, yesterday the Pinellas County Sheriff, Bob Gaultieri, announced he was refining the county's controversial police car chase policy, following in the steps of St. Petersburg.

It's been a year since the most-hyped GOP "autopsy report" was released, and when it comes to immigration, the GOP's actions haven't followed the script published by Reince Priebus last year.

And in Tampa's Seminole Heights, the neighborhood is very excited to get back their library — at three times the size of its previous incarnation.

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