Cable Conspiracy Theory Network

Long ago in the dark ages of last fall, I wrote an article about how the major news networks covered the situation in Syria, and it devolved into a rant pretty quickly. I thought that would be enough. But apparently, it’s not.

So let’s talk about Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, shall we?

Before I begin, know that I mean no disrespect to anyone who was aboard this plane when whatever happened to it happened to it. I, like any sensible slug, am deeply saddened by the losses of the many lives on board the plane, and I wish for a speedy recovery of the plane so that the families can rest knowing how their loved ones passed. For them, I am incredibly sorry.

But let’s put those condolences into perspective. Major news networks (especially CNN) have carelessly thrown all of that into disregard to madly speculate what happened. There have been claims of terrorism, black holes and even the Bermuda Triangle being involved. Somehow.

First off, as an experienced alien slug, let me tell you about black holes for a sec.

For the armada, we have a black hole cannon that we only use in a last resort. You shoot it at a planet or star, and then there’s no more planet or star. Even the tiniest black hole would completely annihilate the entire Earth. Assuming it was a black hole is inanely stupid beyond belief.

You were probably thinking of wormholes. Wormholes transfer objects (often prisoners, in our case) to other far-flung parts of space. Even then, though, that’s still pretty inane.

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And terrorism? The Bermuda Triangle? You may as well blame the Illuminati or suggest that the plane is in Area 51.

Long story short, CNN and the others botched the story. On CNN, coverage of the flight has consumed three weeks full of news that went unreported. So let’s look at BBC and see what other things happened in the world aside from the flight.

Hm … ooo, here! “The Colbert Report” almost got canceled over a racist tweet. That’s pretty juicy.

Oh, here. There was another shooting at Fort Hood. Viewers probably want to know more about that.

Turkey lifted the country’s ban on Twitter. That could lead to a lot of discussion about Internet censorship and suppression of free speech, especially in countries like China or Syria where dissent is still suppressed.

You could have spent all of those weeks discussing topics related to those. But no. You needed to discuss the missing flight. You needed to talk about how a black hole supposedly sucked the plane into oblivion somehow without bringing the entire planet with it. I’m sorry, I still can’t get over that inaccuracy! Black holes are dangerous, man!

After a while of thinking, George surmised that this was a problem with the format and not the network itself. If there’s a news program rolling 24 hours a day, that means that you have to find news to report, and that’s not always easy.

But I have a couple problems with that argument. First of all, the format’s not going away, it’s making too much money. Second of all, as we’ve seen, there’s been plenty of stories in that flight period, and while they touched on them, they immediately went back to speculation.

He has a point, though. The format of 24/7 news programming is pretty inherently flawed. This is a constructive column, however, and there has to be a solution that will alleviate this somewhat.

In my last news-bashing article, I suggested that networks admit up-front that news is still coming in and that they know nothing. I think that much is obvious in this situation, though. So how else can we fix this?

Well, as we mentioned, there’s plenty of news, and I don’t know of anyone who actually watches these networks 24/7 — except insomniacs or the writers for “The Daily Show”. Why not use that speculation time to instead report the news again for those who are just joining in? I know they do that already to an extent, but think of how many viewers would like to see some actual news instead of mad conspiracy theories, even if it is on repeat.

And before you mention that CNN and others have websites, speculation pieces clog those sites just about as much as they do the TV, so this suggestion works both online and on the air.

Alright, rant over. I’ll see if I can write about something a little more lighthearted next time. Until then…