CNN + Punk = Disappointing as Ever

by Joshua B. Hoe  Is there anything about CNN that exceeds expectations?

I should have known they would disapoint me again with their coverage of punk in the 1970’s

I should have known…..arghhhh

CNN Journalisms Clueless Punching Bag

Tony Bordain had two of his best episodes ever after moving to CNN which is saying something (Libya, Japan..and Iran was decent too).

Okay, aside from Tony there anything about CNN that exceeds expectations?

Okay, well I do like GPS….Hmmm aside from GPS and Tony Bordain...etc.

My favorite current CNN trope is how they continually decry Trump coverage at the same time they won’t stop covering him on almost a 24 hour loop. Sometimes they will literally mention that covering Trump is crowding out important issues then cut right to yet another fluffy Trump story.

Apparently, as long as you have three talking heads who claim to be experts for every five minute doesn’t really matter what you cover.

Worst all time CNN? Hard to pick..but I would say:

  • The Boston Bombing coverage where they were so desperate to call things “Breaking News” that they would have the BREAKING NEWS lead and then cut to a reporter talking about how police cars had just gone around the corner near them “with sirens on.”
  • Maybe it as the 24 hour coverage of the Malaysian airliner...To normal people, it would seem, after they addressed the politics and alerted the families that there could only be one possible story - Plane found. Yet, somehow, this turned into a two week wall-to-wall coverage of nothing. They actually kept every other story off the air for weeks to cover people combing the ocean for remains.
  • At the end of the day It probably was the coverage of the poor girls who were kept prisoner in Ohio for years...As the girls tried to leave their houses through back entrances to avoid coverage...there was CNN...because God knows the public has a right to see traumatized and abused people walk from the back of a house to a car.

Lets just say I mostly hate CNN.

But, I was excited when I saw them tease a new episode in their series about the 70s….They showed the Sex Pistols in the ad, and kind of made it seem like their music episode would spend real time on Punk….

Stupid me, I let them fool me again.

Punk in the 70’s According to CNN

So excited….the story of punk, documentary style...I mean its been a long time since The Decline of Western Civilization Part One….Maybe they will add some cool new footage of something.

So, I tune in….I see the 15 minutes on Classic Rock...The end of the Beatles the rise of the supergroup etc.


Okay, another 15 minutes on Classic Rock...I feel like I am watching ‘Almost Famous’ again. The Troubadour…”I Hate the Fucking Eagles...Man”


A decent 15 to 20 minutes on soul, disco, r&b, and funk...Can’t really argue too much with this...Decent interviews, was a pretty important period musically in these genres. Stevie Wonder was amazing in the 1970’s.

Hold on...the ad was all about punk and we only have minutes left...where is the punk?


Fade in

“Punk started in 1969 in Detroit” cut to footage of MC5 and Iggy and the Stooges...Fine, true, decent start.

Then they jump, in like three seconds, to The Ramones...okay, fair. Maybe a few seconds of New York Dolls before that.

They say something quick about Richard Hell...also fair, he was kind of the face of punk in many ways until London happened.

Then they jump to London, they show kids on King’s Row...they show some of the fashion of London punk (and tie it to Hell)...Then they show The Clash and talk about how they were musically superior to most of the other punk acts (mostly true).

Then they talk about other kinds of artists coming up through the underground at the same time..They cut to a young Debby Harry and Blondie...Then Talking Heads...and they quote David Byrne talking about how it should just all be called New Wave….The end.

1970’s punk reduced to MC5, Iggy and the Stooges, The Ramones, New York Dolls, Richard Hell, and The Clash...and maybe five seconds on each of those.

Thanks for the insight CNN. I am surprised you didn’t have that crazy annoying English dude who did all the plane coverage do the announcing.(just because).

I mean I do love Talking was a nice touch to have them close the show….but still, that is pretty short shrift.

Wouldn’t it have at least made sense to consult Bordain (who is actually an afficianado of NYC era punk) and have him do that segment?

Maybe I am being unfair, the 70’s was a crazy decade for music...power packed in many genres...I am not sure how you cover it in an hour. But, you could do three hours just on punk and probably not cover it well.

What Should CNN Be?

I am just saying, the exciting things that happened in 70’s music to me were punk and funk (and the very beginning of hip hop)...There were also some incredible albums put out in more conventional genres for sure. Hell, I might mostly hate disco but you could easily do hours just on 70’s disco (and to be fair, some great musicians and producers were working in disco).

Maybe my complaint is more that these specials should educate and inform, which they cannot do in a compressed format. CNN (and the other networks who do these decade series) are sending vines when they should be filling in the blanks long form.

CNN has become a festival of idiots competing constantly to win their 15 seconds of fame.

A constant barrage of soundbites and graphics signifying nothing…

Has anyone ever gotten one bit of valuable insight from any of CNN’s neverending stream of three person “expert panels?” I sure haven’t

I know they feel under attack from other formats (like social) but the way to succeed is to use your format in ways social cannot compete with. Yes, attention spans can be short, but they are short when the information you give is boring or easily ignored.

Blackfish (the independent documentary on Killer Whales in captivity) did huge numbers on CNN and it was long-form old school documentary journalism. That is what CNN has the space and time to do that social cannot compete with.

So for instance, with the Iran nuclear deal, why not spend a thirty minute segment talking with one real subject expert on Iran...and presenting the real dillenma (that our alllies will not support the continuation of sanctions - the reason we did not have negotiating leverage is because Iran knew our allies want to do business with Iran - not because our leaders are weak)

Or hell, why not just use some in-house resources (like Bourdain) and actually educate some people with your punk segment.

Right now CNN is even worse than USA Today, they serve up news soundbytes and expert segments devoid of experts or so time compressed nothing meaningful can happen.

On the rare occasions they have a long interview, it is conducted in softball fashion or is led by someone incapable of asking tough questions.

There is nothing I get from CNN in its current form that I don’t get from a news-ticker...That's a problem.

Maybe I am just pissed because I wanted them to use their vast resources to uncover some footage that was new and exciting. Or to tell a story I didn’t already know.

I wanted to be surprised, maybe informed, but not whatever that was.

Do you hate CNN too? Or wish they had done a better job on the documentary? Maybe you disagree and felt the coverage was appropriate..We would love to hear your opinion, add a comment!