Why is CNN is a ratings free fall? There are probably many, many answers to this question. For instance, maybe it’s not the best idea to continue to broadcast 24/7 coverage of the missing Malaysian Airlines plane two months after the story first broke. Another possibility? The unbelievable level of manufactured outrage on the network, which really came to a head on Thursday when CNN’s Don Lemon tried to start a shouting match with TheBlaze’s Will Cain.
During a conversation about Monica Lewinsky’s new essay for Vanity Fair on CNN’s Legal View with Ashleigh Banfield, Cain questioned the “cheap outrage” and “hashtag activism” often found on television. Lemon interpreted Cain’s comments to be a criticism of First Lady Michelle Obama, who had tweeted a photo of herself on Thursday with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.
Watch the tense exchange below:
“We are cheap as a society… this is consistent,” Cain said. “We do cheap outrage on TV. We do cheap ‘hashtag activism’ when it comes to the girls with Boko Haram, and this is cheap. [Monica Lewinsky] has been a cheap punchline for too long.”
“That’s disgusting to say about over 200 girls who were — what do you expect the first lady to do?” Lemon demanded.
“I said society has gotten cheap,” Cain repeated. “We do cheap outrage on television. We do cheap hashtag activism on Twitter… I didn’t say anything about the first lady, you did.”
On radio this morning, Glenn found himself agreeing with Cain’s assertion that social media has allowed the masses to feign outrage and claim activism by simply sending a tweet with a particular hashtag or posting a picture.
“What [Will] is saying is you haven’t really done your duty if you just hashtag tweet,” Glenn said. “That’s not going to rescue a single person.”
As Glenn explained, his audience has risen to the occasion time and time again to come to the aid of those most in need. Through their support of Operation Underground Railroad, Glenn explained his listeners have really affected change in the child sex trafficking trade.
“We talk about child sex slavery on this program. This audience has raised now, I think, $1.5 million, maybe a little bit more, to rescue children who are actually in this situation,” Glenn said. “Now, there’s an audience that’s actually doing something. We’re not just hashtagging. There’s nothing wrong with hashtagging. But if that’s your deal, if you’re like, ‘Yeah, I’m involved in saving children. I hashtagged.’ No, you’re involved in the social media. That’s what [Will’s] saying.”
Ultimately, Glenn believes the shouting match just reiterates why CNN faces such ratings’ woes.
“CNN, you know why you have ratings problems? Listen to this. Who wants to even tune in to this,” Glenn asked. “You know the first thing that Will said was ‘manufactured outrage on television.’ That’s what this is!”
“There’s no human being that’s trying to figure it out could react the way Don Lemon reacts here,” Stu added. “It’s only him intentionally not trying to understand.”