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Look Who's Sloganeering Now

Just when sloganeering has so sullied the political discourse that even politicians are beginning to resist it, CNN has decided to embrace it.
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There were times when I liked CNN's Aaron Brown. The first time I remember beginning to distrust him was when he ended Newsnight with a pat on his own back. "Good show," he said. Hey wait, I thought - why does he get to decide whether his show is good?

Now, Brown is out but the self-pat is in. In fact, it is written right into the CNN script. Whoever is reporting on politics for CNN will be described as part of "the best political team on television." When security is the issue, then viewers will be reminded to "stay tuned to CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security."

So, just when sloganeering has so sullied the political discourse that even politicians are beginning to resist it, CNN has decided to embrace it. The network seems to want us to believe that they have the best political team and the most reliable news about security because they said so (again and again).

Maybe I should regard this sloganeering in the newsroom as innocuous. Perhaps the greatest threat is that it can come back to mock the organizations that practice it. (Need I mention "fair and balanced"?)

I'm not so sure. Sloganeering is a mental short cut, designed to bypass deep thinking. It is a test that tells you the answer before you even get to read the question. Isn't that exactly the opposite of what journalism is supposed to be about?

When I hear political players leaning on pre-fabricated talking points, I want reporters to rebel, and insist that the interviewees stand up straight and articulate a few thoughts of their own. Instead, some in the media seem to be joining in on the fun. Why do the hard work of earning the title of the best political team on television when you can simply crown yourself the winner?

I'm concerned, too, because media sloganeering is, arguably, just the latest in a long line of reportorial short-cuts. Possible predecessors include: Deciding who should get the most favorable coverage based on who gives good campaign-trail banter. Or who would be more fun to kick back with and quaff a few cold ones. Or who is surrounded by the cutest kids or the most attentive spouse (or any spouse).

These are serious times. The issues facing the nation and the world are profound. It is time to ask hard questions and demand thoughtful and informed answers. And to acknowledge that nuance is not a four-letter word.

(P.S. I forgot to include this in the bio I posted, but I do want you to know it: I'm the best writer in the world.)

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