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March 20, 2014 1:27 PM Plane Hype

By Ed Kilgore

Since we’re talking about teevee “news coverage” today, it’s worth noting for the record that embattled CNN is following the Malaysian airliner mystery as though it were The Rapture. And it’s paying off big-time, says the New York Times’ Bill Carter:

The story of the vanished Boeing 777 jet has been exhaustively covered across every form of news media, with television generally leading the way. Each of the broadcast networks began its evening newscast with stories on the plane every night last week, a consensus that happens “once a year at most,” according to Andrew Tyndall, who publishes a weekly report monitoring newscasts.
But it is CNN, the cable network that has been scrambling to find a sustainable business model against its main competitors, Fox News and MSNBC, that has perhaps invested most heavily in the mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
“It is a tremendous story that is completely in our wheelhouse,” said a senior CNN executive, who asked not to be identified defining the network’s strategy for its coverage. CNN’s ratings soared last week and over the weekend, rising by almost 100 percent in prime time. The network even managed the rare feat of edging past Fox News for leadership in several hours.

So I guess you can understand why CNN doesn’t want to let the story turn conventional, much less boring. But some shark-jumping is clearly going on, notes TPM’s Nick Martin:

OK, seriously, so what gives with CNN anchor Don Lemon? His coverage of the missing Malaysian jet this week would be comical if it wasn’t about such a tragic event.
It’s looking more likely this morning that the plane crashed in the ocean when it disappeared almost two weeks ago. Yet Lemon has spent the last several days exploring every crazy conspiracy theory on the internet, like something out of InfoWars or an Art Bell broadcast.
On Sunday, he brought up the possibility that “the supernatural” was somehow involved in the disappearance. On Monday, he floated the idea that the plane could be hiding in North Korea. But last night, he really outdid himself, asking a former U.S. Department of Transportation inspector general whether the airplane was somehow sucked into a black hole. Yes, a black hole.
“I know it’s preposterous,” he said to her, “but is it preposterous?”

Yeah, Don it’s preposterous. But don’t worry; there’s never a shortage of disaster stories or News of the Weird. Back in the day conservatives used to mock CNN as “Clinton News Network.” I’d say “Catastrophe News Network” is more appropriate right now.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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