Cable News: Let The Mindless Speculation Begin

When cable news anchors cover a developing story like the Boston Marathon bombing, they are forced to either constantly repeat the same, limited facts over and over again; or they choose to improvise, make it up as they go, and dabble in wild, unfounded speculation just to fill the air time and to keep themselves interested in their topic.  

Within hours of the bombing in Boston, this is exactly what CNN and MSNBC decided to engage in.  As John Nolte pointed out earlier, CNN's analyst decided to speculate that "right wing extremists" could be involved in the bombing. 

Once the device -- if it a device -- is found; what kind of explosives were used. So for instance, if it was hydrogen peroxide, this is a signature of al Qaeda. If it was more conventional explosives, which are much harder to get hold of now -- that might be some other kind of right-wing extremist. … We've also seen, for instance, right-wing groups trying to attack the Martin Luther King parade in Oregon in 2010. 

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Meanwhile, MSNBC had a very entertaining riff on whether there was one bomb or two at the finish line. This was after police had already confirmed that there had, in fact, been two.  That didn't stop MSNBC from assuring viewers that officials believed it was "one small improvised explosion. In other words, a homemade bomb."

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Finally, the master of this kind of baseless speculation designed to fill time with molotov cocktails of "analysis" instead of facts and information for hungry viewers. MSNBC's Chris Matthews informed the proud peacock network's viewers that "as a category, normally, domestic terrorists tend to be on the far right."

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To his credit, Fox News Channel's Shep Smith has been the most restrained in the speculation game and has relied on eyewitness accounts and repetition of the facts at hand. It might be boring for an anchor to constantly repeat the information for his viewers, but, in the end, isn't that their job?


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