The Cafferty File

Published: January 30, 2009

By Jim Lichtman
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Jack Cafferty is CNN’s resident grouch.

Five days a week, Cafferty has a segment on CNN’s Situation Room that frequents the three-hour program with questions to viewers; questions that cut-to-the-chase of all things political and cultural.

In examining some of the details of President Obama’s stimulus package, Jack asks, “How does getting people to stop smoking stimulate the economy?”

Or this, “[Republicans] can’t be thrilled that the new President is signing one executive order after another to undo the policies of his Republican predecessor.  These are all indications that this isn’t going to be the smooth sailing President Obama had in mind.  Here’s my question to you: Is the spirit of bipartisanship already dead in Washington?”

Actually, I like Cafferty’s questions.  They’re not only the kinds of questions I would like answered, but, judging from the hundreds of emails he gets from viewers, they’re questions a lot of people would like answered as well.

However, Jack can turn his questions on his own colleagues.

“I have a bone to pick with my own industry.

“Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich came to New York a few days ago to babble incoherently about all the various charges pending against him… and the news media reacted like he was the second coming.

“Minnesota held an election for a Senate seat last November. It is almost February, and they still can’t figure out who won: Norm Coleman or Al Franken. I quit caring several weeks ago.

“…Sarah Palin… announced she’s forming a political action committee… [And] the media breathlessly jumped on this story like the future of the free world hung in the balance.”

And he’s right.  Why is the media so hungry for interviews with a blathering, (now impeached) governor charged with corruption who refused to defend himself at his own impeachment trial?

Instead of focusing on miscellaneous candidate reactions from the (still pending) Senate seat in Minnesota, why can’t the media look for answers that address the state’s election process?

And “Who cares?” Jack asks, if Sarah Palin is forming a political action committee, “the next presidential election is almost four years away.”

Maybe Jack should dig deeper into the responsibilities of the media and how they decide to cover stories that have relevance in our lives.

Maybe he can help bring about change in his own industry as Obama is endeavoring to do in Washington.

Maybe he can help network news editors focus on stories with real substance, instead of stories that add little to any meaningful debate.

Yesterday, I was astounded to watch CNBC’s Erin Burnett and Mark Haines interview Rush Limbaugh on his “Obama-Limbaugh Stimulus Plan,” a ludicrous public relations stunt concocted by an “entertainer” who has no financial credentials at all!

Here’s my question to CNN Chiefs:  Why doesn’t Cafferty have his own show where he can dig a little deeper into these kinds of issues?

Cafferty just might help keep CNN, and others in electronic news, a little more honest.

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