But the worst component of CNN’s Ferguson coverage—which no video or still can adequately capture—is the fact that, for much of the night, what viewers saw were Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo bantering with each other and other on-scene anchors. This was CNN: Anchors interviewing their colleagues, rather than anyone around them. Amidst a crowd resisting the profound injustice of Michael Brown’s death, you were watching television personalities talking to themselves.Gawker does a good job with the style problem there. But the substance was even worse.
Lemon then asked multiple times how (Jesse) Jackson could "make excuses" for looters in Ferguson.Don Lemon's nominal job is to inform people about the events CNN is filming. Ideally, this would mean it's his job to tell us relevant facts about the social, political, and historical context in which these events are occurring. But this would also require him to know at least one goddamned thing first.
"I don't want to speak for you, that you're making excuses for the bad doers," the CNN host said. "So what do you want to leave with people? What is your message going forward?"
"I am not making excuses going forward. I'm giving an analysis that compounded injustice leads to anarchy and justice leads to peace," Jackson answered. "I am fundamentally an advocate of non-violence but I understand how pain plays out when it's compounded, and it is a long train of abuses."
Lemon then suggested that the violence in Ferguson was a change from peaceful protests in the 60s.
"Reverend, part of your legacy is that you marched with Dr. King peacefully, non-violent protests," he said. "What has changed in our culture and our society that people result -- resort to things that played out here last night in Ferguson?"
"You do know that when Dr. King was alive we had the Watts riots and the Newark riots and the Detroit riots and Chicago," Jackson responded, adding that "police action triggered those riots."
"Blacks are ten times more likely to be arrested. That matters. And for juries to look in the face of killed young blacks and say that jury was justified in letting them go through, that's a bitter pill to swallow," Jackson added.
But, in reality, Lemon's job isn't to inform so much as it is to comfort. He's not really there to tell us anything. He's there to say stupid things that validate the ignorance of the know-nothings in the audience. This way they feel better about themselves. Reward the stupidity long enough to keep them watching through the next Cialis commercial. That's all this is for.