CNN botched coverage of Flight 370

By The Beacon | March 27, 2014 12:05am

Mitchell Gilbert |

For the past two weeks, the focus of the American media has been upon the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Flight 370.  For those of you who somehow do not know, Flight 370 was a plane flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The plane disappeared on March 8, and it is presumed to have crashed somewhere in the Indian Ocean.

This was a tragic and horrific event, and I hope by some miracle that all of the 239 passengers onboard the aircraft are found and all are able to return home safely.

However, the media coverage of this event has been nothing short of preposterous and insane. Specifically, I’m referring to the coverage done by CNN.

CNN began its coverage announcing the disappearance of Flight 370, but it did not just stop there and wait for updates on the situation. No, that was not nearly enough. Its coverage spiraled out of control, slowly falling away from news broadcast and into a work of fiction, theories and entertainment.

It is not CNN’s job to report upon theories. It is CNN’s job to report facts. It is CNN’s job to inform the citizens of the United States about the issues going on around the world, and to make sure that we, as American voters, can remain an informed electorate. News is not about entertainment. Yet CNN and FOX reported upon the Malaysia Flight as if they were speculating upon whether or not Cody Simpson was going to be eliminated from “Dancing with the Stars” this week.

So what is an example of one of their absurd theories? CNN commentator Don Lemon theorized that Flight 370 had been sucked into a black hole. It seems highly unlikely to me that the plane was lost in some sort of intergalactic vortex. Sure, it could have happened. I’m not the one to speculate upon whether or not it did. It just seems unlikely that Flight 370 went down the same way Captain Kirk’s dad’s ship did in the first “Star Trek” movie.

The most ridiculous thing about all of this coverage is simply the timing. How could CNN spend more than a full day covering the disappearance of a plane over the Indian Ocean while Russia is annexing a section of Ukraine? This is the single greatest foreign policy challenge in the six years of President Obama’s presidency.

And yet, as long as this plane is missing, we will hear little of it on CNN. We will hear little about the protests in Venezuela, the civil war in Syria, or the Supreme Court ruling on whether or not businesses can be given the same religious rights as people.

The missing Malaysia Flight is an important news story, but theorizing on what might have happened to Flight 370 is not news. The media are often referred to as the fourth arm of the American government. I would like to see the major media media outlets like CNN, FOX and MSNBC taking that job a bit more seriously.

Mitchell Gilbert is a sophomore business major. He can be reached at