We’ve just escaped from the peak travel season, when tens of millions of people spent millions of hours waiting in the airport for their flights to depart, and experiencing rising blood pressure because CNN was pouring out of screens all around them.
There are two types of people who get aggravated watching CNN at the airport: those whose heads almost explode every time Donald Trump opens his mouth, and the “fake news” crowd who think the media, especially CNN, have a vendetta against the president.
With about 50 airport outlets, CNN Airport is not available at every gate but it’s the prime video source at many of the biggest airports. And it’s important to note that the CNN Airport feed is not the same as standard CNN, having a greater emphasis on sports and weather while editing out most airplane crash stories.
But even with the extra emphasis on sports and weather, there’s still a lot of political news on CNN Airport and that means a lot of commentary about President Trump. I’ve written before that the news media and the President pretend to be engaged in a fight to the death, but are actually in a codependent relationship at the expense of our sanity and peace of mind. President Trump has a pathological need to see himself on TV 24/7 and the media desperately need ratings.
CNN in particular does not have clean hands. This is the network that I watch when I need to absorb live news so I saw a lot of their coverage of the 2016 Republican primaries. Back when it mattered and there were real alternatives to Trump, CNN seemed to be wall-to-wall Trump. I think they understood early on that airing a live Trump rally generated a lot higher ratings than a Jeb Bush town hall and acted accordingly.
Somewhere along the line this mutual back-scratching soured and now CNN and Trump are ostensibly at each other’s throats. You can’t go fifteen minutes without some CNN analyst, commentator, or panelist observing what an idiot the President is and of course the President is more than happy to respond in kind with a nasty tweet.
So, that’s great for CNN’s ratings, but is all that high school-level drama what we really need while we’re sitting at a gate waiting to be seated on our delayed flight?
And more to the point, in this day and age do we really need a news program to be constantly blaring at the airport at all? Almost everyone who can afford a plane ticket has a smartphone with access to Twitter or any newsfeed of their choosing.
De-stressing is the reason the Life Time Fitness gym chain decided to eliminate all national cable network news stations (not just CNN but also Fox News, MSNBC and CNBC) from the TV screens at its 128 fitness centers in the U.S. and Canada. The chain said its members had had enough “consistently negative or politically charged content” and wanted instead a family-oriented environment.
What’s good enough for a fitness center seems good enough for an airport. Rather than a news network that raises our anxiety levels at the airport how about a palliative video feed? I’m not talking about a Transcendental Meditation channel but maybe something with a higher level of entertainment.
How about a channel that shows nothing by animal videos? TheDodo.com is a website devoted to cute and inspiring animal videos – turning that into a airport channel would raise everyone’s spirits. But even if animal videos are not your thing, I’m sure there are plenty of other mood-elevating content providers who could step forward.
Alas, the business of supplying airport video is just that – a business. Companies bid for this space and unless their erstwhile competitors make a sudden leap forward, CNN is likely to remain a dominant provider as long as airports look at the bottom line instead of what’s best for the mental health of travelers.