CNN covered live, exclusively and interminably for 9 consecutive hours,the return of the Carnival cruise ship Triumph which had become disabled at sea, until it docked in Mobile Alabama at approximately 11 p.m. eastern.
Nine hours on CNN of nothing but watching a big cruise ship being towed by tug boats at between 3 and 5 mph after it had been disabled for 4 days by a fire that had wiped out the ships electricity and engines.
CNN and its journalists treated the event like it was the Titanic instead of what it really was - a titanic inconvenience and nothing more, for those on board and nothing short of a man bites dog story for the rest of the country. How unimportant was it? You couldn't find the story about the ship finally docking on the front page of the NY Times. You had to go to the travel section to find the story, which is where it belonged.
No one was killed. No one was injured. No one was sick. No one was in any danger of any of those things happening. It was not a tsunami. It was not an earthquake. It was not a natural disaster of any kind. It was not the cruise ship that went aground and tipped over on its side in Greece putting people at great risk and necessitating dramatic sea rescues.
It 4200 people aboard a large cruise ship who went through enormous inconvenience for 5 days without electricity aboard a cruise ship, and thanks to CNN because many though not all, the toilets weren't we working, we know they had to poop in biohazard bags. It's not known if reporting that fell under CNN's journalistic guidelines of the public having a right to know, the need to know, or ought to know.
But that and other things, none of which had anyone in any danger is what CNN thought worthy of 9 consecutive hours of live coverage by all their correspondents and for some reason known probably known only to her college roommate, necessitated a trip by Erin Burnette and Martin Savage flying to Mobile to be on the dock with a camera crew when the ship came in.
CNN seemed to think that this ship coming in would be their ship coming in as far ratings are concerned, but they are liable to be disappointed. It was one of the biggest bores in the history of television news which is saying something when you consider the low level of journalism you get on a daily basis on all the cable news channels.
It finally degenerated into a kind of desperate comedy when coverage spilled over into CNN's pretentiously named Situation Room, and Wolf Blitzer did his best to try and turn it into something serious when anyone could see it wasn't.
Blitzer kept repeating that this was a "dramatic and very serious news story" only to be constantly rebuked by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, maybe the one real journalist CNN has who doesn't compromise his integrity one iota, when Blitzer kept asking leading questions hoping for breathless answers from Gupta concerning the seriousness and danger of disease aboard the ship. Unfortunately Blitzer didn't get what he wanted from Gupta who simply told him there was no danger of disease at all because of the conditions. Blitzer tried again reminding Gupta of the perceptions out there that this is a dangerous situation with the potential to spread disease and Gupta said he understood that there might be those perceptions but that the perceptions were wrong and that there was no danger of disease. Blitzer, undaunted, tried again pointing out that the mother of one of the passengers was bringing antibiotics to give her daughter when she got off the ship. Gupta said, really bad idea, since you don't do that if someone isn't really sick.
CNN kept trying to tug at our heartstrings and empathy and the deplorable conditions those on the ship had to endure by talking about how families and loved ones hadn't been able to hear from those on the ship for two whole days because of no cell phone service and the internet being knocked out,ignoring the fact that they were on a cruise and out to sea where presumably there aren't a lot of cell phone towers so no one would have gotten a cell phone call from them anyway.
Erin Burnette who breathlessly made it to the scene of of the docking in Mobile Alabama, on the scene, helped pass the time of waiting for the ship to dock by asking a former Carnival crew member if the crew, any crew on a cruise ship was really ready to handle a fire on board the ship. Her voice was hopeful, full of anticipation that he would say "no" no one could be prepared for anything like this, and she would finally have something newsworthy to justify all this attention. But her hopes were dashed when he said, " the crew is absolutely ready to handle a fire and this kind of situation. They are sailors first, they are well trained, and they know exactly what to do in a situation like this".
Clearly disappointed she thanked him and moved on to how terrible it must have been not to have internet for days and not be able to send videos or text messages to loved ones.
There was another attempt to try and justify this idiotic expenditure of resources when Martin Savage, interviewing a passenger getting off the ship after it docked, tried to compare their experience with Katrina. The passenger clearly thought Savage was nuts and would have none of it. "Two different things, two entirely different things. We were on vacation here to have a good time, we were on a cruise ship. In Katrina's case it was people's homes that were destroyed, their whole lives that were affected". Not to mention 1500 people who died, not exactly the same as 4000 people who had to poop in a biohazard bag.
After this latest passenger interview dashed Savage's hopes of comparing a cruise ship inconvenience to Hurricane Katrina, Erin Burnette kept hope alive pointing out that there had to be people who were "absolutely frightened". But she couldn't find any. And no one she interviewed said they were frightened.
Another passenger getting off the ship, this one interviewed by Martin Savage, was asked, "what was the lowest point for you"? You could literally see the blood drain out of Savage and Burnett's face when he said, " there really wasn't any". Savage and Burnett looked at each other briefly and shared a "now what?" moment.
Their last desperate shot at trying to justify 9+ hours of continuous coverage came when Burnette used the well known underhanded dishonest journalistic trick of trying to create a controversy and get an answer to something that has no bearing on reality by saying to a passenger, " there are some passengers are really angry about what happened. What do you say to that"?
Journalists always like to say "some say", when asking a question when no one at all has said it but them, but they don't want to say it's them saying it so they say "some say". But in this case this passenger left Burnette holding the proverbial biohazard bag when he said, "the crew was wonderful, they couldn't have done a better job. It was a little inconvenient, but the crew was wonderful, many of them going without sleep and doing all they could. We werent angry at all".
It was an end to a long and grueling day for CNN and it was hard to say who went through more grief and who had the more trying time, the passengers on board the Triumph, or CNN. Based on the expressions on the faces and the demeanor of the passengers and the journalists for CNN, it seems to be CNN.