This week MSNBC, CNN, and Huffington Post among others screamed of a “NUCLEAR OPTION” being passed in the senate.
FALL OUT!” exclaimed the Huffington Post.
So what was this event that warranted comparison to Hiroshima and tens of thousands dead? Why, the Senate changed the rules for filibustering.
It doesn’t take a nuclear scientist to figure out why news sites ran with the sexier title. What is going to get more clicks? “NUCLEAR BUTTON PUSHED” or “Senate Modifies Filibuster Procedures?”
It’s a tough business reporting the news – sometimes its boring. Sure, a news site can put up a few hundred Miley Cyrus twerking stories on the sidebar (the story behind the man behind the foam finger), but it has to report the news once and a while or those reporter people who work there will stop showing up for $33,000 a year. Another Kendall Jenner story and they’ll throw their transition lenses on the floor, misquote James Joyce, and quit screaming that it used to be about the issues.
So the media compromises – it reports the news in a wildly inaccurate way to fool idiots into clicking on things. They wonder, “what is the nuclear option? Am I and everyone I know going to get obliterated?” This makes the news sites ecstatic because they get paid per click. It doesn’t matter that their reader doesn’t read. They get the same revenue even though they just skim the headline, read the first sentence, get bored, and start commenting at the bottom about how Obama is a Muslim and how the filibuster should have been around to stop Halliburton from starting the Iraq war.
That’s not to say there aren’t important ramifications to the new filibuster rules. One wonders how 52 senators can vote that there need not be 60 senators on a different vote. If that was the case, did any vote really require 60 senators?
But whether or not news is important should be for the public to decide. An analogy to nuclear warfare may be helpful in explaining a concept, but it is not helpful to titling a piece of news. Just like how even though hazelnut spread may taste like peanut butter, you can’t label the jar “peanut butter” – that’s helpful to no one except a serial killer desperately trying to kill wimpy kids with peanut allergies.
Nuclear weapons are a different kind of news. If you can’t find a way to get people worked up over actual news, then perhaps you need to do a better job of figuring out what the real news is.