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.
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 focus on sports and weather, there’s still lots of political news on CNN Airport, which 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 much of its coverage of the 2016 Republican primaries. Back when it mattered, when there were real alternative candidates, CNN seemed to be wall-to-wall Trump. I think its strategists understood early on that airing a live Trump rally generated much 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 15 minutes without some CNN analyst observing what an idiot the President is — and of course the President is more than happy to respond in kind with a nasty tweet.
This trend may be great for CNN’s ratings — but is all that high-school-level drama what we really need when we’re sitting at the gate, waiting to board our delayed flight?
More to the point, in this day and age, do we really need a news program to be constantly blaring in 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.
To help de-stress its members — who had had enough “consistently negative or politically charged content” — the Life Time Fitness gym chain decided to eliminate all national cable network news stations (not just CNN, but Fox News, MSNBC and CNBC as well) from the TV screens at its 128 fitness centers in the U.S. and Canada.
What works for a fitness center may work even better in the stressful environment of an airport. Rather than a news network that raises our anxiety levels, how about a palliative video feed? I’m not talking about a Transcendental Meditation channel, but maybe something relaxing that still entertains and distracts.
For example, 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 plenty of other mood-elevating content providers 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.