CNN's coverage of today's crisis lacked important analysis
Here's my quick take for Columbia Journalism Review of the ongoing crisis in Washington, DC. Below is a bit more context.
CNN is covering a live, ongoing law enforcement crisis primarily with political pundits. This is an active and dangerous situation. CNN should have some sort of specialists with expertise in policing and crowd control to help explain what is happening on the ground and what response would be appropriate to help end the standoff.
In covering the explosive standoff on Capitol Hill this afternoon, Van Jones exclaimed, “This is treason.” Yes, you could say that.
Anderson Cooper said, “These are insurrectionists and treasonists,” who are “high fiving each other… They’re going to go back to Olive Garden and to the Holiday Inn that they’re staying at and the Garden Marriott and they’re going to have some drinks.”
They’ve also gone to David Axelrod and Rick Santorum for expert analysis. Needless to say, much of the focus has been on how Donald Trump (and Rudy Giuliani) have incited today’s violent events.
We all pretty much know why the rioters stormed the Capitol today. It would be helpful to understand why the situation ended up as bad as it did. Why weren't they better prepared? It would be nice to know why the Capitol Police failed so spectacularly this afternoon. How did the MAGA supporters end up in an armed standoff? Where was the National Guard? Why did it take so long to respond? If this had been a Black Lives Matter march that stormed the nation's capitol, how would the police reaction have been different? I know CNN has law enforcement analysts readily available (or at least they should have today). I didn't see one.
Yes, the politics are important and they would be remiss to ignore the root causes of today’s crisis. But we could use a more measured and technical approach to this tinderbox. If this happened in any other country, if terrorists take over a building, you get your police experts in front of a camera immediately. The choice to rely on political talking heads is only moderately helpful in the middle of this event.