Farewell Larry, as CNN Dumbs Down
Mark Seddon is the former United Nations Correspondent and New York Bureau Chief for Al-Jazeera English TV. He reported from eighteen countries during that time, including North Korea, China, Haiti, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has interviewed, amongst others, Ban Ki-Moon, Lech Walesa, Tony Blair, Hans Blix, Michael Foot, Mia Farrow, and George Clooney. In a journalistic career spanning over twenty years, he has been Editor of Tribune and an elected member of the UK Labour Party's National Executive Committee. He has written for most British newspapers and many magazines, including The Guardian, The Independent, The Daily Mail, The Times, The Spectator, New Statesman, Private Eye, British Journalism Review and Country Life Magazine. For a number of years he was a Diarist at the London Evening Standard, and has also reported for, amongst others, the BBC and Sky TV. He lives in Buckingham, England.
At one level you can but admire the chutzpah of CNN President Jonathan Klein who is replacing the venerable Larry King with an English presenter, who King says he” wouldn’t recognise if he walked down the street”. Fortunately for Klein the English man in question is not Tony Hayward of BP, but one Piers Pugh Morgan, a former editor of the tabloid Daily Mirror and a judge on America’s Got Talent.
Piers Morgan lives and breathes ‘celebrity’, he made his name as a pursuer of celebrity trivia for the News of the World newspaper, a gutter hugging popular tabloid. He went on to become the youngest Editor of the left leaning Daily Mirror, a newspaper that had long before lost its claim to be a champion of the ordinary man and woman in the street. To be fair to Piers, he couldn’t take the Mirror much further down-market, and always there to prevent any hint of old Mirror revival was the in your face rival that is Rupert Murdoch’s Sun. And so it continued – until Piers Morgan gloriously broke with the British Government over the war in Iraq and the Mirror was suddenly back with us again, urgent, clear and angry. And then Piers went and spoilt it all by publishing fake photographs of British soldiers torturing Iraqis by putting hoods over them and urinating on them.
This was not a simple mistake, a question of publishing photographs in good faith not knowing that they had been concocted. Morgan was repeatedly warned not to run them because his staff and lawyers knew that they were fakes. Morgan published and was rightly damned – not because for some reason he had pressed the auto-destruct button, but because the pictures were dynamite in the Middle East, confirmation that the Brits were just as bad as the Americans at Abu Ghraib. Having spoken out against the war, Morgan’s actions now put some of those same soldiers in harms way. He was sacked. I don’t recall him ever apologising, although he will correct me if I am wrong.
But since many Americans sincerely believe in giving people a second chance – which presumably also explains Klein’s decision to hand the show that precedes Larry King to the disgraced Governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer – Piers Morgan will have his second shot.
Now personally I have nothing against Piers Morgan, who I have known on and off over the years. He is not one of nature’s ‘firers’, and his staff usually tended to like him. Of course he is bumptious and will only talk to you if he thinks there is something in it for him, but that hardly makes him unique. I once sat opposite him at a Labour Party fund raiser, as he stretched over to Tony Blair and said “Oi Tony, you want to raise some money? Here’s a Tenner!”, before throwing a crumpled note in the then Leader of the Opposition’s direction. That incident says a lot about Morgan’s cheek – but also just as he sidles up to power and celebrity and loves name dropping, how also he can turn.
So he will be pretty fearless in posing the questions, even if he won’t sport braces. But is he a later day David Frost? Pull the other one!
What Piers Morgan truly represents is the triumph of ‘B’ list celebrity trivia and gossip, and alarmingly yet further evidence of the dumbing down of TV and CNN in particular. Sure, he can fire questions from the hip, but this man has not drunk from any deep wells.
His is a school of journalism that Ted Turner created CNN to escape from.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
Great again? Why America stopped looking forward to the future
- Income inequality is dividing Americans.
- Wages haven't risen in 30 years, while prices for housing, schools, and basic goods has.
- Canny (and uncanny) politicians have learned how to milk the politics of fear by comparing the present to the past.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.