The Worst Segments That Appeared on Cable News in 2014

Or, the year in Don Lemon.

In 2014, it was hard to escape the overwhelming sense that the world was falling apart. Between Ebola, ISIS, Ferguson, Ukraine, and lost airliners, doom-and-gloom news ruled the year. For cable news, however, bad news is good news—and big business. The good folks at FOX News and CNN solemnly took on the mission to inform a scared, confused public hoping to make sense of it all. Let’s look back on their best moments:


CNN anchors Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo were on the ground in Ferguson, Missouri, following the grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson. Lemon notably reported some crucial details, such as the “obvious” smell of marijuana among protesters:

Moments after that, a canister of tear gas was sent in their direction, presumably by the police. While the network’s coverage up to this point wasn’t exactly smart, it’s worth noting that what followed was pretty remarkable:

Bill O’Reilly and guest Bernie Goldberg, fuming from the FOX studios, were determined not to be outdone. If you can make it through the first ten seconds, watch this piping-hot take develop on Ferguson residents protesting in order to steal “cell phones and liquor”:


FOX News was responsible for some truly stellar coverage on the rise of ISIS. Aside from garden-variety fear-mongering, FOX stepped into the ISIS versus ISIL debate with an interesting theory—that Obama was using the term “ISIL” as a sign of respect to the terrorist group:

Megyn Kelly sparred with a representative from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who argued that it was wrong to conclude all Muslims are extremist because of ISIS. Kelly was not receptive to this idea:

CNN, not content to let FOX have all the wildly irresponsible fun of generalizing an entire religion, had scholar Reza Aslan on to discuss religion and violence. Aslan got a little heated, which Chris Cuomo basically used as evidence that Islam is inherently extreme. This earnest echo chamber begins around 1:15 (right after a spirited investigation of a “sperm bank mix-up”):


At the height of the Ebola hysteria, CNN earnestly asked the question: is Ebola the “ISIS of biological agents?” It was a genius convergence of news cycles. Perhaps it was too genius. It took an NYU doctor about a minute to debunk the notion:

For FOX News’ Gretchen Carlson, the conspiracy was deeper, wider, more sinister. In this segment, she called into question the government’s response to Ebola, because… Benghazi/IRS/Obamacare:


While most of the media reacted to a viral catcalling video with concern, FOX stepped in to ask the real question: what was all the fuss about?

Bob Beckel used his influential soapbox for a noble purpose: to catcall the woman in the video, again. At around 3:05:

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

What exactly happened to MH370 will likely remain a mystery for a very long time. With no clear answer and few concrete details in this tragedy, CNN was left to fill in the blanks. First, Don Lemon—with the helpful aid of some props—took us through some likely possibilities:

Then, as answers appeared harder to come by, Lemon and some CNN guests wondered if something else happened to the plane—something spooky. Just try not to get the chills here:

Even deeper into the crisis, the network—worn down by hundreds of hours of MH370 coverage—appeared to just totally lose it. Under the guise of a “your questions answered” segment, Lemon asks: would it be all that crazy to think the plane got swallowed by a black hole?


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as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot.

Please read our annual column about the state of journalism and Mother Jones' plans for the year ahead, and help us build an alternative to oligarchy by supporting our people-powered journalism with a year-end gift today.

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