CNN and Others' Magic Wall

The contradiction between the modern productive forces and the outmoded relations of production and their political reflection and form were on full display election night.

The major U.S. TV networks went all out election night to squeeze the life out of the people of the U.S. and reduce their brains to mush. For the most part the network presenters talked to walls and the "magic walls" answered with stifling regularity.

CNN's John King talked endlessly and passionately to his "magic wall" saying softly to it many times, "This is fun."

Bill Hemmer at Fox News had what he called with a smile his "Bill board." When someone questioned Bill if he had any idea what all those little red and blue "Bill board" squares represented and meant he candidly replied, "No, I'm looking at them all on this teleprompter here."

Steve Kornacki at MSNBC had an almost identical wall but with a more pedestrian name, "interactive touchscreen map." Steve tried to drive up the enthusiasm tweeting beforehand, "Heading up to the studio and not leaving until we've got a result. Our live coverage starts at 6 -- hope you'll come along for the ride!"

Chuck Todd on NBC News had what was simply called the NBC News Map. In a memorable moment, Todd interpreted the "Map" while pointing to a square saying, "If Biden comes up short, that's where he's going to find the votes he should have gotten to get this." Unfortunately, no one was around who could interpret Todd's interpretation of what the "Map" was saying.

The wall was a "magic board" for Anthony Salvanto on CBS News. A commentator with Variety noted Salvanto's "intense focus during his segments at the magic board, focusing on the nitty gritty of county-by-county analyses of demographic and turnout patterns in state after state. Salvanto usually holds a clutch of rolled up papers in one hand as the other glides across the magic board's many touch screens. Shortly after 9:00 pm ET, he noted the clear pattern evident that voters who went to the polls on Tuesday [November 3] favoured President Trump 69-30, compared to a 53-46 tilt toward Joe Biden among early voters in the battleground state of North Carolina. 'That split defines this [race] as much as any geography,' Salvanto told viewers." This profound insight was said to arise probably from the fact that Salvanto received a PhD in political science from the University of California at Irvine.

Tom Llamas handled the "wall" for ABC News. News reports praised Llamas for his measured use of the "wall." He premised each "wall" segment with the warning that before announcing results in this particular part of the country, "We want to make sure we have enough of a sample."

Canadian commentator John Doyle writing in the Globe and Mail was not impressed. In his article,  "The night of jabbering fools: U.S. TV news fails on election night," he complained, "You might as well be talking to the walls.... For all their nerdy guy-stuff minutiae about voting patterns in obscure counties, none of them can actually explain what's happening. After 10 hours, you wish a pox on all their houses and walls."

When the Democratic blue wave predicted by the polls failed to materialize and in the wee hours of the morning the race was still too close to call Doyle wrote, "An air of desperate puzzlement fell over all the TV coverage. Something about the unexpectedly tight results meant that the anchors and pundits knew they were out of their depth. They were. As a result, watching the U.S. presidential election results unfold on TV was total Novocaine -- no high, just numbness."

Doyle and others should step back a minute and think about what they witnessed. The "magic wall" and the artificial intelligence (AI) and other modern productive forces have advanced the world to where people and their collectives can actually take control of their lives. We can feed ourselves, clothe ourselves, educate ourselves and house ourselves without the intervention of overlords. We can organize work to have time to engage in politics, education, culture, recreation and generally to lift ourselves up as human beings and a society and take control of our lives, economy, and politics.

The problem is not the magic wall and the jabbering fools but the economic and political forms that constrain us within an era long gone, before we had AI and magic walls. The concrete conditions of the productive forces are before our eyes and offer the people a great future but the outmoded relations of production must be changed to bring them into conformity with those advanced forces.

What is the ensemble of human relations in the present telling us, in particular about political power? What do the human relations say about how we should organize and harmonize our relations with one another, our collectives, our work and the modern productive forces and nature?

People have to continue their fight for what belongs to them by right. They must seize the moment and organize themselves in a powerful contingent of individuals and collectives to design what the New will be. Humans have always been able to come up with the political and social forms necessary, commensurate with the condition of the productive forces and what the ensemble of all relations between humans and humans and humans and nature reveal.

This time in history, the people have the chance to do so consciously, to make history with a plan and foresight to bring our relations of production into conformity with the fantastic productive forces that we have developed, to harmonize our human relations with one another and our collectives and with nature.

The U.S. election coverage clearly showed that reference points and anchors from the past are flailing about, unable to find their bearings. It is not a pretty sight.

This article was published in

Volume 50 Number 44 - November 14, 2020

Article Link:
CNN and Others' Magic Wall


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