- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 19, 2011

CNN, desperately hurting for ratings, is making national news again, but not for good reporting - for absurd reporting.

Tuesday evening, CNN’s John King apologized for a guest using the word “cross hairs,” saying, “Before we go to break, I want to make a quick point. We were having a discussion about the Chicago mayoral race. My friend Andy Shaw used the term ‘in the cross hairs’ in talking about the candidates. We’re trying, we’re trying to get away from that language. Andy is a good friend, he’s covered politics for a long time, but we’re trying to get away from that kind of language.”

Seriously?

Apparently, “cross hairs” is part of that toxic speech the left has been desperately trying to blame for the Tucson, Ariz., shootings. If that’s the case, maybe CNN is partially to blame because, for decades, it had a political program called, as we all know, “Crossfire.”

But, no matter.

What’s more embarrassing than not putting the blame for the shootings squarely where it belongs - with accused shooter Jared Lee Loughner - is that Mr. King apparently doesn’t even know the meaning of the term cross hair.

Merriam-Webster defines cross hair as “a fine wire or thread in the focus of the eyepiece of an optical instrument used as a reference line in the field or for marking the instrumental axis - used figuratively to describe someone or something being targeted as if through an aiming device having cross hairs.”

The example given is “in the cross hairs this political season.”

The words don’t have to allude to guns. Surveyors, after all, also use cross hairs.

Sarah Palin’s camp had to explain this last week, when she came under fire for the cross-hairs graphic on a midterm election “target list.”

Take a look at the previous sentence: fire, target, cross hair - what vitriol.

What’s next, CNN?

Will you also stop using words such as aim, fire, shoot and target?

I suppose sentences such as, “President Obama takes aim at Sarah Palin” will, henceforth, be verboten.

“Sarah Palin is targeting Newt Gingrich in her new ad.” Nope. Unacceptable.

Will Wolf Blitzer apologize for the next reporter who dares to utter the sentence, “John A. Boehner attacked the Obama administration today”? That’s just getting out of hand. We don’t need that kind of violent talk.

CNN’s hypersensitivity to any words perceived as violent renders it neutered.

Why report on anything violent? We know there are copycat crimes, so wouldn’t it just add to the violence in the country if we reported on school shootings? Isn’t making heroes of men and women who killed people in war irresponsible? After all, they’re using the dreaded cross hairs to kill, sometimes dozens of people at a time.

CNN is losing the ratings race, and John King’s comment is a perfect example of why. It has become ridiculous. How can anyone take a network seriously with that kind of political correctness run amok?

Ultimately, what CNN is doing is talking down to its ever-dwindling audience. It’s patronizing and condescending to think people can’t grasp figures of speech.

The only ones who aren’t grasping this are the people at CNN.

John King should be fired.

Oh, the invective.

Tricia Owen is a freelance writer in Atlanta.