I admit it, I have a problem. I’m addicted to CNN.
For years, I had my news viewing under control. No watching CNN in the morning. Restricting my evening viewing to one or two hours only.
Years ago, my wife accused me of having a CNN problem but that was during the Gulf War and I was young and everyone was doing it. Plus, I knew I could quit at any time and in February of 1991 when the war ended, I proved my point and went cold turkey.
After all, for much of its history, CNN’s coverage hasn’t been very appetizing or enticing. But then in the spring and summer of 2015 everything changed. That was the start of the Republican contest for the 2016 presidential nomination.
Things started slowly for me. Normally I wouldn’t have tuned in that often for early presidential campaigns but this time was different. With upwards of seventeen declared candidates for the presidential nomination, it was hard not to sneak in an extra hour or two of CNN from time to time.
But if I’m being completely honest, the beginning of my out-of-control cable news viewing started on June 16th of 2015 when Donald J. Trump declared his candidacy. With The Donald in the race, it was hard to say no to the ongoing series of debates, forums and primaries. After all, he was violating every political norm and providing outrageous entertainment that even non-politically engaged viewers found hard to resist.
So I started spending more nights glued to CNN and its non-stop coverage. I was drinking in hour after hour of the Republican race and oftentimes staying up late to catch the post-debate or post-primary analysis.
Sometimes I’d stay up to the wee hours of the morning, stagger off to bed and then wake up mid-morning with a splitting headache. I’m ashamed to say that I got to the point where I would turn on CNN in the morning just to get a little “hair of the dog” to cure my political hangover.
Like most news junkies, I rationalized my behavior by saying that I would stop shortly. After all, the most addictive element of the race was Donald Trump and, as everyone said, he’d have to drop out soon and then I could stop viewing.
But that didn’t happen. Mr. Trump won the Republican nomination and then went on to do and say even more outrageous things and I couldn’t resist. Months passed and I was watching CNN every chance I got. Social viewing was no more; most of the time I was watching by myself.
Morning, noon and night, I was following the presidential race. Even if I didn’t have access to a TV, I would sneak a few minutes of CNN on my phone while at work or in the car. More often than I’d like to admit, I’d pass out on my sofa at home in front of the TV.
Yet I still wouldn’t acknowledge that I had a cable news-viewing problem. Right up until November 8th of 2016, I swore to my wife and anyone else who would listen that I’d be quitting that very day since a Hillary Clinton victory was a slam dunk.
We all know how that story turned out. Trump won and I lost. I was glued to CNN day and night and my life was a mess. I even started following the president on Twitter. The past year has been a roller coaster of binge viewing with occasional unsuccessful attempts to ditch the tube.
I hit bottom last month, admitted I was addicted to CNN, and joined CNAA (Cable News Addicts Anonymous). With the help of other addicted viewers and a new subscription to Netflix, I’ve been CNN-clean for three weeks now. So long as I don’t start binge-watching House of Cards, I think I’m going to make it.