CNN has done a masterful job of seizing the opportunity provided by Robert Stone’s thought-provoking Pandora’s Promise to generate a passionate discussion about the use of nuclear energy — a vitally important topic — at a critical time in American history. The decision makers at that somewhat fading network should be congratulated.
Of course, generating passionate discussion about controversial subjects on which large numbers of people hold strong opinions is one of the best ways for an entertainment network like CNN to entice viewers to pay attention to their shows and articles. Getting viewers to tune in and pay attention is exactly what CNN’s real customers demand. As any well-informed citizen should know, the real customers of large media companies are not the viewers; the real customers, the people responsible for most of the media’s revenues, are the advertisers.
Pandora’s Promise has offered the network the opportunity to generate some heated debate already, with episodes like the Piers Morgan Show discussion between Robert Stone and Robert Kennedy and the Crossfire episode with Michael Shellenberger and Ralph Nader. I hope that the network programmers milk those great properties by repeated showings and perhaps some well promoted YouTube releases.
Here’s another show suggestion for CNN: I volunteer to go head to head on Crossfire with Dr. Ed Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Here’s the twist that should make the show interesting — I think my position qualifies as being “on the left” while Lyman, who works for an “environmental” organization, is promoting ideas that seem to qualify him as the guy “on the right.”