BREAKING: Olympics Opened Hours Ago

Why the hell is CNN---which purports to be a news organization---pretending that NBC is live casting the Olympics?

I doubt it comes as any surprise to the intelligent sort of folks who read this here blog but, even though it’s roughly 8:30 Eastern time as I write this, it’s already 1:30 tomorrow morning in London, England. Freaky, right?

I mention this because I just got a CNN Breaking News alert telling me that “Queen Elizabeth II declared open the London Games, and the Olympic cauldron was lit at the opening ceremony by seven promising young British athletes.” Which, I gather from my Twitter feed, she had: On NBC.

But here’s the thing: My Twitter feed also revealed the identical thing happening in London some five hours ago. Now, two things are possible: First, the Queen stayed up really, really late to re-enact the Opening Ceremonies for those of us in the Colonies. Second, NBC is tape delaying the event. Given that this is, to quote Vern Gosdin, not my first rodeo, I’m going with the seconnd.

So, why the hell is CNN—which purports to be a news organization—pretending that NBC is live casting the Olympics?

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Ernieyeball says:

    Because they think we are stupid?

  2. legion says:

    Because they’re paid to. This quaint concept of “informing people” about things that might be “newsworthy” is strictly secondary.

  3. Andy says:

    People still watch CNN? How quaint.

  4. Kenny says:

    They wanted to be accurate, rather than first?

  5. Just Me says:

    I wish they would just broadcast the stuff live, and if they must fill the hours of the evening with something while the UK sleeps, then do a recap of what happened earlier.

    I remember as a kid listening to stuff live as it happened on the radio and I don’t remember broadcasters pretending like things were happening live.

  6. Raoul says:

    After the health care decision who can blame them- maybe they will announce the opening retroactively.

  7. More to the point, how can something we all know was expected to happen today for several years be “breaking news”? I look forward to more CNN Breaking News, such as “Fall equinox arrives ” on September 22nd.

  8. Murray says:

    “So, why the hell is CNN—…—pretending that NBC is live casting the Olympics?”


    The interns who write CNN’s breaking news genuinely believed that what they were watching on NBC was not only live, but also breaking and newsworthy. (They also believe GB is an island a few miles off the coasts of New Jersey.)

  9. In 1980, the US beat the USSR during an afternoon game that was held in New York. But the game results were tightly held until ABC broadcast a tape during primetime that night. Word leaked out, of course, and we had the chance to watch Jim McKay introducing every segment with “if the US wins this match, it will be a major upset…”. Stupid. That was 1980…with cable and world wide streaming possibilities, that wouldn’t work today.

  10. James Joyner says:

    @John Peabody: They did the same thing a few Olympiads ago with the women’s gymnastics match, which was only very slightly delayed. Regardless, they cut it so that it looked like one of our gals, who had sprained her ankle, had our gold medal hopes riding on her and she managed to do it despite her pain. In fact, that was a complete fabrication and it was sewn up by the time she did her vault.

    But at least that was NBC hyping its own production for which it paid ungodly sums. I can get CNN tacitly agreeing not to send out breaking news alerts that would act as spoilers for the audience in terms of event outcomes. But to send out “breaking news” alerts hours after the fact, to coincide with the delayed NBC cast, is just bizarre.

  11. sam says:

    CNN engages in retroactive breaking news coverage.

  12. rudderpedals says:

    “Breaking News” is a good eye grabber. One of the cable news peddlars named a regular newsxast “Breaking News”. I suppose this is more of the usual commodification of words and phrases.

  13. This post reminded me that I could still watch the opening at 7:30 PM PST. The first annoyance was that with the time shift they still killed time for about a half your before the opening “began.” Then the actually thing was pretty boring. Or a slow start to someone with the internet refined attention span of a gnat. The expense of the effort was boggling though.

    It made me wonder if a future host will just say “screw it” and roll back the opening to a quick speech, a band, some flags, and a march. It might shave something off the five to six billion dollar cost to host.

    Well that, and true curmudgeon at this point, paring things back to the 1970’s sports list. No BMX

  14. James in LA says:

    And Florida went to Gore…

  15. I’m a slow learner, I’ve just gotten that I should check Twitter’s “trending” to find the good stuff.

    The story on Yi Siling was nice, but Aidan Burley and the opening being ‘Leftie multicultural c***’ was hilarious.

  16. al-Ameda says:

    So, why the hell is CNN—which purports to be a news organization—pretending that NBC is live casting the Olympics?

    What’s so great about this is that, normally news organizations are falling all over themselves to be the first to break a story. Now they’re asking us to pretend that the London Games are live at midnight London Time.

    Of course many news organizations are going to report event results throughout the day which means that I’m probably not going to bother with much of the Games. For example, if I hear on the afternoon news that our Basketball Team obliterated Sri Lanka 128-32 I’m probably not going to watch it (not that I would have watched that slaughter live anyway.)