NEW YORK — Tormented by almost around-the-clock coverage regarding the impending fiscal cliff, scores of CNN viewers have begun throwing themselves off actual cliffs.
From the instant that Obama won reelection, CNN began pushing stories about the fiscal cliff, a potentially cataclysmic situation the United States will face January 1 if Congress doesn’t come to a budget agreement before then.
“Twenty-four hour news networks, like nature, abhor a vacuum,” said noted media analyst Wilfred Bunting. “And after Obama won, CNN needed to fill that void with another big story, hence the fiscal cliff hysteria.”
For the most part, the jumps seem to be spontaneous acts. “There have been numerous reports of drivers pulling off to the side of the road and exclaiming, ‘YAHHHHH! FISCAL CLIFF! FISCAL CLIFF! I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!’ and then pulling a ‘Thelma and Louis’,” Bunting said.
Jennifer Ashley, a devoted CNN viewer, said, “I hate to say this, but thank God David Petraeus got caught having an affair. If not for that, it would have been ‘all cliff, all the time’ and I’m sure I would’ve thrown myself off one, too.”
People living in coastal states make up the largest number of victims, followed by those in the mountain states. People in Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa have not reported any incidents.
Ironically, obesity seems to be saving lives, in this case. “If you have to climb up a cliff in order to toss yourself off, that seems to be an inhibiting factor,” Bunting said.
While all-news networks are known for saturation coverage of many events, there are a few factors that make this story particularly ripe for viewers offing themselves, according to Bunting.
“First, there’s the similarity in terms makes people associate ‘fiscal cliff’ with ‘physical cliff.’ Also, viewers know that Congress is going to wait until the very last minute to resolve this, so that means they’re in for over another month of relentless coverage.”
CNN isn’t the only network reporting heavily on the upcoming financial crisis, but it’s the cause of a disproportionate amount of the incidents.
“There’s something about the monotonous drone of Wolf Blitzer’s voice which really makes people lose it,” said Bunting.