Chyrons and Cable News: A Love Affair

In the fast-paced drama of the Trump administration, one of the main characters, cable news, has developed a love interest with chyrons. Chyrons are the banners that appear on the bottom of cable newscasts to  provide context for what is being shown or discussed. In the past, these small blurbs on the screen were nothing more than a title for the segment; however, cable news networks have developed a new fondness for chyrons.

Since the election of President Trump, the purpose of chyrons has shifted away from contextualization and towards fact-checking statements, highlighting blatant contradictions or providing real time responses to events unfolding around the world.

Some of the most interesting and, historically speaking, unorthodox chyrons are used directly to criticize the statements made by President Trump. For instance, MSNBC aired the following chyron in January when Donald Trump signed the MLK Day Presidential Proclamation in the same week that he referred to African nations as “shithole” countries: “Trump signs MLK Day Proclamation After Calling African Countries “S***hole” Nations.”

Some chyrons go as far as calling out the President as he spreads misinformation. In April of 2017, CNN aired a chyron saying “Trump: ‘I don’t support WikiLeaks’ (He loved it in 2016).”

These examples only scratch the surface of the trolling and snarkiness behind the chyrons used in cable news. In June of 2016, CNN aired a fact-checking chyron that said, “Trump: ‘I never said Japan should have nukes’ (he did)” and three months later the network pushed back against President Trump’s claims when they said “Trump: ‘Voters don’t care about seeing tax returns’” followed by a message underneath saying “Poll: 78% say Donald Trump should release his tax returns.”

More recently, MSNBC aired a chyron criticizing Trump’s response to Puerto Rico.

Due to the current state of American politics, cable news’ love for chyrons developed out of necessity. The Trump era requires near constant fact-checking to prevent the President from making statements that are patently false and further misleading the American people.

While the majority of these chyrons are used by left-leaning media sources like CNN and MSNBC, Fox News is not without their own efforts to make use of them. During the 2016 election, Fox News used a chyron that said, “A tale of two candidates… Hillary in hiding while Trump’s out on the trail.”

The evolved use of chyrons speaks to how we as Americans are digesting media in Trump’s America. Short and easy-to-read chyrons are have become a staple of news in the United States and furthers the fast-paced lifestyle we live. Chyrons provide the media with a mechanism to keep a President that repeatedly makes false assertions in check.

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