Yesterday, when a CNN Politics page screamed the headline: “Rapper Drops Clinton For Sanders,” you'd be forgiven for thinking something moderately exciting had happened.
“Could they be talking about Jay Z?” we thought, wondering nosily how this would effect the mogul's marriage, when Beyonce is so fervently behind Hillary Clinton. Could it be about Kanye? He did, after all, photobomb that selfie that Kim Kardashian took with Clinton. That photo caused enough problems as it was; Yeezus ditching Hills for Bernie would be even more embarrassing. Or maybe — just maybe — Nicki Minaj had just publicly renounced Clinton, despite giving her a namecheck on that “Back Together” Robin Thicke track.
[jump] Wrong on all fronts, we're afraid. Once we'd started reading, a sense of lackluster disappointment set in as we realized that this story wasn't actually CNN devolving into their commonplace habit of reporting politics on a gleefully gossipy US Weekly level, it was them trying to make a serious story out of the abundant opinions of Lil B. The Berkeley native may carry some hefty weight on You Tube (60 million views) and Twitter (1.16 million followers), but we're pretty sure that level of popularity actually has a great deal more to do with quality of tracks and level of entertainment value, rather than any real political influence.
Weirdly, also, CNN's story came extremely late. Almost a month ago, Lil B had already made his opinions on Bernie vs Hillary crystal clear:
The CNN website article emerged yesterday, on the back of an appearance Lil B had just made on Brooke Baldwin's afternoon CNN show, in which she was careful to set up Lil B as basically the biggest rapper viewers had never heard of. The two spoke of his sphere of influence – “from the poorest of the poor, to the richest of the rich, to the middle class”, he noted — then got down to politics.
Lil B broke down why he was now a Bernie Sanders supporter with some solid points: “Bernie was a part of fighting against segregation,” he said. “That was something that really touched my heart, and I appreciate it, because most likely, I don't think that was cool for him to do back then, but he still marched. I also heard he was for free education, which makes me so happy because there's a lot of poor kids that… actually do wanna learn, but, just like health care, people are scared to go to the doctor because the bill will be so expensive. If there's free education, that will lower black-on-black crime.”
Here's the interview in full:
Plenty of valid points there, but we have to question how relevant this is on a major news channel. The truth is, a great many of the people who keep a close eye on Lil B, are teenagers who won't even be old enough to vote in 2016. We also doubt there are many Democratic delegates in the mix who are going to cast their nomination for a Presidential candidate, based on what Lil B — or any musician anywhere, for that matter — has to say about it publicly.
Lil B's appearance on CNN speaks more of how desperate things have become in the 24-hour news cycle than anything else. CNN has a tendency to go off on broad tangents to fill time and, when they're not playing with elaborate graphics and charts on gigantic touch screens, getting celebrities in to air their opinions is a relatively common go-to move. Of course, Lil B is entitled to speak his mind — he does so regularly enough — but to dress this story up like real, important news (a full 27 days after he voiced his opinion in the first place) is nonsense.
This interview was merely another example of passing air time and filling show space. We fully expect CNN to air gossip and music news now and again; but when they try and dress up their celebrity coverage as actual news, it's maddening. This was just another ratings grab on the back of a popular rapper — something the 24-hour news channels have been indulging in for years. Lil B's views are interesting, and we're sure they're valid for his many fans, but they probably serve more of a purpose on Twitter than they ever will on CNN.