Of all the isms and ologys in the world, one of the most flaky is astrology. It has been denounced, discredited and declared dead by scientists—but not by CNN. Or, at least, not by everyone at CNN.
Network newscasters rarely mention astrology, so when I saw a CNN anchor take an astrologer seriously, I was jarred.
Despite the widespread debunking of astrology, many Americans believe in the pseudoscience; one in four, according to the Pew Research Center. And many Americans believe in ghosts, extraterrestrials and other nonsense. But professional journalists?
On CNN’s 3 p.m. newscast, Jan. 14–according to a CNN transcript–the anchor, Brooke Baldwin, said:
”Coming up next, a story everybody is talking about today. [Everyone?] You perhaps always considered yourself a Gemini, perhaps a Cancer. Now I’m a Gemini. I don’t know what is going on. Maxine Taylor hopefully knows. [Let us hope anchors learn how to use hopefully correctly—and then not use it at all.] She is our [our?] astrologer, and we’ll talk to her and get to the bottom of this, next.”
Then the so-called interview:
BALDWIN: Now this — is this the dawning of the age of — this is so tough to pronounce, Maxine Taylor, Ophiuchus, the third sign? We’ll go there in a minute. I knew I’d botch that. The Internet is buzzing over the realignment of the stars, and it supposedly adds this 13th sign to the zodiac. Suddenly ‘what is your sign’ is taking on a whole new meaning. Thought you were Libra, you may be Virgo, perhaps this new sign I can’t pronounce altogether. Maxine Taylor is an astrologer and here to walk me through what all of this means. The whole thing started because of this newspaper interview with an astrology [astronomy!] professor who says the wobble of the earth and the orbit just changed everything a little bit. People are so upset about this. Are you buying this?
MAXINE TAYLOR, ASTROLOGER: Not at all.
TAYLOR: First of all, he is an astronomer, and sqathat explains everything to me, thank you very much. [Astronomers deal with facts; they don’t promote superstition.]
BALDWIN: Oh, burned.
TAYLOR: What it is, bottom line, every few years somebody says, oh, there’s a 13th sign. Well, you’ve met him at the cocktail lounge.
TAYLOR: Seriously, there are 12 signs. There have always been 12 signs. Let’s talk about the fact that some people are worried they’re being bumped back a sign.
BALDWIN: People are worried they’ve got like [got like? I no like.] their Sagittarius tattoos or Cancer posters and it’s your self-identity for people into this kind of thing, and they’re perturbed.
TAYLOR: Very perturbed. Here’s what it is. Years and years ago, thousands of years ago the zodiac was discovered. We use that zodiac. It’s called the tropical zodiac. This is what astrologers use. There is another zodiac that some astrologers use as well. It’s called the sidereal zodiac, and that deals with the constellations rather than the signs. Because of the precession of the equinox, you’ll have to Google that one.
BALDWIN: Oh, goodness.
TAYLOR: What this means is there are two. Bottom line, they both work for the people who use them. Most of the world uses the tropical. And what that means is that you will be, if you are born a Cancerian, you will be a Cancerian until you leave.
BALDWIN: This is your line of work. You have people coming to your home. You have a website. Have you been, you know, is your phone ringing off the hook from people worried?
TAYLOR: I’ve been inundated with e-mails particularly on Facebook, and yes, people are concerned, because, as I said, every five, ten years somebody rediscovers the fact that there are two zodiacs. Hello. They’ve been around.
BALDWIN: Are you surprised so many people are so bothered? I mean, the people that are shaking their heads at those of us who are so bothered by it.
TAYLOR: No, not at all.
BALDWIN: Horoscopes. Who knew they mattered. [They matter mightily; without them, I’d have nothing to write about today.]
TAYLOR: Nobody would change their sign. Would you change yours?
BALDWIN: I’m a Cancer. I’ve taken Cancer on as my sign. I can’t imagine being a Gemini.
TAYLOR: I am a Gemini. That’s why I’m able to talk like this. I wouldn’t want to be a Taurus. Nothing against Taurus. If you’re a Leo, you like being a Leo. If you’re a Sag, you like that. You don’t want to bounce back.
BALDWIN: So bottom line, people shouldn’t buy the hoopla about the 13th sign I can’t even pronounce.
TAYLOR: Not at all. And I can’t pronounce it either. This, too, will move along. Tomorrow there will be more news.
BALDWIN: There will be more news.
Almost two years ago, Brooke Baldwin “interviewed” the same Atlanta astrologer. On CNN’s 11 a.m. newscast, Feb. 6, 2009, the anchor Tony Harris introduced the segment by saying (according to a CNN transcript):
“These financial tough times prompting people to seek advice in unusual places. Some even looking to some celestial bodies. Our Brooke Baldwin explains.”
Excerpts from that “interview”:
BALDWIN (on camera): Have you ever been wrong?
BALDWIN (voice-over): Only once, according to Maxine, and that was an accident. She says she tells it like it is. And in her 42-year career, so far, so good. [How does Brooke Baldwin know?]
TAYLOR: We are going to be having help with the economy this summer. [What kind of help? From whom?]
BALDWIN: That’s one prediction that might convince even the nonbelievers to watch for the planets and the stars to align. Brooke Baldwin, CNN, Atlanta.
The day after that “interview” ran, CNN’s noon newscast ran it again. Might make you wonder whether CNN stands for Celestial News Network. Unfortunately, astrology is still alive and sick.
© Mervin Block 2011