Rental rooms at the House of Cards


   Frank Underwood might lose his upcoming election, but he definitely already won the heart of his nation, which extended far beyond the U.S.  One of the best political drama series in recent years, not only used a good writing, directing, acting and other technical issues, but also tried  to base its narrative on the reality of the political world. No need to mention that it played an important role to change the online entertainment industry.

            Like any real political story, Journalists and media played an important role in this one too, and it has already raised the question of  why almost all of the journalists who portrayed in this story are so bad at their job? We can argue about the fairness of the image of journalists in this show. We all know that some of us did those mistakes, and I think it is fair to say the image of Journalism in the show is not a whole truth. But at the end, it is a fictional story and we have to recognize and respect the creative license for the creators of this show. Such presentation may damage the image of journalists, but at the same time the real damages already done by professional journalist themselves.

            It has not been a new thing that some Journalists play as their real personality in TV (In this case Netflix) series or movies. Few seconds of news with real anchor who read a few lines of fake story for the sake of a special scene of the movie.

            There is a good argument for doing that. People watch the movie and in the background for few seconds see a real anchor or reporter. This is not harmful and maybe help some people getting interested to follow that journalist in the real world.

 But in House of Cards this kind of appearance went into a whole new level, which could make a real damage the credibility of TV journalists who appeared as themselves in the show.

            During three seasons of “House of Cards” dozens of journalists appeared in the show and they didn’t just read a few lines of fake news. They engaged as a part of the story and most of the times they helped the plot. In other word they consciously show that how they – the journalists – could be manipulated by politicians and served their agenda.

            In the 2nd season, CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield hosted a (fake) live interview with Claire Underwood. This interview happened during quarantine of the Capitol and what was the focus of the interview? It was about personal life of second lady. It didn’t stop there. Claire Underwood used this opportunity to cook a false story and used CNN to change the facts for her political purpose. She said the best kind of lies. The lie which is mixed with some truth. This was a part of the story and it was OK if some actress would have played the role of fictional journalist. But Ashleigh Banfield played as herself and audiences of the show saw how easily someone can manipulate her. Why anyone should watch her real news segment on CNN and trust her anymore? She agreed to that scenario and presents herself in such a way. She – at the show – didn’t care about important questions, she didn’t care about fact checking, she didn’t care about the timing of her program and the only thing she said at the end of the interview was “It is going to make waves like you never imagined.” So the waves are more important than any fact.


            In the third season Jon King hosted the primary presidential debate. Again he played as himself under the logo of CNN and demonstrated how politicians could use a moderator to take over the control of a debate in order to execute their own plans. And again he was well informed about the story and chose to play his own role. Why should we ever trust him as a debate moderator again?

            Many of respected and well known anchors and reporters – probably happily – joined the show and passionately debated fake debates. Most of the time they showed how vulnerable and week they were in their job and how they helped politicians and being misused.

            Maybe such appearances help them to improve their position in the world of celebrities and public fame. But it is harmful for what journalism is standing for. This kind of cooperation just benefits the fake shows and their creators who wanted stories become more believable and grasp more audiences. They provide some rental rooms for TV journalists, but at a very high price.

The show will end and the house of cards will fall and those rental rooms will be destroyed along with that ramshackle house. The question is does it really worth for journalists to risk their public trust?

Pouria Nazemi

For Persian version of this review click here.

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