Archive for the CNN Category

Oh Please…

Posted in CNN on July 21, 2014 by icn2

Mediate’s Andrew Kirell puts his brain in park as he makes something out of nothing

In case you’re too lazy to un-mute the above Vine, Cuomo asked Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) to “shoot down” a theory about the missiles having potentially been used by the Ukrainian forces to take down MH17.

To his credit, Cuomo quickly noticed his own poor phrasing and said “Excuse the pun.”

Ugh. Seriously?

CNN’s MH17 Video Theatrics Denigrate a Tragedy

Posted in CNN on July 19, 2014 by icn2


CNN crossed a new low in cable news today. We all know that TV News in general and Cable News in particular loses control of its conscience and internal barometer regarding what’s appropriate and what is not when breaking news happens. But to even battle hardened jaded observers such as myself, my jaw dropped this time.

I was watching CNN Newsroom with Jim Sciutto and Poppy Harlow and something was a bit off about what I was seeing. Both Harlow and Sciutto had video wall backgrounds but they were both all gray. It took me a few minutes to realize what it was. It was video of the MH17 crash site looping over and over and over. In fact it wasn’t just being displayed in the video walls behind them but it was being displayed as a border when CNN went to a two shot.

I then rewound the DVR and found that during Fredricka Whitfield’s show they were showing the footage on small monitors behind her.


So here’s the news anchor talking and behind him is video of the crash site looping over and over again. To call this as being in bad taste just doesn’t seem to do justice to the visceral reaction I had to seeing it happen. There’s really no excuse for it. It’s a naked attempt at gratuitous sensationalism.

Look, I am not arguing against displaying images in times of tragedy. News has a duty to relay such images, within the bounds of taste of course. Nobody would complain about CNN going to a video only shot of the crash site, just as nobody would complain about someone looping footage of the Challenger explosion, or the Reagan assassination attempt, or the towers coming down on 9/11 (though after a while the networks did cut back severely in regards to airing such footage). It is how CNN is using that footage…it’s being used as the equivalent of decorative art…that’s the problem. When I first saw it I thought maybe I was seeing some sort of play on the scorched earth scenes in the first Matrix movie or maybe a video game.

But this wasn’t a movie or a game. It’s a scene from a real news event; an event where over a hundred people were murdered. But you can’t tell what’s going on because CNN has made it all but impossible to get any news value out of the bits of video that come through past the people on the screen. It’s a mood setter. Nothing more. It’s gratuitous and despicable.

Think I’m overhyping this? Let’s consider today’s CNN equivalent of those big breaking news events I mentioned earlier…




How would you feel if the news anchor was on the screen talking while the footage from any of these major news events looped over and over and over again?

Would you be okay with seeing the space shuttle blow up over and over again while some guy blocks out half the image? How about the Reagan assassination attempt? The towers coming down on 9/11?

Would you be okay with that or would you want to throw a brick through your screen?

So how could you possibly give a pass to what CNN did today?

What? You didn’t see bodies so it’s okay?

Anatomy of a Tweet…

Posted in CNN on July 17, 2014 by icn2

The Blaze’s Jason Howerton writes about a tweet that a CNN reporter deleted…

CNN international correspondent Diana Magnay called a group Israelis “scum” Thursday as she says the group was cheering as Israel continued its aggressive action against Gaza.

“Israelis on hill above Sderot cheer as bombs land on #gaza; threaten to ‘destroy our car if I say a word wrong’. Scum,” Magnay tweeted. She quickly deleted the controversial post.

The CNN reporter has been silent on Twitter ever since.

Howerton clearly read Magnay’s tweet one specific way as evidenced by the title of his story…

It’s No Mystery Why CNN Reporter Quickly Deleted Her Jaw-Dropping Tweet About Group of Israelis

It could be the way Howerton thinks it is. Or it could not. The “scum” remark could reference the fact that they threatened to destroy their car. We just don’t know. So I’m going to cut her some slack until we get definitive evidence pointing to one viewpoint or the other…

Testing, Testing…1, 2, 3….

Posted in CNN on July 16, 2014 by icn2

Politico’s Dylan Byers writes about a pilot shot by CNN. Pilots at CNN are a dime a dozen. When we get an actual show announcement I’ll start taking it more seriously…

CNN is testing out a new show with Alisyn Camerota, Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon, POLITICO has learned.

On Wednesday, the three anchors taped a pilot dubbed “The 10 o’clock Show,” based out of New York, network sources said. It’s not clear whether it would be a potential primetime 10 p.m. show.

Segments included one on the border crisis with “Crossfire” host S.E. Cupp and Democratic consultant Fernando Amandi and one called “Mean Tweets,” where the three anchors read mean tweets about themselves.

Rupert vs. Time Warner’s Board: Round 2?

Posted in CNN, HLN on July 16, 2014 by icn2

The New York Post’s Claire Atkinson and Richard Morgan write about a possible new offer for Time Warner…

“They’ll start working on the common shareholders to appeal to the Time Warner board,” said one executive familiar with Fox’s thinking. “I’m sure they have a very sophisticated plan.”

Fox and Time Warner have 11 major shareholders in common. Together they account for 38.4 percent of Time Warner’s outstanding shares and 42.7 percent of Fox’s. Among them are Capital Group, BlackRock, JPMorgan Chase and Vanguard.

“The question is how do these people want to do this trade? They are trading into themselves. At what price do these guys feel they got a good trade?” said one person familiar with discussions.

“We have no problem taking Rupert’s offer,” said Mario Gabelli, chief executive of Gamco. “Essentially his vision over the next 10 years is about the growth of the middle class in China. Smartphones are giving them access to content.”

Ironic to see Time Warner fend off a big media buy from Fox when over a decade ago Time Warner made a mega big media buy itself…AOL (ok, ok, it was really a merger). And we all know how that turned out…

Time Warner 1, Rupert Murdoch 0

Posted in CNN, HLN on July 16, 2014 by icn2

The New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin and Michael J. De La Merced write about Rupert Murdoch’s acquisition attempt being blown off by Time Warner…

The media giant 21st Century Fox, the empire run by Rupert Murdoch, made an $80 billion takeover bid in recent weeks for Time Warner Inc. but was rebuffed, people briefed on the matter said on Wednesday.

The bold approach could put Time Warner in play and might again ignite a reshaping of the media industry, prompting a new spate of mega-mergers among the nation’s largest entertainment companies.

And there’s this…

As part of the proposal to buy Time Warner, people briefed on the proposal said, 21st Century Fox indicated that it would sell CNN to head off potential antitrust concerns since Fox News competes directly with CNN. Putting CNN on the auction block would likely stir up a bidding war for the news channel; both CBS and ABC, a unit of the Walt Disney Company, have long been viewed as interested suitors.

Well…that would be interesting…not the least because of what it would mean for Jeff Zucker’s future at CNN Worldwide…but I think it would take a lot more than spinning off CNN to get a Fox acquisition of Time Warner to get past Anti Trust regulators…

Alisyn Camerota joins CNN…

Posted in CNN on July 14, 2014 by icn2

CNN announced this morning that Alisyn Camerota has joined the network as an anchor. OK, so who gets sacrificed to make room for her? The fact that a permanent position will not be announced for months is, I think, not an accident…


Veteran anchor and reporter Alisyn Camerota has joined CNN Worldwide as an anchor.  She begins today.  Camerota comes to CNN after 16 years at FOX News Channel, which she left in March.   

“I have been a fan of Alisyn’s for a very long time, and couldn’t be happier that she has agreed to come to CNN,” said Jeff Zucker, President, CNN Worldwide.  “She is not only a seasoned journalist with a great curiosity and passion for the news, but she has a presence on camera that I think is very hard to find.  I can’t wait to have her on the air at CNN.” 

Camerota will contribute to all programs across CNN.  A permanent role will be announced in the coming months. 

Continue reading

CNN Launches TV Everywhere App…

Posted in CNN on July 11, 2014 by icn2

Multichannel News’ Jeff Baumgartner writes about CNN’s new TV Everywhere app…

Built around a simulcast of the live CNN feed, CNNx also provides access to a rundown of topics previously covered and what’s coming up on-air, and on-demand access to the day’s current shows and those that ran the day prior. The VOD component of CNNx also lets authenticated users stream CNN’s “featured” longer-form, scripted programming and documentaries. CNNx complements that with deeper digital coverage of on-air news topics, such as articles, video clips, interviews, and photos. The app also carves out a discrete area alongside the bottom to present a news ticker that viewers would see on the primary CNN TV broadcast.

An overarching goal with CNNx is to “redefine the news experience for users,” said Michael Quigley, vice president, business development and multiplatform distribution at Turner Broadcasting.

For the national launch, CNNx now becomes the default TVE app for CNN on iPads and Web browsers. CNN is also looking to extend the CNNx experience to set-top boxes with integrated IP capabilities later this year, Quigley said.

Home Grown Reality TV?

Posted in CNN on July 11, 2014 by icn2

Capital New York’s Alex Weprin writes about Jeff Zucker’s long range plans for Reality TV…

Anthony Bourdain started the push with “Parts Unknown,” and Morgan Spurlock followed with “Inside Man.” John Walsh, Lisa Ling and Mike Rowe are joining them this year.

“That was a pretty concerted effort to use some folks who were established and who had a following, they are easier to market, easier to generate some attention for,” CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker told Capital earlier this week.

The strategy made sense for CNN as it sought to launch its unscripted lineup. The channel needed buzz for the new formats, and it wanted to lure loyal fans that each of the “names” had.

Still, as any regular viewer of CNN’s new unscripted competitors like Discovery, A&E and Travel Channel know, the biggest hits often come from talent that is developed, not bought. To that end, CNN intends to try and develop talent of its own to complement its roster of known names.

“I think going forward we would like to create some of our own [talent], and that is something you will probably see us try over the next year or two,” Zucker told Capital.

John Walsh Interview

Posted in CNN on July 8, 2014 by icn2

Capital New York’s Alex Weprin interviews John Walsh about his new CNN reality TV show.

One of the show’s strongest points of departure may be style of presentation. CNN signed Zero Point Zero Productions, the company behind Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown,” to produce the new show, alleviating some of the stress on Walsh, while also giving the program a unique visual and storytelling perspective.

Walsh said Monday that networks began talking to him as early as 2011, when “America’s Most Wanted” first faced cancellation on Fox.

“I was talking to ABC… about doing a pilot for them, to be a contributor, to be their ‘Special Justice Correspondent,’ appearing on Diane Sawyer, ‘Nightline,” ‘G.M.A.’” Walsh said. “That was a really flattering, phenomenal offer, but as I said, I am 68 years old, I am been on the road my entire life, living in hotels, now I have my first grandchild.”

The discussions with ABC and CNN followed a similar effort by Roger Ailes, the C.E.O. of Fox News and a friend of Walsh’s. When Fox canceled “America’s Most Wanted,” Walsh talked with Fox News about bringing the show to the cable channel, a fact reported at the time by the A.P.

Taking the Long View…

Posted in CNN, FNC, HLN, MSNBC, Ratings Related on June 30, 2014 by icn2

Bloomberg Businessweek’s Eric Chemi and Ariana Giorgi chart cable news by quarter going all the way back to 2001…when CNN was still #1

As the number of prime-time broadcast TV viewers has gone down, the number tuning into cable news has gone up. Fox has benefited. Its ratings have increased while those of its cable competitors, as a group, have mostly stayed flat. That’s a sign that the growth hasn’t come from other news networks but from viewers who had not previously been watching cable news. Nielsen’s data shows that the only other cable network to be No. 1 in its category for 50 straight quarters is, unsurprisingly, ESPN

Musical Studios…

Posted in CNN, HLN on June 27, 2014 by icn2

FTVLive is reporting that HLN will be taking over CNN’s studio space including its newest studio.

Meanwhile, CNN will get HLN’s former and much smaller studio and workspace. As FTVLive FIRST reported, CNN boss Jeff Zucker moved the Atlanta based shows, talent and most of the managers to New York.

Man, they better be working on building one hell of a studio for Newsroom in NYC otherwise this NYC move hurts CNN badly…

Desperation Throw?

Posted in CNN, FNC on June 26, 2014 by icn2

CNN Commentary writes about Crossfire taking a page out of FNC’s playbook by aping The Five…

CNN did something different with the struggling political debate program on Monday and Tuesday: all four Crossfire cohosts (SE Cupp, Newt Gingrich, Van Jones, and Stephanie Cutter) were all “in the Crossfire” – and there were no guests. As one person said to me in private, it was almost like CNN was trying to imitate Fox’s The Five, and see how it went for them.

Whether this was a ratings ploy to see if it would stick or not, that remains to be seen. If that’s the case, then I think it was poorly executed. How can you really expect to be able to tell if it will work, long-term, based off of two days? If it were an experiment, then it would make sense to do it for the entire week (maybe even two weeks?) – not just two days.

If CNN takes Crossfire and turns it into a Five clone, they should change the name of the show. Because it’s not Crossfire anymore.

Numbers Never Lie…Or Do They?

Posted in CNN, FNC on June 18, 2014 by icn2

TVNewser’s Jordan Chariton writes about CNN’s…ahem…creative accounting…behind making the boast that Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown is the #1 program in the Cable News demo. Yes, this story has the characteristics of a plant but that doesn’t mean it’s not accurate…

Bourdain’s just-completed third season, which ran from April 13 to June 8, averaged 386,000 A25-54 viewers over the eight Sunday premiere episodes.

The fine print (not all of it included in the ad) goes on to say that it’s a “blend” of viewer data including Live+7 day, Live+3 day and Live+ same-day viewership, in other words, a variety of DVR viewing. CNN says that’s enough to best even “The O’Reilly Factor,” the long-dominant cable news show, which averaged 356,000 A25-54 demo viewers in that period, using that same “blend.”

We’ll make our fine print, regular-size: O’Reilly’s total is for 37 programs, compared to Bourdain’s eight. And when the Live+ same-day measurement is used “O’Reilly Factor” averaged 344,000 demo viewers; the “The Kelly File” was next with 310,000, then “Parts Unknown” comes in third with 278,000. CNN reports. You decide.

Upfront Resistance…

Posted in CNN on June 18, 2014 by icn2

Variety’s Brian Steinberg writes that CNN is meeting resistance in its upfront pitches…

As CNN begins to hold upfront conversations, several ad buyers say the Time Warner-owned cable-news outlet is meeting with resistance. These buyers said CNN has historically been able to command high rates in the cost of reaching 1,000 viewers, a measure also known as a CPM that is central to the annual upfront market, when U.S. networks try to sell the bulk of their ad inventory for the coming season. In 2014, buyers say they are pushing back against the network’s initial terms.

Skepticism from buyers – a natural element of this yearly haggle – comes after CNN has reworked its positioning . The network, part of Time Warner’’s Turner unit, is relying more heavily in primetime on documentary series and during the rest of the day seeking out stories that help it stand apart from competitors, as it did when it followed the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

Doing so, however, has CNN veering slightly from the pitch it has long thrown to Madison Avenue: For years, CNN has portrayed itself as a high-quality source of straight news, one that ought to command a premium. And the network still inhabits that role. But with its ratings slipping over the long term, and a new emphasis being placed on what buyers view as “entertainment programming” for an hour of primetime, sponsors are pushing for a reworking of the relationship CNN has had with advertisers.

“I’m pretty confident they’ll have to make some adjustments in the market this year,” said one media-buying executive.

Second Guessing…

Posted in CNN on June 12, 2014 by icn2

The New York Times’ Bill Carter writes about CNN’s decision to interrupt the Eric Cantor loss coverage for tape…

Did CNN abdicate its commitment to breaking news Tuesday night when it broke away from live coverage of the primary election upset of Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, in favor of a special about the anniversary of the O. J. Simpson trial?

Not as CNN sees it. The network’s view is that it alone covered the Cantor news as it broke live. It pointed out on Wednesday that both Fox News and MSNBC were carrying their pretaped 8 p.m. shows, hosted by Bill O’Reilly on Fox and Chris Hayes on MSNBC, until several minutes past the hour.

CNN claimed to be first to suggest on the air that Mr. Cantor might lose to the Tea Party candidate, David Brat, when, at about 7:50 p.m., it began continuous coverage of the story. Both Fox News and MSNBC mentioned the Cantor race slightly later, Fox just before 8 and MSNBC at about 8:04.

The decision to switch to the Simpson documentary underscored CNN’s recent commitment to prerecorded programs in its 9 p.m. slot. After years of low ratings at that hour, CNN no longer has a regularly scheduled show with a regular host at 9. CNN executives have also said that the network is not in the business of heavy coverage of partisan political developments.

Oh baloney! Not in the business of heavy coverage of partisan political developments? First of all I’m not so sure this qualifes as a “partisan political development”. Second, what the heck was the network doing in the hour before and the hour after the Simpson special…airing home knitting DIY programming? And what does CNN do every election year? And what catchy name does CNN use to describe it’s political team?

Of course CNN blew it. They had this special which they put together. It was a topical special for that date in history so there was pressure to ensure that special aired that night. But the network blew it. Everyone was saying how this was the biggest political shock in decades…and CNN bailed out to run tape about sensational court cases.

This is the network that doted on and on about a cruise ship with dead toilets…the network that made a mockery of itself in how it wouldn’t (and really still hasn’t) let go of MH 370. And yet, despite going overboard on those stories, it could not stay on this story less than two hours after it broke?

Yes CNN, you blew it.

The End of HLN As We Know It?

Posted in CNN, HLN on June 10, 2014 by icn2

In a must read, Capital New York’s Alex Weprin writes about the possible end of HLN as we know it if Time Warner buys Vice…

If Vice were to gain control of HLN, the channel would almost certainly have to be unbundled from CNN. That could be messy, as pay-TV providers could seek to cut CNN’s carriage fee, or decline to carry HLN. If HLN were to continue to be bundled with CNN, Vice wouldn’t be able to capitalize on carriage fees, which would still be tied to CNN. All in all it would be a messy transaction.

What happens to HLN’s content?

If HLN is in the midst of a pivot, wouldn’t the Vice deal kill the pivot before it is even complete? HLN won’t have its new programming lineup ready til later this year, and even then it includes legacy shows hosted by talent like Dr. Drew and Nancy Grace. What would happen to HLN’s programming in the event of a Vice takeover? Would it stay on during the transition? Perhaps Vice would simply get a block of programming in the interim. Who knows.

I’ll go one further…what happens to certain HLN news talent? I’m thinking specifically of Robin Meade. This could force the issue, long speculated about by everyone and long favorited by FTVLive, of moving Meade over to CNN for mornings. I have never been a big proponent of such a move because I think Meade would be a bad fit for what CNN does in the mornings. But if Vice gets HLN, I have to believe Meade is CNN bound. Zucker would not want to let her go.

Everyone connected with New Day should be concerned. Very concerned. You all may have just been put on a clock.

Michael Wolff on Saving CNN…

Posted in CNN, MSNBC on June 8, 2014 by icn2

Michael Wolff pens a typically Wolffian article on CNN and cable news talent…

To an ever and ever greater degree, cable news is about sliver audiences — even Fox News averages only a million viewers a night — targeted to melodramatic or campy political sensibilities. In the case of CNN, which tries to rise above single-bore politics, its specialty is the melodramatic and campy news event— the ever-missing plane —that draws the ever-declining news audience.

This reflects a problem with the cable audience — it’s overly fixated, if not fetishistic.

But it may also reflect a problem with cable news talent.

The very idea of what we used to call a television broadcaster, charismatic and authoritative, has been lost — with, arguably, Barbara Walters, retiring last month at 84, being the last living example in America.

Oh please. First of all, while the theory that the idea of what we used to call a TV broadcaster has been lost is inarguably open to debate still (See: Smith, Shepard, Tapper, Jake, Holt, Lester, Sawyer, Diane, Lauer, Matt, Scott, Jon, etc..etc…), the notion that Barbara Walter resembled the last bastion of it is ludicrous on its face.

The nadir of television gravitas may be Ronan Farrow on MSNBC. He’s a third-rate movie plot: The child anchor, self-serious and mimicking the adults, finding himself, through happenstance and cynical television logic, embarrassingly on the air.

Ok…no argument there.

A corollary to this is that nobody wants to go on television to be interviewed anymore — and television news is an interview medium.

Uh huh…that’s why networks aren’t fighting over scoop interviews any more. Oh wait…they still are! Well at least the interviewees have now embraced their dislike of TV interviews and only interview in print now. Oh wait…they don’t!

Now ambitious television talent wants another job. The savvy want to be Anthony Bourdain. That’s the most frequent pitch in the business: To be the Anthony Bourdain of…heath, technology, art, war…fill in the blank.

Right…that’s why news talent has stopped fighting to get on national TV news shows. Huh? They haven’t?

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown is news for people who don’t want news. After all, cooking is his subject — arguably, a much more emotionally satisfying lens through which to see the world than the disconnection and anger of politics.

I’ll give Wolff 50% credit here for embracing Jeff Zucker’s vision – a vision that chooses to shift the discussion about what constitutes news rather than investing heavily into fixing what is currently a stagnant, boring, broken model that centers on exploiting political left/right divisions in this country. But in doing so, Wolf inadvertently touches on the real bane of cable news…cable news programming formats…and not a lack of quality talent available to do the job right.

In a sense, Bourdain is a throwback to that once-prevalent form, the magazine news show. Even in the heyday of television news, the talking head became stultifying and needed to be balanced by a larger, more dramatic and cinematic world. Hence, Dateline’s long run.

But the problem with magazine shows, and why they never made it in cable and, indeed, the problem with Bourdain’s show, is that they are expensive, whereas talking heads are not.

The Bourdain show has been a hit on CNN, and respite from the lost plane, but in order for it to make money for CNN, it has to be repeated many times, ideally, endlessly. CNN, in other words, has to become the Discovery Channel — and it is clearly trying to.

Ding, ding, ding…full marks to Wolff here…

As I say, this desire to restore CNN to some aspect of what it really never was and what, anyway, it is not going to be again — an assertive and authentic news source — continues against all logic.

Oh baloney…from 1980 through the mid 90′s CNN indeed was that assertive and authentic news source. CNN International to a great extent still is. CNN US is not. Not for the vast amount of programming it does unless a big story breaks.

But here is my suggestion.

Jeremy Paxman is the most famous broadcaster in Britain, a legendary interviewer and indomitable figure and, after many years, he has just, restlessly, left his job as the host of the BBC show Newsnight after 25 years. Yes, yes, there are the obvious dangers, after Morgan, of another English accent on CNN. A bad fumble, Piers. But Paxman is the real thing. What news needs, what it cannot coherently exist without, is authority. Two generations of cable news have pretty much wiped that out in America. So it probably has to be imported. With Paxman its withering authority. With vast superiority and haughtiness, which, of course, television executives undoubtedly believe will turn off an uncomprehending American audience.

On the other hand, some pitiless intelligence might be a cure. In contrast to Farrow and the gargoyles and the blah and the bland of cable, a figure like Paxman could be electrifying — please, find him on YouTube and send a note to CNN — and television news might seem quick, astute and knowing again.

I have nothing to say either for or against Paxman. But the idea that plugging Paxman into CNN, with its current perverted vision of what makes a good daily newscast and what constitutes news, is not going to do much other than corrupt Paxman and contort him to fit into the current paradigm. Until the paradigm changes, nobody you could name, living or dead, is going to be very successful at accomplishing what needs to be accomplished to make CNN that day in day out standard bearer of news again.


Posted in CNN on June 5, 2014 by icn2

In a must read, Reese Schonfeld takes to the Huffington Post to eviscerate Turner Networks, Jeff Zucker, and CNN. Yes, it does come off as rather self-serving and unlike Schonfeld I do not for one second believe Zucker’s head may already be on the chopping block and I would never EVER count Pat Buchanan as one of “the most important journalists of their time”, but it still has to sting for those who remember the CNN of old…

CNN’s CEO, Jeff Zucker, was appointed by Bewkes a year and a half ago. His presence has not improved CNN ratings. He was just finishing up as the Executive Producer of the failing Katie Couric show and previously had been ousted as the NBC boss when Comcast acquired the network. All too often, MBAs hire people who previously held important jobs but failed at them. They then of course blame the failure on the guy they hired and Zucker’s head may already be on the chopping block.

I built CNN for 12 months, and as CEO operated for the first 23 months of its on-the-air existence. When I left it had a rating of one point, the highest rating its ever had over a six month period. Twenty years later, in 2000, when I went down to help celebrate its 20th anniversary, its ratings were at half a point. Since then, they’ve been stuck around there, bailed out by big stories, if and when they occur. We had people on staff like Bernie Shaw, Pat Buchanan, Lou Dobbs, Jim Miklaszewski, Mary Alice Williams, Mike Boettcher, Peter Arnett, Elsa Klensch and Jean Carper. Every one of them, even those whose names you might not remember, were among the most important journalists of their time. There’s no one now at CNN in their league.

Phil Griffin, now the head of MSNBC, and Dan Patrick, the ESPN broadcaster/writer, both got their starts there under the best sports executive who ever lived, Bill MacPhail. Keith Olbermann was there too. It was a hell of a team. I hate to admit that I can’t remember the name of one of CNN’s current sports guys.

Over the past 14 years, first under Jim Walton and now Zucker, CNN has starred such personalities as Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper — both competent but neither a guy who has rating points and no one at CNN has introduced a new breakthrough program. CNN fails to thrive unless it’s live.

I believe that it will take a lot of news intelligence and creativity to turn CNN around. Cutting costs and firing guys will not do it.

Inside The Sixties Party…

Posted in CNN on June 4, 2014 by icn2

New York Daily News’ Kara Bloomgarden-Smoke writes about CNN’s party for it’s new The Sixties mini-series…

The schmaltz factor was high at the premiere party last Wednesday evening, the night before the network debut.

A crowd of media types, most of whom hadn’t been alive during the actual ’60s, gathered under the stars in Grand Central’s main concourse, pushing past confused commuters to get to Vanderbilt Hall. As the crowd grew, the overwhelmed event coordinators threw open the rope, not bothering to check the list. After all, there were retro cocktails and, because some things never change, thirsty people to drink them.

We almost tripped over the shag rug as we made our way to the buffet, which was piled high with plastic TV-dinner trays waiting to be filled with the cuisine of the era like beef stroganoff, green bean casserole with fried onion, and fried chicken. Another table featured shrimp cocktail, twice-baked potatoes and iceberg wedges.

Waiters in granny glasses brought around shots of Swedish meatballs and celery stuffed with pimento cheese. (“It’s really fun and easy to make,” one of them offered with Cold War-era neighborliness.)

“Now, I am sure there are some that wonder why we need a miniseries about the 1960s,” CNN President Jeff Zucker, who was born in 1965, told the crowd. “But the reality is that when you start to think about everything that happened in those 10 years, you realize how many questions remain unanswered and how much we have to learn from that decade of America’s own coming of age.”

News Reaches Page Six…Finally…

Posted in CNN on May 26, 2014 by icn2

Page Six has an uncredited story (and I’ll tell you why that is in a moment) on CNN talent woes…

Time to rename CNN Atlanta headquarters!

All the anchors are moving from Atlanta to New York, to be near boss and decision maker Jeff Zucker, sources tell us.

Oh really? Sources tell you, eh?

Earth to Page Six…this news has been out in the open since last Wednesday when Brooke Baldwin tweeted her move. Costello moving was already speculated upon by myself and others the next day and TVNewser confirmed it later in the day. And now you try to package this already broken story as some sort of new deal revealed by anonymous sources? No wonder this story went out uncredited. I wouldn’t want to have to attach my name to a “new story” that was in fact an old story.

Guh! (TM pending, Keith Olbermann)

I’d keep on slamming Page Six but they do manage to break some new ground, if their sources are reliable…which, given the lead in their piece, does cast a pall over the entire article…

The teams in Atlanta are desperate to find new formats to impress the top brass. The source told us, “We are feverishly trying to come up with something that Jeff likes. Every time we present something, he hates it. Secondly, we can’t find talent who wants to come to CNN. No one wants to come because we scrap things after a year. Every talent agency we contact can’t get us anyone . . . Even talent from larger local markets refuse to come here, ­because they are afraid.” Meanwhile, the source added, “Don Lemon is gunning for a prime-time spot, but Zucker isn’t sold.”

I don’t know about that. Zucker seems to be putting Lemon everywhere he can which is hardly a sign that he “isn’t sold”. But I do imagine that Bill Weir and the rumored primetime show clause in his contract is probably giving Zucker ulcers trying to reconcile the Lemon situation.

CNNI Changes

Posted in CNN on May 23, 2014 by icn2

TVNewser’s Merril Knox writes about some major changes to CNNI…

CNN International is making significant programming changes to its lineup, adding new primetime shows and expanding live programming. With the changes, the network is eliminating some jobs in Hong Kong and adding positions in other bureaus.

Among the major changes: the launch of “The World Right Now with Hala Gorani” and “The Business View with Nina dos Santos,” a new time slot and show format for “Connect the World with Becky Anderson,” and an expansion of live news programming for viewers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (more details are in CNN’s announcement, after the jump). CNN senior international correspondent Ivan Watson will also be relocating to Hong Kong.

TVNewser hears that about 20 off-air editorial positions have been cut in Hong Kong. A CNNI spokesperson tells us about two dozen positions will be added across the London, Atlanta and Hong Kong bureaus, and those jobs will be posted as early as today.

CNN Ups Mark Preston…

Posted in CNN on May 23, 2014 by icn2

CNN announced this morning that Mark Preston had been promoted to Executive Editor of CNN Politics…

Mark Preston Promoted to Executive Editor, CNN Politics

Mark Preston has been named Executive Editor, CNN Politics, it was announced today by Sam Feist, CNN senior vice president and Washington bureau chief. In this role, Preston will take a lead in the conception and execution of the network’s political events, including debates. Preston will continue to serve as a political reporter covering campaigns, polling and political events across CNN platforms, including CNN, CNN International and He will also serve as the on-air analyst for CNN’s decision desk in the network’s upcoming election and primary coverage.

“Mark’s new role will put CNN in a terrific position heading into the mid-term elections and beyond,” Feist said. “Mark’s relationships in the political world are among the strongest in journalism and we look forward to Mark leveraging these connections as he organizes events and reports on the upcoming campaign.”
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Lights Out…

Posted in Al Jazeera, BBC World News, CNN on May 23, 2014 by icn2

The AP’s Amy Sawitta Lefevre writes about CNN, the BBC, and Al Jazeera being taken off the air in Thailand…

One of the first actions taken by the generals now running the country was to impose sweeping censorship across the media.

The crackdown on the media appeared to be more vigorous than after the last of Thailand’s frequent coups, in 2006, perhaps, according to some observers, due to greater opposition to the army’s action and a more defiant “blogosphere” online.

“Measures became more aggressive after the coup announcement and now critical opinions are not allowed to be published, broadcast or circulated,” said a television presenter at a state-run station, who declined to be named for fear of breaking the law. “The military have threatened prosecution for any defiance.”

Prayuth’s announcement was followed by bulletins from the army’s own channel, interspersed with patriotic martial music.

Radio and television stations were ordered to suspend normal programming and air only military broadcasts and official content. Media outlets that tried live streaming online through YouTube channels were soon closed.

The blackout extended to foreign broadcasters including CNN, the BBC and Aljazeera. By mid-afternoon on Friday, none were back on air.

Nice Suit…

Posted in CNN on May 22, 2014 by icn2

The New York Post’s Salim Algar writes about a discrimination lawsuit being filed by a terminated CNN employee about his sexual orientation and his wardrobe. A suit about a suit, if you will…

…yes, I just had to make that pun…

A gay ex-CNN staffer from Queens claims he was discriminated against and eventually fired for wearing extravagant ensembles that included mariachi suits, yellow track suits and cowboy hats to work.

In a $65 million Brooklyn federal lawsuit filed Thursday, former CNN studio technician William Kane claims that a supervisor, John Silva, hated his taste in clothes and recommended that he transfer to the makeup or entertainment units.

The ATL-NYC Migration Begins?

Posted in CNN on May 22, 2014 by icn2

CNN’s Brooke Baldwin tweeted the following yesterday…

“whatttt… we’re moving?!” ;) “@AnneClaireCNN congrats @BrookeBCNN on the big move to NYC– ATL will miss you dearly

It has been an open secret that Jeff Zucker has wanted to move talent from CNN’s Atlanta HQ to New York. What he realistically gains from such a move is kind of lost on me, especially given the currently known state of CNN NY’s studio availability for dayside broadcasts (see: The Legal View’s slightly, but not convincingly, gussied up location inside CNN NY’s newsroom). Baldwin appears to be the first ATL anchor to announce a move to NYC. Will Carol Costello be next? Costello has recently been bouncing around between ATL, NYC, and Washington D.C. a pattern which suggests she too is ultimately NYC bound.

Hopefully CNN will have a real set these ATL transplants can use…

Update: TVNewser’s Merril Knox confirmed this later on…

“Carol Costello and Brooke Baldwin will move to New York to anchor their weekday CNN Newsroom shows, beginning in August. There will be no other changes to those shows’ production team,” a CNN spokesperson told TVNewser. “Atlanta is, and always will be, a critical part of CNN Worldwide’s operations. It remains home to much of our programming and content, including the production for many of our shows, CNN’s worldwide newsgathering operations, CNN Digital, CNN International, CNN en Espanol, HLN and Newsource.”

And it also houses one of CNN’s most modern sets which the network poured a lot of money into. Now it is a set without a show though presumably some show…perhaps on CNNI or HLN…is going to use it going forward. Otherwise its construction will have been a colossal waste of money.

A CNN source tells us having the anchors in New York gives them more on-set guest opportunities.

Ok, yes…this is true. Being located in Atlanta does undercut CNN from getting guests as easily as it would if its news was airing from New York. Now, let us hope they will have a real set these guests can appear on.

Don Lemon Profile…

Posted in CNN on May 22, 2014 by icn2

The AP’s David Bauder profiles Don Lemon…

“I don’t always agree with you,” the person began, ominously. “But keep it up. I’m not always supposed to agree with you.”

Lemon could think of no sweeter compliment. The 48-year-old news anchor has attracted attention by adding his opinion to stories he’s telling. His bosses are rewarding him with more airtime, and his visibility has increased this spring through coverage of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane and other stories. He frequently hosts the 10 p.m. EDT news hour.

His decision to speak out traces directly to coming out publicly as gay in a memoir published three years ago.

Jeff Zucker Speaks…

Posted in CNN on May 20, 2014 by icn2

Capital New York’s Nicole Levy writes about a Jeff Zucker appearance last night at the Deadline Club’s annual awards dinner…

And will it cover the special committee hearings by House Republicans to probe the 2012 Benghazi embassy attack? Zucker told Carter he didn’t know yet.

“We’re not going to be shamed into it by others who have political beliefs that want to try to have temper tantrums to shame other news organizations into covering something,” he said. “If it’s of real news value, we’ll cover it.”

And then there’s this…

The CNN president characterized anchor Don Lemon’s proposal of the theory that a black hole had swallowed the plane—a moment that seemed to crystallize the absurdity of CNN’s coverage for critics—as a regrettable gaffe.

“He was being facetious, but it did not come off that way,” Zucker explained. “And he knows that if he could do it over again, he wouldn’t quite present it that way.”

Press Releases: 05/20/14

Posted in CNN on May 20, 2014 by icn2

CNN (1)

CNN and Smithsonian Affiliates Announce A LOOK INTO THE SIXTIES Exhibit to Open in New York’s Grand Central Terminal

11 Smithsonian Affiliates, additional world-class institutions, and private collections, including the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, bring the 1960s to life with artifacts from the Cold War, Civil Rights Movement, Woodstock, and more
Exhibit bows during the premiere week of CNN’s THE SIXTIES, which debuts May 29 at 9:00pmET and PT

CNN today announced A LOOK INTO THE SIXTIES, a special exhibit curated in cooperation with 11 Smithsonian-affiliated museums that will open to the public on Tuesday, May 27, at Vanderbilt Hall in New York City’s historic Grand Central Terminal. The exhibit, which celebrates the 1960s — an era of momentous change in America — coincides with the May 29 premiere of THE SIXTIES a new series for CNN, executive produced by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman.

“We are so pleased to be partnering with the Smithsonian and its Affiliates on this inspiring, evocative exhibition. Bringing the series to life through these artifacts adds a unique dimension to our storytelling, and will allow visitors to experience first-hand this look at the 10 dynamic, turbulent years that changed the world,” said Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide.
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Pile on CNN…

Posted in CNN on May 19, 2014 by icn2

Raw Story’s Scott Kaufman writes about what transpired on Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s StarTalk Radio Show when Miles O’Brien was on… (via J$)

On the latest episode of his StarTalk Radio Show, Neil DeGrasse Tyson spoke to former CNN science journalist Miles O’Brien about the failures of modern news reporting — particularly at CNN.

As the interview began, O’Brien joked that CNN fired the unit because they were ignorant of celebrity gossip. “After all, what do we know about the Kardashians?”

Ouch. Low Blow. But it gets worse…

“We’re in the boutique age of journalism. CNN is just the department store — the Wal-Mart of journalism,” O’Brien replied, “and think about what that does to quality. There is room for a Madison Avenue boutique, then, for people who care about things that are specific to them, and they will seek you out.”

“They will find you,” Tyson agreed. “They’ll find you.”


“We don’t need reporters,” O’Brien replied. “We can just read the tweets!” This, Tyson and O’Brien agreed, is the direction in which CNN is headed.

O’Brien hammered home this point by recounting a moment, late in his time at CNN, when he walked into his executive producers’ offices with a 2 minute and 30 second science piece and was told that the 24-hours a day, 7-days a week news channel “didn’t have the time” to air it.

“I’m sorry,” an astounded Tyson responded, “but you have all the time! You have all the time!”

So…uh…what’s the over/under on O’Brien showing up as a contributor again on CNN’s air anytime soon?

On the other hand if O’Brien has such disdain for what CNN is doing…why did he agree to be a contributor and appear on their air?


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