CNN Takes a First Step Away From Impartial Anchoring…

This morning E.D. Hill anchored CNN Saturday Morning. For those incapable of grasping the significance of this apparent watershed moment, it is the first time I can recall, certainly in recent memory (the past few years), that someone on CNN’s payroll in an opinion position has been put in the news anchor chair (Update: Hill may have appeared previously in the anchor chair on CNN but I don’t know if it was before or after she started appearing as an opinionated contributor). Hill had been featured previously in an opinion position on Parker Spitzer and, later, In the Arena with Spitzer. Hill gave opinions on various issues which by rights should have disqualified her from ever appearing in the chair on CNN. Remember, CNN is the network that regularly flaunts Jay Rosen’s “View from Nowhere” where nobody is allowed to take an opinion on anything controversial. Controversial opinions got Rick Sanchez fired. Controversial opinions got Octavia Nasr fired. Now here’s is Hill, who has in the past definitely taken positions on hot button issues on both CNN and FNC, anchoring a newscast. Talk about sending mixed messages.

I can imagine this development hasn’t gone down well in parts of Atlanta and New York amongst some of CNN’s seasoned journalists. And rightfully so. This is no different from MSNBC putting on its opinion people to anchor special events or having some of its journalists (read: Martin Bashir) straddle that razor thin line between opinion and straight news anchoring. It’s dangerous territory when you have a history and then take that baggage with you when you try to anchor straight news. It could wind up blowing up in your network’s face.

Yes, it’s New Years’ Eve and nobody’s watching. That’s beside the point. The point is CNN today has taken a first step away from impartial anchoring. Whether this was an aberration or the beginnings of a new direction, only time will tell…

Update: It took a bit of time to sort out but Hill did anchor CNN Newsroom, post-opinion contributor debut, prior to this weekend. The last time was on July 6th.

42 Responses to “CNN Takes a First Step Away From Impartial Anchoring…”

  1. I think she filled in on Newsroom a few times previously when she was newer to CNN.

  2. Doesn’t matter. The moment she started showing up as a contributor voicing opinions that should have been the end of her anchoring career at CNN.

  3. CNN should have used some from CNN I , they were using Natalie Allen Last week for 1pmET

  4. I was still up on the West Coast with Fox on, and when it went to Fox & Friends, I switched to CNN. “E.D. Hill? If I want FNC crap, I’ll watch FNC.” Which is what I did.

  5. I saw Hill anchoring not long after Spitzer left CNN.

  6. Anchoring dayside news?

  7. Hala ‘if you hear me’ Gorani was anchoring Newsroom one day last week in the morning.

  8. E.D. covered Spitzer’s slot before AC moved there. Not dayside.

  9. I didn’t watch but did she play it straight? She is an experienced reporter/news anchor so there’s a few possibilities of why CNN chose her, in no particular order:
    1. They want to forget all about Spitzer’s run as if it never happened, so she’s a hard-news journo now – They reject our reality and substitute their own.
    2. Whoever made the talent calls for this weekend just plain forgot that she’s given on-air opinions before. Oops.
    3. They’ve decided that their strict, ‘no opinions whatsoever’ rule doesn’t work for morning programmes and are relaxing that standard in hopes of acquiring a better market share.
    4. Perhaps they considered her time with Spitzer as “news analysis” instead of “opinion”. Yeah, that’s a stretch…

  10. starbroker Says:

    What a moment– CNN anchors spewing their opinions. WOW! So we should just ignore there 30 year history of their anchors spewing their left wing agenda on that network and now its some MOMENT?

  11. I don’t recall CNN news anchors “spewing” a left-wing agenda. Could argue that stories are more often reported from a (somewhat) liberal perspective, but that’s not the same as “opinion”.

  12. Good luck with that, Al. Star is in the “right is neutral, everything else is lefty bias” camp. Nothing to work with there.

  13. The idea that strongly opinionated people can keep those opinions from shading reporting or even anchoring has been and still is a sham. Can’t be done. The idea that a former “opinion person” will be less impartial than somebody else in anchoring is silly. It’s just easier to figure where they are coming from as they have laid their cards on the table in the past. Me, I’d rather know what opinions someone had while they were reporting the news. I’d like to know Don Lemon’s or a Peter Arnett’s opinions before I take what they report at face value.

    The fact so many are “registered independents” shows the game is a crock.

    “Why do you want to be a journalist, Bobby?”
    “I want to make the world a better place.”

  14. I had a poli-sci prof in college who taught right down the bloody centre. For us conservatives in is class he expertly coached our debate tactics from wherever on the spectrum we wanted to be and did the same for our liberal classmates. Didn’t realise until years later that he was a long-time Dem strategist.

    Point is, professionals who want to and aren’t too lazy can acknowledge their own biases, set them aside, and perform their jobs properly. And it isn’t all that hard to do, either.

  15. Yeah, I’m coming more and more to that conclusion. I personally don’t like E.D., but to pretend she can’t do a legitimate news report because she has actual political views, is ridiculous. Are there journalists who don’t lean one way or the other? Would you want a journalist that uninvolved in the process? Pfft..they all have beliefs.

  16. For some beats, it makes sense to me that keeping one’s personal beliefs under wraps is an advantage. An Ed Henry or Carl Cameron, for example, might not be able to develop sources on both sides of the aisle as the currently enjoy if their personal politics were well known.

  17. “Point is, professionals who want to and aren’t too lazy can acknowledge their own biases, set them aside, and perform their jobs properly. And it isn’t all that hard to do, either.”

    Heard that preached for years. Never did buy it. Never will. Intellectual gobbledygook.

  18. Lawyers do it every day.

  19. Apples and Oranges, doc.

  20. Maybe so…

  21. To say CNN has taken a first step from impartial reporting is a little dishonest since they took that step 30yrs ago.

  22. I didn’t say “impartial reporting” however…

  23. Spud, yes, I saw ED anchoring CNN Newsroom a few months back. I thought it was odd and even brought it up on a Free For All thread.

  24. It was during the week, not on a weekend.

  25. It was back in July:

    “Spotted: E.D. Hill, anchoring CNN Newsroom. Hmm. Does the cancellation on In The Arena mean E.D. will take on a new role at CNN?”

    Scroll down a while to see my comment. It was not in a free for all but in a post about CNN’s prime overhaul.

  26. I didn’t see her show but can I assume it was mostly bipartisan coverage of the political stories?

    If so it’s no big deal; at least for me. After all Eliot Spitzer had his own named ‘opinion’ show on primetime and that would seem to be a bigger step into the world of opinion journalism.

  27. This is no different from MSNBC putting on its opinion people to anchor special events

    I disagree with that analogy or comparison. This is hugely different and less troubling than having opinion people report live news events.

    That’s if I have a key issue right.

    In the Hill/CNN matter we have her reading the news put together by others, i.e., a professional and objective news staff. Although I don’t know it for certain (be interesting to find out), I doubt she was involved at all in the selection, editing, vetting or writing of the news. She passively read the news that others put together. She was in essence what the British call a “news reader”.

    Again, that may be wrong here; if so, if she was involved in the news process and not just reading it, then my most of my distinction between this and MSBC falls apart. Most, not all.

    When MSNBC has its opinion people cover live news events they are actively involved in producing the news. They interview people with sometimes clearly tendentious questions, they respond to people sometimes in a mocking way and they give their views during the entire process. They’re not disseminating a news product put together by others. They’re actively involved in producing that product. They’re not “news readers” they’re “news shapers”.

    If Hill simply read the teleprompter and wasn’t involved in producing the news it is an appearance – and only an appearance – of partiality. If she was actively involved in producing the news it was more.

    Briefer me: appearance-wise this looks bad; news-wise not so much. I’m more concerned with the content of the news then the person delivering it.

    Ugh, sorry for the length of this. Nobody wants to read all this.

  28. Double ugh. Never mind.

    Let me go back: I misread the story. Hill was anchoring the news and not just reading news items or just being directed by others. She was asking questions and was much more involved in the news product than I posted above.

    Yeah, that’s closer to what MSNBC does – not entirely but too close – to be kosher.

    Spud’s right again and we’re wrong.

    Hate that when it happens.

  29. Concede for yourself, buster.

  30. ‘Twas the royal “we”, Larry.

    I’m related to the, er, Sultan of Mumbai. Yeah, that’s it.

    Anyway, it’s interesting that newsrooms focus on every type of diversity except the, or one of the, most important ones: ideological.

    Universities too.

    Just an oversight on their part, I’m sure.

  31. It could just be that she was the only person available this weekend. I mean, Fox & Friends has been scraping the barrel the last few days.

  32. — only person available —

    There’s a thread-nulling brilliance to that observation.

  33. Fox & Friends has been scraping the barrel the last few days.

    Clearly. Yesterday some old guy was co-hosting, and started the morning by saying how great Ainsley looked. You’re old enough to ber her father. Shut up.

  34. “Some old guy” was Mike Jerrick, former co-host of F&FW and The Morning Show with Mike & Juliet, and is the current co-host of Good Day Phildelphia. He’s quite funny at times.

  35. old people are creepy.

  36. missy5537 Says:

    I agree w/Joe re: Jerrick. I remember him, years ago, talking about coloring his hair. TMI – if a guy does this, I don’t want to know about it.

  37. Once again, Joe is trying to pick a fight – and failing at his attempts to punch upward. You have no idea how old either of us is, which is barely older than the woman in question.

    The reason we think it was a case of Fox scraping the bottom of the barrel is that she was yanked from that very position after only 6 months and that was probably because she’s not particularly good at it. So, to put her back there – even during a dead week between major holidays when most of the country is off work – there must be a lack of other choices.

  38. harry1420 Says:

    god bless people get a frickin life. she’s reading a teleprompter for god’s sake.

  39. Boogie, I think Joe was attacking Jerrick, not you two.

  40. Anyone who can’t tell who I was talking about needs a reading lesson.

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  42. ^ My apologies to Cheech and Chong. But it’s cool anyways, man.

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