CNN’s Election Gadgets Fail It Once Again…

It seems like this is now a CNN tradition: Have election coverage…trot out some new stupid gadgetry which isn’t necessary…watch it not work right while on the air. CNN has done it every election to the point that it now has built up a reputation as a laughing stock for being so single mindedly oblivious to the fact that in some circles it gets more attention for its election gadgets screwing up than it does for its election coverage itself.

This development isn’t lost on its talent apparently. Last night I watched as several CNNers, especially Anderson Cooper, openly took jabs at their own network’s technological obsession. The talent gets what’s happening here and how it impacts the network’s reputation. CNN’s executive staff? Not so much apparently because it has shown no inclination to take a timeout and reassess its course of action. How many times does the network need to wipe egg off its face before someone finally takes action? We don’t know.

Newscast Studio’s Dak Dillon weighs in

Then finally, the wheels came off the gadget and gizmo laden coverage. Anderson Cooper and Ali Velshi were at the Social Media Screen:

“Again with the social media screen? This is the third hit and I still don’t understand what the hell this thing shows!”

In one quick quip, Cooper explained what many viewers also probably thought.

Why does it take so many gadgets and magic walls to explain an election? Why does it take 4 touch screens? Why can MSNBC do it with one? How did pundits and analysis ever calls elections 12 years ago?

What technology did they use? A whiteboard!

The Huffington Post’s Jack Mirkinson took a similar tone

CNN has become famous (or infamous) for hauling out a bevy of touchscreens, magic walls, computer simulations and — in its most notorious move — even holograms of its own reporters. On Tuesday night, Wolf Blitzer proudly unveiled the network’s newest way to explain how a caucus actually works: a group of small, faceless CGI blobs that Cooper called “Weebles” in a reference to the egg-shaped children’s toys.

Cooper seemed two seconds away from rolling his eyes at any moment. As Blitzer finished up his tour of the blobs and their movements, he said, “If you miss any of this you can see it later on ‘The Daily Show’ with Jon Stewart when he ruthlessly mocks you.”

Mediaite’s Frances Martel also chimes in regarding CNN’s election tech failures…

As Erin Burnett tried to explain a pie chart showing the way voters had veered related to what they considered the most important issue, using her new Magic Wall move, “the flick.” The “flick” somehow did not get the pie chart onto the second screen as attempted until the third try, by which Burnett and Gloria Borger were cracking up.

Anderson Cooper seemed to sense that all was lost and asked, “have we all just given up?” to which Ali Velshi responded “it is evident from the social media screen that people are going to sleep.” For no apparent reason, this made Cooper explode in laughter. “Again with the social media screen? This is the third hit and I still don’t understand what the hell this thing shows!” Velshi then tried to explain– but not before telling Roland Martin to stop laughing. It didn’t really seem to stop him– or anyone else on the set– from laughing.

Martel has it wrong. This isn’t “delightful”. This isn’t funny. Not anymore. It’s sad. It’s sad to see a major network so obsessed with trivial and unnecessary things like election bells and whistles put such a priority on those bells and whistles that they appear to be more important than the election coverage itself. It’s sad to see the poor talent, at the mercy of their network’s obsession, get hung out to dry election after election by technology that doesn’t work right. Keep it simple stupid.


21 Responses to “CNN’s Election Gadgets Fail It Once Again…”

  1. I agree that the gadgets are stupid, but it was hilarious.

  2. Using the ‘Weebles’ to show the early caucus arrivers from the late comers was certainly mock-worthy as was the ‘flip’ gadget that Erin was forced to use. At some point CNN bosses will have to stop the madness as they are now going from looking incompetent to looking like clowns.

    MSNBC seems to have dialed back on the gadget use; although Chuck Todd’s I-pad apt seemed pretty useless even when it worked.

    To their credit FNC held off on the gimmicks; although I didn’t see much of their coverage so may have missed their gadgets.

  3. The un-gee whiz response had definite redeeming qualities. Of course, the best part of the coverage was two old ladies on the phone, which is about as “2012 whiteboard” as you can get.

  4. FNC had one touch screen and 3D graphics showing entrance polls. Both things worked pretty well.

    FNC also had John Roberts at a screen talking with a guy from Google. The info was much more useful and interesting than whatever Ali Velshi was talking about.

  5. FNC also was gobsmackingly boring. I can’t quite put my finger on what made it so dull, but dull it was.

  6. I never did get the point of tracking tweets. Big Cablenews is Watching?

  7. All CNN needed to make the evening complete was Ed Ames and a tomahawk.

  8. ^ I’m stealing that line, and you can’t stop me.

  9. lonestar77 Says:

    CNN just has way too much going everytime they cover elections. They’re trying to be new & cool with all their stupid gadgets but they never quite learn how to use the ones they have before bringing in a new one. And, who cares about the stuff Ali Velshi does? So, 1000 people mentioned Ron Paul on twitter. I doubt there’s a single viewer who cares. They try too hard to bring in younger viewers. CNN is the 45 year-old guy wearing skinny jeans.

    Also, they have way too many people on their multiple panels.

  10. Joe, there was not enough interaction among panel members in my opinion. That, and Shep wasn’t a part of it. I think he should be, even though he anchors for the network on the night of the general election.

  11. This was the funniest election coverage show i had seen in my life, and I’m over 50! First there was A.C. for pointing out all the humor points of the show,that I am sure everybody else in the country noticed and laughed also, We had the “Weebles Wobles To The Whitehouse” ,wow looked as if I was watching a saturday morning cartoon with my grandson?Then we had the video screen with” let’s listen in ” to nothing but utter silence but thank god for A.C. who mocked with voice over quip”we have coffee in the back room” what a breakthrough,you can’t make this stuff up! Oh and let’s not leave out Ali V. with the WTF for twitter board,at 2 in the morning Ali you don’t need to check the board to know that I’m sleeping, next I expect to see the morning paper with “Ron Paul Wins The Tweet Name Mentioning Catagory By Landslide” Someone needs to tell CNN to ” Carefully Drop The Board And Take Two Steps Back” and nobody get’s hurt…..and go back to your Desk!! It was a Classic comedy!

  12. Having giggle-worthy haywire gadgets on CNN and a Romney staff Occupy rally behind Carl Cameron on FNC made the boring Iowa caucus coverage into something worth watching.

    Yes, it’s bad form but I hope CNN execs maintain their deaf ear. I like “funny”.

  13. harry1420 Says:

    hmmmm i think everyone expected the fnc/r nc network to win…i mean fnc is the official campaign headquarters for the r n c..

  14. Harry, keep the change.

  15. Bret Baier and Megyn Kelly have gotta do something about the self-satisfied smirks. Yes, you’re rich and beautiful. Now put a lid on it.

  16. Looked to me that they were having fun. Some people enjoy that… mostly conservatives, apparently.

  17. Joeremi, I’m with you, the gadgets are hokey but it ended up being really funny last night. The best part was that it allowed Anderson Cooper to be the standup comedian – he was on fire even if he was mocking his own network and co-workers. By the way, your comment about Baier and Kelly could apply to Burnett as well. I read some comment last night that referred to her as CNN’s cute girl. That summed it up.

  18. ^ That was me, Elle, who called Miss Burnett “cute chick”. Was not intended to disparage… was simply up too late after a long and messy ER shift.

  19. I enjoyed watching AC and his colleagues making fun of the gadgetry and themselves tonight on AC360. Their charge is to accurately inform while getting as many eyeballs watching as possible. It didn’t hurt the accuracy of their coverage so I don’t see anything wrong with the little bit of entertainment value they mixed in.

    What’s the big deal? It’s not as though CNN stooped so low as to have Anderson Cooper in an on-camera conversation with some chick only in her bra.

    James Earl Jones: “Is THIS CNN?”

  20. Some types of gadgetry are better-suited for public display.

  21. Sure Fire…

    […]CNN’s Election Gadgets Fail It Once Again… « Inside Cable News[…]…

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