Mark Whitaker’s Victory Lap

CNN Worldwide Executive Vice President and Managing Editor Mark Whitaker takes to the pages of to…uh…talk about how good his network’s election night coverage was…

A lot has been written about how cable news has become increasingly dominated by talk and opinion, because that’s what drives TV ratings. But as we began our planning for Election Night more than a year ago, CNN decided to go in the opposite direction and double down on our strength: reporting.

We pared back on the number of analysts in our studio and sent more reporters into the field. We invested in new state-of-the-art sets in our Washington bureau that allowed us to display electoral data more clearly and vividly than we ever had before.

We relied on two anchors, Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper, who have always been more interested in conducting great correspondents than being soloists themselves. We asked our incomparable international reporters to keep track of what the rest of the world was saying about America’s vote—and we actually put them on our U.S. airwaves to talk about it.

We did it because we value facts more than opinions, but also because these days that’s what sets CNN apart. And we were glad to see that, for this historical night at least, it was what the public appeared to crave as well.

An average of more than 8.8 million viewers watched the evening’s coverage on our U.S. network, more than any other cable news network, and others followed it on CNN’s international networks around the world. The reviews are also in, and they tell us that our investment in covering the election as journalists was welcomed. “CNN Destroys Cable Competition on Election Night,” was only one gratifying headline, on a post by Erik Wemple, the media critic for The Washington Post.

Yeah, well CNN still had too much analysis from pundits on election night. Worse, the next morning the network went off the talking head pundit deep end; first with Soledad O’Brien, which was to be expected since that’s what she essentially does on CNN now, but then followed by Kate Bolduan and Joe Johns and their own pundit freak show which was neither expected nor desired. In total, CNN had between seven to eight hours of pundit programming after Midnight PST Wednesday.

CNN isn’t squeaky clean on the overuse of pundits Mark. Not by a long shot…


6 Responses to “Mark Whitaker’s Victory Lap”

  1. I did switch to see how CNN was covering the election. FNC’s coverage was lousy.

  2. “Yeah, well CNN still had too much analysis from pundits on election night.”

    ^^I think CNN did improve it’s election pundit coverage this time; mostly by subtraction. Gone were the multiple tables on different levels of what seemed like dozens of pundits all competing for air time. In my view this year was a big improvement.

  3. That’s like comparing dog crap to elephant crap….you’re metric is entirely based on how much crap there is not whether there should be crap in the first place.

  4. “not whether there should be crap in the first place.”

    ^^ So your point is there should be little or no pundits doing election analysis? That seems a bit of an overreaction.

    I have no problem with 3,4 or even 6 pundits giving their opinions of what’s happening. I just don’t think you need 20 or 30. Your idea of little or no analysis would make the network like CSPAN.

    Well maybe that’s not such a bad idea; it’s just not for me.

  5. I saw the first hour of Soledad’s pundit table. It was a lot more interesting than the earlier “let’s look at the wall, then quote the campaign’s statements” coverage.

  6. CNN’s coverage was boring and horribly outdated.

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