Spin Control…

Jeff Zucker gives a self-serving interview to the Guardian’s Jasper Jackson…

“We are covering the story, and he’s been the Republican frontrunner for almost a year now. I only wish that CNN had that much power to be able to create a frontrunner on either side … The critics of Donald Trump are looking for people to blame for his rise. There are many people who are either surprised by his strength, or don’t like him, and want to blame someone to explain why he has been this popular.”

Nice way to reframe the issue. Only an idiot is going to blame cable news in general for Trump’s rise. But that dodges the central question which Zucker does not want to answer…was CNN’s Trump coverage proportional to the front runner or over the top even by front runner standards?

And while critics have highlighted CNN’s wall-to-wall Trump coverage, filling the airwaves with what Zucker describes (along with the war on terror) as one of “two amazing stories in the world right now” fits the strategy he has pursued since taking over in 2013. “It used to be CNN and other television outlets were founded on this idea of a news wheel. You give us 22 minutes and we’ll give you the world. But that’s not the way people consume news and information any more. So on television we are going to go much deeper on the one, two or three stories of real significance or interest that day, and we are going to satisfy all your news needs and questions digitally.”

Translation: We are in it for the ratings and only the ratings. News doesn’t matter. We want your eyeballs and so we will stick to the three biggest water cooler stories of the day. You want news? Piss off to your computer or tablet…

The news wheel may or may not be dead but it’s not the reason why Zucker is doing this. And we know this is the case because of what CNNI covers. If going three stories deep at the expense of world news is the silver bullet Zucker makes it out to be, CNNI should be aping this model.

That CNNI still follows the news wheel says all you need to know about how “poeple consume news and information any more”.

What Zucker is really saying here:

Americans are stupid people. We are betting against you by giving you twaddle instead of news. We figure you’ll be more interested in watching stuff that distracts or entertains you over being actually informed. The rest of the world doesn’t operate by this standard which is why we have CNNI. But in this country, we want big ratings so that means cutting back on news and giving you Trump 24/7. And you suckers will go for it because you don’t know any better. We aren’t leading this revolution. We’re following you. And that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

The irony in all this: The Guardian is an international paper filled with readers who crave the very news CNN US is all but abandoning. Talk about the wrong audience for this interview…

2 Responses to “Spin Control…”

  1. […] Zucker’s in it for the ratings; Wemple: Repetition doesn’t equal […]

  2. Erik Wemple wrote today, “As the whole world learned after Flight MH370’s disappearance in March 2014, the Zucker-led CNN likes nothing more than to promulgate wall-to-wall coverage of a big news event.”

    So if this so-called “wall-to-wall coverage” leads to more viewers, is this really to be scorned. Isn’t this (unfortunately) the new normal on cable news? Only now it’s the disappearing credibility of Donald Trump instead of a disappeared passenger plane.

    Ratings have been king for over a decade now and it only seems to be getting worse. Just look at all the programs on Fox News that appeal to the Trump supporters in their viewing audience. A ratings grab to be sure.

    If you want in depth coverage on non-political news, I say, “Check out the Internet.” Not that CNN and FNC don’t do some reporting on this — often 45 minutes out of every hour during CNN dayside.

    Why do I think we’ll still be having this debate years from now — give viewers what they (mostly) want or give them what they need.

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