Archive for the CNN Category

MSNBC Needs to Clean Up Its Dayside Scheduling Mess…

Posted in CNN, MSNBC on June 16, 2020 by icn2

Ever since COVID-19 mania swept over the nation and the world, two of the three cable news networks tore up their regular dayside scheduling. But the methods and tactics differed wildly.

Over at CNN the changes consisted of shifting some of its primetime talent into dayside in attempt to potentially juice their primetine show ratings long term (the tactic will fail to work as it has always failed to work for CNN whenever it tries this stunt…but that’s a story for another day). In addition Brooke Baldwin went down with COVID-19 for weeks which further disrupted the rotation. Months later, the schedule has not yet returned to pre COVID-19 order and it’s not clear when that will happen. It will happen at some point but COVID-19 isn’t the only thing impacting anchor rotation decisions now in the wake of George Floyd’s death and everything else that has happened since.

Over at MSNBC things have gotten rather messy for reasons that are no longer really operative. The single biggest driving factor that blew up MSNBC’s Dayside rotation was President Trump’s multi-hour daily briefings. When they were being held starting around 11:30am ET, they’d frequently run over Andrea Mitchell’s entire hour which caused the network to carve out the first half hour at 1pmET for her show before going into a half hour of someone else at 1:30pm.

But then Trump shifted his briefings to around 4pm which ran over Chuck Todd’s hour. So the network responded by putting Todd on at 1pm in a non-Meet The Press Daily format…so he wasn’t really doing his show at 1pm, he was doing whatever was news at that hour (basically COVID and later BLM).

Meanwhile, the network decided to lengthen Deadline: White House and have it start at 3:30pm ET. That left 3-3:30 as needing to be filled and MSNBC filled it by pairing Brian Williams with Wallace for the half hour as well as pairing Williams with Katy Tur in her own hour at 2pm.

That pairing didn’t work so well so MSNBC shook that up by pairing Todd and Tur together from 1pm-3pm ET. And Williams and Wallace from 3:00-3:30pm and Wallace solo from 3:30-5pm.

Except Todd doesn’t work Mondays. So Tur anchors 1pm Monday solo, right? Wrong! On Mondays they have Ari Melber solo anchor 1pm because…because…well just because dammit!

And that’s where we currently stand with MSNBC’s tortured dayside lineup.

What a mess. Melber anchoring solo Mondays at 1pm makes no sense. Pairing Todd and Tur and Williams and Wallace makes no sense, particularly when they aren’t in the same location. Watching the lags go on and uneven flow of the back and forth locations and segments is very awkward especially when you consider that these issues only became introduced because MSNBC decided to start remote pairing anchors.

Pairing Williams and Wallace for half an hour makes even less sense. There’s really no reason for it just like it makes no sense for MSNBC, or any network for that matter, to have a 1.5 hour program (Deadline: White House).

And all of this occurred because of Trump’s COVID-19 press briefings jumping around the day…briefings that aren’t even occurring any more.

MSNBC needs to restore order to the chaos and clean up its dayside anchor rotation and make something consistent out of it again.

CNN’s Unhelpful Death Clock Must Go…

Posted in CNN on March 20, 2020 by icn2

CNN has started keeping COVID-19 statistics on its screen full time. I’m calling it CNN’s “Death Clock” because basically that’s what it is…something that continuously updates the dead and infected COVID-19 cases around the world…and a special breakout for the US dead and sick.

And it’s on the screen




To say that CNN is being unhelpful here is to be charitable. The genius who thought this up should be put in quarantine for the rest of this crisis. Or be lobotomized so they never come up with another stupid idea like that again.

What on earth is CNN thinking here? Thats it’s helpful to further stress out an already stressed out nation by leaving those constantly updating stats on the screen all the time?

This isn’t a pledge break like the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon where we want to know how well we’re doing to measure our progress. This is life and death and any further increase in those figures just makes us feel worse and more h.

People are dying.


There is no journalistic benefit for this stunt. It’s fair to talk about the statistics periodically. But this ubiquitous saturation bombing of these stats is just a very sick twisted gimmick that does nothing to help us in what for many is the fight of our lives.

CNN must remove the “death clock”. It is repugnant…

Jeff Zucker to ESPN?

Posted in CNN on January 19, 2018 by icn2

Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva writes that Jeff Zucker has been in talks with Disney about possibly taking over ESPN…

Reps at Disney could not be reached for comment, but multiple sources close to Zucker confirmed to Deadline that he has had conversations for the top job at the sports giant. I hear he met with Disney chairman and chief executive officer Bob Iger last week in New York.


Zucker, whose current CNN contract I hear is up at the end of the year, is an intriguing proposition. He has a higher profile than any of the other potential candidates. He was able to reverse CNN’s linear ratings declines even before the Donald Trump-fueled political coverage ratings bonanza. He also successfully built the cable news network’s digital brand, overseeing a big online expansion.

Those are things Disney wants to see ESPN achieve. The network’s ratings woes have been dragging down Disney’s stock price as the sports net has been shedding linear subscribers. Disney also has been looking to better monetize ESPN and its programming in a multi-platform universe, including via a recently announced ESPN-branded OTT service.

I agree with part of Andreeva’s retrospective of Zucker’s “accomplishments”. He did make a huge push into digital for CNN…the success of which is still to ultimately be judged. But don’t give him too many props for “fixing” CNN’s ratings. He never got CNN close to striking distance of FNC and though he did push CNN above MSNBC…that had as much, if not more, to do with MSNBC’s crashing and burning on its own than it did with anything Zucker did…a point reinforced by the NBC cable network’s rebound in the ratings.

I would also be remiss in not noting one of the things Zucker did over the air was basically kill CNN’s news brand. He pushed (exiled?) the bulk of the news, even major world news, to the digital platform. Under Jeff Zucker, CNN stopped being the cable network to turn to for straight news and became the network for watercooler news.

All of which makes his hiring by ESPN all the more questionable because ESPN’s problem is eroding viewership. Driving people to digital for sports won’t solve that problem. You don’t want to move your biggest sports assets to digital…right now you’ll lose out on that deal because there aren’t enough out there to make up for what you lose by cutting off cable distribution. Ultimately at some point that will change and digital will become to dominant distribution channel. But we are still years from that point.

In addition to spearheading CNN’s ratings resurgence, Zucker has been able to grow a slew of media stars, turning Don Lemon, Jake Tapper and Chris Cuomo into household names.

Oh please. None of these guys are household names. I love me some Tapper but even he isn’t a household name. And Zucker didn’t “grow” any of these guys. Lemon became “famous”, if you want to use that term, all on his own because of his gaffes. Tapper had a rep before he even got to CNN and that hasn’t changed since he’s been there. I see very little of Zucker’s imprint on Cuomo. And as long as we’re talking about profiles, what the hell has happened to Anderson Cooper since Zucker arrived? He went from being CNN’s go to, bounce around the country/world, news star to being a low profile desk jockey. Maybe that’s partly Cooper’s own doing/choice…but you can draw a dividing line between Anderson Cooper pre-Jeff Zucker and Anderson Cooper post-Jeff Zucker.

Update: CNN’s Brian Stelter, completely and irrevocably entangled in conflict of interest mode for this story for as long as it plays out, along with the similarly ensnared Dylan Byers note that CNN is denying the that Zucker is interested.

In response to questions, CNN spokeswoman Allison Gollust said, “Jeff loves his job at CNN, and has no interest in running ESPN.”

They also note that Andreeva updated her original story to remove the Iger sentence…

Deadline’s story, written by Nellie Andreeva, initially said “I hear that he met with Disney chairman and chief executive officer Bob Iger last week.” But that sentence was later cut from the story. Multiple sources denied to CNN that there’s been any in-person meeting between Zucker and Iger.

September Numbers: CNN…

Posted in CNN, Ratings Related on September 26, 2017 by icn2

CNN is noting its September ratings…



Key Programs Set Record Ratings, Post Double-Digit Growth from Last Year

CNN Beats MSNBC for 14th Straight Quarter;
Cuts Deficit with Fox News to Smallest in 9 years


CNN had its most-watched third quarter ever. The quarter ended Sunday with record high ratings throughout key dayparts and programs.

In Total Day, CNN had its most-watched third quarter ever among total viewers and its highest 3Q delivery among adults 25-54 in 16 years (since 2001). In prime time, CNN delivered its second highest 3Q since 2008 in both total viewers and the demo (25-54). During dayside programming (9am-4pm), CNN had its best 3Q delivery since 1995 in total viewers and since 2001 among adults 25-54.

Several key CNN programs also posted their highest 3Q deliveries on record among adults 25-54, including CNN’s Erin Burnett Outfront, Anderson Cooper 360, CNN Tonight with Don Lemon, The Lead with Jake Tapper and The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. New Day posted its second highest quarterly performance on record among both adults 25-54 and total viewers.

CNN ranked #2 in cable news this quarter, beating MSNBC once again in Total Day and dayside programming among adults 25-54. In Total Day, CNN outperformed MSNBC for the 14th straight quarter (266k vs. MSNBC’s 216k), the longest quarterly streak since 2Q 2010. In daytime, CNN topped MSNBC for the 20th straight quarter among adults 25-54 (244k vs. MSNBC’s 177k). During prime time, the competition is close, with only 6k separating CNN from MSNBC and 58k from Fox News. CNN’s weekend programming was #1 in both Total Day and prime time, easily outperforming both MSNBC and Fox News.

CNN cut the deficit with Fox News to it smallest in nine years (since 4Q-08) in Total Day among adults 25-54.

Several key CNN programs ranked #1 in cable news this quarter, posting higher demo audiences than both Fox News and MSNBC, including: Early Start with Christine Romans and Dave Briggs, State of the Union with Jake Tapper (noon) and Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter. CNN programming on Saturdays (11am-8pm and 9pm-5am) and Sundays (11am-1pm and 2pm-3am) also ranked #1 in cable news for the quarter.

Among ALL cable networks, CNN ranked #7 in Total Day and #10 in prime time among total viewers. This marks the fifth straight quarter and longest quarterly streak in nearly 22 years (since 4Q 1995) that CNN is a Top 10 Cable network among total viewers in Total Day.

(For context when comparing 3Q prime time a year ago – CNN had an unprecedented ratings lift and posted record high viewership due to the RNC and DNC convention coverage that aired during the third quarter last summer – which is why the network is down slightly vs. last year in the prime time daypart.)

Median Age:

Both MSNBC and Fox News’ audience skews much older than CNN’s as shown by the number of total viewers they attract vs. the key demographic adults 25-54. Year-to-date, CNN’s median age in Total Day is 60 years, Fox News and MSNBC are both 65. In prime time, CNN is 59 years, MSNBC is 65 years and Fox News has the oldest skewing audience at 66 years. CNN is tracking at its youngest yearly median age since 2008 in Total Day, while MSNBC is at its oldest on record.

CNN 3Q 2017 Program Highlights:


Early Start with Christine Romans and Dave Briggs (4-6am) ranked #1 across cable news with 155k among adults 25-54, Fox placed second and MSNBC was third. Early Start grew +13% in the demo vs. third quarter a year ago.

New Day with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota (6-9am) had its second highest quarterly performance on record (229k among 25-54, 644k in total viewers) and is posting its largest quarterly share (including ties) of the cable news audience on record among both 25-54 (25%) and total viewers (19%). CNN has cut the quarterly deficit vs. Fox & Friends to its smallest since 4Q-08 in the key demo (-33%). New Day grew double-digits vs. last year, increasing +36% among 25-54 and +23% in total viewers.

CNN dayside (9am-4pm): CNN dominated MSNBC during dayside programming this month among adults 25-54 (244k vs. 177k), posting it highest 3Q performance since 2001 among 25-54 and since 1995 in total viewers. CNN dayside programming also increased +17% in the demo vs. a year ago. CNN has now topped MSNBC for the 20th straight quarter.

The Lead with Jake Tapper (4pm) ranked #2 in cable news this quarter in the key demo 25-54 with 278k, MSNBC followed with 217k. The Lead posted its highest 3Q ratings performance in both 25-54 (278k) and total viewers (1.013m) this quarter. The Tapper-led program grew +14% in the demo compared to third quarter last year.

The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer also had a very strong quarter, posting its highest third quarter ratings on record at both 5pm and 6pm in the demo. The Sit Room at 5pm ranked #2 in cable news in the demo (298k), increasing +12% compared to last year’s busy election year. At 6pm, the Blitzer-led show also ranked #2 (323k), up +14% vs. third quarter a year ago.

Evenings/Prime Time:

CNN prime time (M-Su, 8-11pm) delivered its second highest 3Q performance since 2008 in both the key demo (388k) and in total viewers (1.099m). For context, when comparing 3Q prime time a year ago – CNN had an unprecedented ratings lift and posted record high viewership due to the RNC and DNC convention coverage that aired during the third quarter last summer.

Erin Burnett Outfront (7pm) posted its highest 3Q 25-54 delivery on record and the network’s best 7pm 3Q performance since 1995. The Burnett-anchored news program ranked #2 in cable news, averaging 365k among adults 25-54, MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews ranked third with 333k. EBOF has now topped MSNBC at 7pm for the 13th straight quarter. The program grew +12% in the demo compared to third quarter last year.

Anderson Cooper 360 (8pm) also posted its highest 3Q delivery on record, topping All in with Chris Hayes in the key demo adults 25-54 (421k vs. MSNBC’s 389k). The Cooper-led program has now outperformed MSNBC for 14 consecutive quarters. AC 360 was up +3% in the demo compared to last year’s busy political election year and was the highest rated CNN program in weekday prime time.

While MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show has had ratings success at 9pm, CNN’s live 9pm programming had double-digit growth this quarter, increasing +15% among adults 25-54 and +10% among total viewers vs. third quarter a year ago.

CNN Tonight with Don Lemon (10pm) had its highest 3Q delivery on record in both adults 25-54 (416k) and total viewers (1.161m) this quarter and grew the most of all CNN weekday prime time programming, increasing +17% in the demo and +13% in total viewers vs. 3Q-2016. At 11pm, the second live hour of the Lemon-led CNN Tonight (358k) ranked #2 in the demo (up +9%) and +8% among total viewers.


CNN weekend total day ranked #1 in cable news in the demo, averaging 273k, Fox News was second with 249k and MSNBC was third with 153k among adults 25-54 this quarter. CNN was up the most in cable news increasing +34% in the demo and +18% in total viewers vs. last year.

CNN weekend primetime was also #1 in the demo this month with 355k, Fox News followed with 278k and MSNBC had 147k. CNN grew +42% in the demo and +27% in total viewers vs. third quarter last year.

On Saturdays, CNN New Day ranked #2 this quarter, growing double digits each hour.

Smerconish (Saturdays 9am) ranked #2 in the demo 25-54 (297k vs. MSNBC’s 172k) and among total viewers (980k vs. MSNBC’s 733k). The program was up +33% in the key demo and +22% among total viewers vs. a year ago.

CNN programming on Saturdays, which includes Newsroom with Fredricka Whitfield and Newsroom with Ana Cabrera, all ranked #1 in the demo 25-54 from 11am-8pm and from 9pm-5am. Each hour was also up double-digits vs. last year. On Sundays, CNN ranked #1 in cable news each hour on Sundays from 11am-1pm and 2pm-3am in the key demo 25-54, growing double digits.

Inside Politics with John King (Sundays 8am) ranked #2 in both adults 25-54 (239k) and total viewers (798k). MSNBC ranked 3rd. The King-led program grew +27% among adults 25-54 and +15% in total viewers vs. last year.

State of the Union with Jake Tapper (Sundays) ranked #2 in cable news at 9am in both adults 25-54 (342k) and total viewers (1.022m). The program grew +50% in the demo 25-54 and +29% in total viewers compared to third quarter year last year. The noon edition ranked #1 in cable news in the demo with 335k, Fox News followed with 246k and MSNBC was third with 206k, growing +36% from a year ago. MSNBC was a distant third at both 9am and noon. SOTU has now ranked #1 at noon for the third consecutive quarter among 25-54.

Fareed Zakaria GPS (Sundays) ranked #2 in cable news at both 10am and 1pm among both the demo (267k/223k) and among total viewers (974k/832k). Among 25-54, the program was up double digits at 10a (+12%) and 1p (+15%).

Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter (Sundays, 11am) ranked #1 in cable news among 25-54, posting its first quarterly win since Stelter began hosting in 2013. For the quarter, Reliable averaged 284k, Fox News’ Media Buzz followed with 272k and MSNBC’s AM Joy had 229k. The Stelter-led media program was up +25% in adults 25-54 vs. third quarter last year.

CNN 3Q 2017 Original Series, CNN Films and CNN Special Reports Highlights:

CNN’s The Nineties (7/9-8/20/17, Sundays 9pm) was the most-watched CNN Original Series to-date (thru 9/24/17) among 25-54 and third most-watched among total viewers. The decade series ranked #1 in both demos across cable news in its time period, outperforming the combined 25-54 delivery of Fox News and MSNBC. Every episode also ranked #1 among 25-54 across cable news in its time period, outperforming the combined delivery of Fox News and MSNBC.

CNN’s The History of Comedy Season 1 (2/9-8/13/17, Thu 10pm/Sun 10pm) was the second most-watched CNN Original Series to-date among both 25-54 and total viewers. HOC also ranked #1 among 25-54 across cable news in its time period.

CNN’s Declassified: Untold Stories of American Spies Season 2 to-date (7/22-9/23/17, Sat 9pm) ranks #2 among 25-54 across cable news in its time period. Pacing above its Season 1 average on Sundays at 10pm by double-digit percentages among both 25-54 and total viewers.

CNN Films: Elian Premiere (Thu 8/24/17) and CNN Films: The Reagan Show Premiere (Mon 9/4/17) attracted the youngest audience across cable news in their respective time periods. The premiere of CNN Films: Legion of Brothers (Sun 9/24/17) ranked #1 in cable news among adults 25-54 and second in total viewers in its time period.

CNN Special Report: Secret State: Inside North Korea Premiere (Fri 9/15/17) was the #1 cable news telecast of the day among adults 25-54 and the second most-watched CNN Special Report so far in 2017 among 25-54.

End of Month September 2017 Highlights:

CNN beat MSNBC in Total Day, dayside and prime time (M-Su and M-F) demo 25-54.

CNN posts robust ratings growth in all key dayparts and programs

Tops MSNBC in Total Day for 39th straight month among adults 25-54, longest monthly streak since January 2010.

Tops MSNBC in M-Su prime time for second straight month and for 34 of the last 39 months among 25-54.

Tops MSNBC in M-F prime time for the first time since February 2017 among 25-54.

Tops MSNBC in daytime for the 43rd straight month among 25-54.

CNN cut the monthly deficit with Fox News in Total Day, the prime time hours of 8pm and 9pm and weekday mornings.

Ranks #5 in ALL of cable in Total Day and #7 in prime time in demo 25-54.

All CNN programs beat MSNBC in the demo 25-54, posting double-digit growth:

Early Start with Christine Romans and Dave Briggs (4-6am) ranked #1 in cable news in the demo (173k); up +50% vs. last year.

New Day with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota back on top of MSNBC’s Morning Joe (262k vs. 210k), growing the most in cable news in the morning (+74%). New Day also posted its largest monthly demo lead over Joe (+25%) since May, 2015.

The Lead with Jake Tapper (4pm) ranks #2 in cable news, growing +39% in the demo vs. last September. MSNBC was a distant 3rd.

The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer is #2 in cable news at both 5pm (+36%) and 6pm (+41%) posting the largest growth in cable news during those hours among 25-54. MSNBC ranked third.

Erin Burnett Outfront (7pm) ranked #2, beating MSNBC for the second straight month in the demo (408k vs. 296k), and for 38 out of the last 39 months. The program is up 48% from last year.

AC 360 (8pm) topped MSNBC also for the second straight month among adults 25-54 (485k vs. 344k), and for 37 of the past 39 months. The Cooper-led program is up +55% vs. last September.

CNN Tonight with Don Lemon (10pm) topped MSNBC’s Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell for the first time since February 2017 (446k vs. 440k), growing +26% from last year. At 11pm, the second live hour of Tonight ranked #1 in cable news with 380k,

Fox News followed with 344k and MSNBC’s 11th Hour with Brian Williams ranked third with 309k.

CNN’s weekend programming ranked #1 in Total Day (358k) and prime time (419k) among adults 25-54. MSNBC was third.
Smerconish ranked #2 in cable news at 9am (353k, up +69%) and at 6pm (210k) in the demo.

State of the Union with Jake Tapper ranked #2 at 9am (up +91%) among 25-54 (467k). At noon, the program ranked #1 in cable news among adults 25-54 (451k) and among total viewers (1.314m), growing +110% and +41% respectively from a year ago.

Fareed Zakaria GPS ranked #2 at 10am in the demo (268k) up +16% from last year.

Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter was #2 in cable news at 11am (259k), increasing +23% from last September.

Cable News Is Broken…

Posted in CNN, FNC, MSNBC on August 11, 2017 by icn2

The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi writes about what has turned me off of cable news…

Last year was a busy one for Hank Bargine, a freelance TV-news cameraman based in Colorado. The networks kept calling as the presidential candidates crisscrossed the country on the campaign trail. Bargine worked and traveled constantly, shooting rallies and other political events.

Now? Things are as slow as Bargine can remember in his 20 years as a news photographer. Bargine estimates he’s worked about 20 percent as much as he did last year. And he has no doubt what, or who, is responsible. “The Trump factor,” he calls it.

As in: The cable networks, in particular, have devoted so much time and attention to President Trump in his first six months in office that they have little time or interest in covering much else. Cable news has been so packed with Trump — wherever he might be, whatever’s he’s doing — that stories far afield from Washington don’t make the cut.

The current Trump-centric focus is an extension of the 2016 campaign, when the cable networks drew criticism for devoting disproportionate amounts of airtime to Trump, the candidate, at the expense of his political rivals. The networks — addicted to the improved ratings that all things Trump brought their way — seemingly couldn’t help themselves. “These are very good times for us, and the money is following,” CNN President Jeff Zucker said in February.

If anything, 2017 has been more of the same — much more.

I’ll say.

There’s been a direct 1:1 correlation between the lack of output I have lacked to put out on this blog since the beginning of 2016 and the decrepit state of cable news.

Unlike Mediaite, TVNewser, and just about everyone else in media writing who has kept up with covering cable news and its incessant obsession over every Trump detail, be they pro or con, taken to absurd levels of scrutiny, I am completely apathetic about the whole thing.

To devote time to the latest Hannity ass kissing of Trump or the Joe and Mia fight or Tucker Carlson, Eric Bolling, and Jesse Watters’ hystrionics or CNN’s endless panels of too many people (many of which shouldn’t be there to begin with) on Trump news or MSNBC’s A, B, C, D, and E Trump centric blocks and squeezing six people on the screen all the time (even though only one is talking at any given time)…

…to write about cable news and its off kilter, out of proportion everything Trump does is news mantra and to do so with a straight face as too many of my colleagues have is to give legitimacy to something I find inherently illegitimate.

So that’s why I haven’t been blogging much. When you restrict your attention to areas cable news isn’t paying much attention to anymore, you don’t have a lot to write about.

Not that I expect others to follow suit. Ad dollars are at risk. I don’t make money doing this so I can afford to go take a powder purely on principle. Mediaite can’t. TVNewser can’t.

But just because I refuse to play ball and treat cable news’ lack of self-restraint and piss poor journalistic judgement as “the new normal” doesn’t mean I can sit by and watch cable news presidents take victory laps for said bad behavior…

“We’re reflecting the biggest story of our lifetime,” said Zucker in an interview on Thursday.

No on two counts. You aren’t reflecting the biggest story of our lifetime…you are unabashedly chasing ratings in a niche area in lieu of a global journalism approach. And this isn’t the biggest story of our lifetime.

But cable’s reliance on Trump is as much a programming strategy as a reflection of the news of the moment. Zucker acknowledges that the audience’s response to all the Trump news on cable validates the approach. Only a few years ago, “writers wrote that cable news was irrelevant, that it was being overtaken by the Internet,” he said. “The fact is, cable news has never been more relevant or more successful than it has been for the last two years.”

First of all few were writing that cable news was irrelevant and being overtaken by the internet because it simply wasn’t the case. It was the case for the broadcast networks nightly news shows but that story has been written and re-written going on for a decade now. Most were writing that print journalism was irrelevant and that it was being overtaken by the internet. That one may still bear out.

Cable news is more successful…I’ll give Zucker that. But that is not saying much either. I can make cable news very successful if I had my anchors all go topless. Doesn’t mean I should.

But cable news itself has never been more irrelevant than it is now for everyone but ideologues and political junkies. It is broken. People tune in not because they get informed…no they find the news faster via the internet…People tune in because they want their bubble-ish world views affirmed and for the entertainment factor of watching two sides disagree with each other.

People want to hear over and over again how bad Trump is doing on MSNBC and CNN. They want to hear about the latest dysfunction in the most dysfunctional White House of all time. They want the mindless endless speculation and prognostication from the know nothing cookie cutter paint by numbers panels that appear incessantly like penguins lining up to jump off an ice flow.

People want to hear over and over again about why Trump is getting a raw deal on FNC. They want the Hannity ass kissing, the Tucker Carlson elitist smugness, and the Fox and Friends brown nosing. They want to hear about Seth Rich. They want to know about the latest threat and outrage from the now impotent Hillary Clinton. They tune into a network full of fake news journalists to hear people scream about fake news. They tune in to watch mindless conservative pundit-toids beat up on feckless liberal zombies incapable of independent thought.

How is journalism served by any of this?

It’s not. And no amount of chest beating and self-crowing by Jeff Zucker is going to change that…not to mention this bit of self-serving banality from Phil Griffin…

“We try to squeeze in major stories that need to be told,” MSNBC President Phil Griffin said Thursday, “but there is one story that is dominating.” Besides, he adds, “We don’t want to do 20 stories with drive-by reporting. [Cable news] is much better when it picks a few and goes deep, looking at it from all sides.”

Or, in MSNBC’s case, picks one with a few variations on the one, and drones on about it ad nauseam.

There is one story that is dominating because you decided to make it dominate. This self-fulfilling prophecy that is the Trump phenomenon has always been a media generated issue. The supply has always come before the demand.

Most of the White House’s daily briefings have been devoid of real news value and yet cable news has covered them live far more times in the past six months than ever before in a similar timeframe. Not for the news. For the entertainment value.

Journalism works best when it presents as much of the news as possible and lets the reader/viewer digest the whole picture. It fails miserably when it cuts back on story count in order to pursue one lucrative but narrow demographic.

I haven’t seen cable news lose itself this badly and fail the viewer so utterly since the Florida recount. In that case, as with this one, cable news took a legitimate story of national import and perverted the hell out of it, losing all perspective and judgement while turning it into a spectacle designed to entertain rather than meaningfully inform.

For 40 something days we were inundated with images and words that we have since long forgotten.

We are due for at least another three and a half years of off kilter Trump coverage on all three cable news networks. Have a nice day…

Too much Schadenfreude…

Posted in CNN, FNC on August 11, 2017 by icn2

CNN’s Oliver Darcy writes in detail about what allegedly happened at FOX with the Seth Rich story…

For more than two months, Fox News has declined to explain the story behind one of its most high-profile journalistic disasters — the publication of an article that aimed to tie slain Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich to Wikileaks. Now CNN has learned the details and is disclosing them for the first time.

Read the rest if you want to know what (allegedly) happened.

Instant Take #1: CNN publishes a flawed story online (Scaramucci), retracts it fast, and three people are fired resign shortly thereafter. FNC publishes a flawed story online, waits a week to retract it, and so far nobody has been held accountable.

Instant Take #2: CNN seems to have no qualms about digging into the behind the scenes of a competitor’s misfortune and lack of disclosure and accountability. But when you mention the words “Fareed Zakaria” you will get stonewalled. It seems that, for CNN, not all media failure stories are created equal or merit the same level of scrutiny and disclosure.

Instant Take #3: If I’m FNC, I’m going to come after CNN’s “flaws” as publicly as CNN has come after mine.

Jeffrey Lord Fired by CNN…

Posted in CNN on August 11, 2017 by icn2

This is stupid. CNN dropped Jeffrey Lord from its roster over a “Seig Heil” comment? Of all the things in the world Lord has done both on CNN’s air and off it, and they only fire him because he makes a sarcastic quip on Twitter?

Lord was an embarrassment for CNN in particular and the conservative cause in general and should have been dropped years ago. But the fact that this is what got him fired says a lot about the state of the network. You can repeatedly dumb down the on air discussion…a discussion the network repeatedly has tried to sell as a plus in its journalistic coverage…and the network won’t care but you do something stupid on Twitter and you’re dead meat.

June Numbers: CNN…

Posted in CNN, Ratings Related on June 27, 2017 by icn2

CNN is noting its June ratings…



Key Programs Surge This Quarter, Posting Record Performance

The Lead with Jake Tapper Up +54%
The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer Up +63%
Erin Burnett Outfront Up +65%
Anderson Cooper 360 Up +52%
CNN Tonight with Don Lemon Up +52%
New Day Grows the Most in Cable News in the Morning, Up +77%

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CNN Drops Kathy Griffin…

Posted in CNN on May 31, 2017 by icn2

It’s sad that CNN dropped Kathy Griffin, not because every year she made New Years Eve impossible to watch on the network, but because of this. Mind you, CNN had to drop her and was right to drop her. But it should have dropped her years ago.

Q1 Numbers: CNN…

Posted in CNN on March 28, 2017 by icn2

CNN is noting its Q1 ratings…


Strong #2 in Cable News in Total Day, Dayside and Prime Time Demo

Tops MSNBC for 12 Straight Quarters

CNN Beats MSNBC 23 Out of 24 Hours in Demo

New Day Tops Morning Joe for Second Straight Quarter;

State of the Union with Jake Tapper and Fareed Zakaria GPS Rank #1 in Demo

CNN had its most-watched first quarter in 14 years (since 1Q 2003) among both adults 25-54 and total viewers. Among all quarters, the network posted its second highest quarterly ratings in total day (25-54 and total viewers) and 3rd highest in prime time (25-54) since 4Q 2008.
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Blaming the Victim…or Not?

Posted in CNN on March 1, 2017 by icn2

FTVLive writes a dangerously vacuous post blasting CNN for its “critical” coverage of Trump and all but telling it to cover Trump “more fairly” if it wants to not get shut out of gets and events.

There is no doubt that CNN has gone against Trump from day one and Fox News, for the most part has praised him.

Last night, Trump showed that if he sticks to the script he can act and sound more like a President. Words, for a President are easy, it’s the actions that will tell his legacy.

CNN, Trump’s harshest critic even had to admit that Trump did well last night.

Today, Vice President Mike Pence will be taking a media “victory lap” for the administration.

Pence will stop by, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox News in the morning. He’ll do radio with Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, Michael Savage, and Sean Hannity.

The in the evening, he’ll do “The O’Reilly Factor” and “For the Record with Greta”.

Where he won’t go is CNN.

Which means that CNN will be crying all day about how the administration continues to lock them out. CNN will have to rely on clips of Pence’s appearance on other networks.

Maybe it is time for CNN to start covering the administration more fairly.

I read this and I think to myself where was FTVLive when Obama’s administration was playing mind games and trying to marginalize FNC? Where was the blog post telling FNC to get with the program and cover Obama “more fairly”?

So why does CNN deserve special attention here? Worse, why does FTVLive accuse CNN of being unfair without providing one single example of this unfairness for us to evaluate the claim?

Writing stories the administration doesn’t want reported is not exactly being unfair. It’s doing your job.

Getting people to reveal details that don’t put you in a favorable light isn’t exactly being unfair. It’s doing your job.

Holding an administration’s feet to the fire on things it says and doesn’t do isn’t exactly being unfair. It’s doing your job.

Not every network does this as vociferously as others. And some change their focus from administration to administration. But none of this happens in a vacuum in isolation. You can’t evaluate a network’s behavior that way without examining its environment.

What CNN talent has been unfair to Trump and why? Give us examples so we can evaluate the claim.

Where has CNN been reckless in its coverage of President Trump? Give us examples so we can evaluate the claim.

Does anyone, other than the Trump base, seriously think that if Trump had not been blasting the press all through the campaign trail, getting his facts incorrect, following insane Info Wars type conspiracies, making stuff up, and doubling down when challenged on his incredibly shaky ground…not to mention the Birther crap from years earlier…that the media as a whole would not look at least somewhat askew at everything the Trump administration does?

There is a causality at work here between Trump’s prior actions and the media’s coverage of his administration that makes laying all the blame at the media’s feet seem incredibly obtuse. That history counts a lot towards where we now find the relationship between the Administration and the Media.

Now, I am not arguing that CNN is pure as the driven snow. Far from it. I just wrote a couple of weeks ago about some things CNN has done recently which are not helpful to its cause.

But it’s a damn long road going from incompetently shooting yourself in the foot to being unfairly hyper aggressive in your news coverage that excuses or justifies blackballing networks. We aren’t there yet. Not even close.

What I am arguing is that if FTVLive is going to appear to blame the victim here it needs to thoroughly document what incidents are the reasons why we should believe that CNN is the aggressor to be blamed and deserving of blackballing and not the victim of a thin skinned Trump administration that is not in control of its narrative as much as it wants to be.

Just making the charge, without documentation, is no better than what Trump does to the press on a regular basis as he tries to divide and conquer the media and keep it weak. So, if you’re going to go down that dangerous path and appear to blame the victim, without supplying evidence, FTVLive in effect is doing the Trump administration’s work for it, whether it realizes it or not.

February Numbers: CNN…

Posted in CNN, Ratings Related on February 28, 2017 by icn2

CNN is noting its February ratings…


CNN Tops MSNBC for 32nd Straight Month in Adults 25-54 in Total Day and Prime Time

New Day Beats Morning Joe Again; Has Second Best Month on Record

CNN Prime Time Shows Beat MSNBC Among Adults 25-54

Erin Burnett Outfront Has Best Performance Ever

Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter, State of the Union with Jake Tapper and Fareed Zakaria GPS All Rank #1 in Demo

February was another strong month for CNN with the network ranking #2 in cable news, with many programs posting record ratings and all shows growing double or triple digits compared to a year ago. CNN has topped MSNBC in Total Day (total viewers and 25-54) and in prime time (adults 25-54) for 32 consecutive months, the longest winning streak vs. MSNBC in nine years (since February 2008).

This month, New Day beat MSNBC’s Morning Joe for the second straight month and for the third time in the last four months among adults 25-54. February was the program’s second best month on record and its largest advantage over MSNBC since May 2015 in the demo. New Day also had its largest share of the cable news morning audience on record in the demo (25%).
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CNN’s Dangerous Game…

Posted in CNN on February 17, 2017 by icn2

CNN has been playing a dangerous game this week as things have gone off the rails between the Trump administration and the major media entities not named FNC. Trump has been on the warpath over a series of damaging and in many cases self-inflicted negative stories have been hitting the wires just about every day this week and the whole thing hit a low note with the President’s press conference yesterday…the worst press conference by a national public official that I can remember seeing.

Trump has been really banging the “fake news” drum because it plays to his base and because he apparently doesn’t know the definition of the term “self control”.

While most of the entities that have drawn Trump’s ire have continued to plug along doing what they do and letting their reporting speak for itself, CNN has been going its own way and it’s a decidedly bad one.

In a nutshell, CNN has been making Trump’s point for him.

I can point to three things that surfaced this week which have hurt CNN’s and the rest of the media’s cause.

Exhibit A: Video of CNN en Espanol anchor Carmen Aristegui making a gesture that appears to draw an allusion between Trump and Hitler. After watching that gesture on the video several times I cannot rule out what The Daily Caller’s Betsy Rothstein suggests Aristegui did.

Exhibit B: CNN’s Donald Trump Valentine Card generator

Exhibit C: CNN’s Twitter account linking to a video basically mocking Trump’s various gestures. What does CNN think it is? Mediaite?

Of the three, the Hitler allusion is the worst but it’s also the one that is the least germane because Aristegui doesn’t work for CNN US and because the clip is from last November. If it had been any CNN US anchor that did it there would be headlines blazing.

But the other two happened this week and both are in poor taste. Worse, they help make Trump’s case that CNN is the enemy and is fake news.

We are in the middle of a war here. The war is going to decide what happens to the Fourth Estate. What makes this war difficult to fight, particularly with this occupier of the White House and his fast and loose handling of basic facts that make Clintonian speech look positively antiquated, is that this is not really a substantive fight.

If this were a substantive fight, it would have been over already and a course correction would be ordered by Trump to turn what up until now has been the worst rollout of a Presidency in generations with all the screw ups, horrible PR, self-inflicted wounds, roaming far and wide off the reservation, and…yes I’ll say it…lying.

But this isn’t a substantive fight. It’s an optical fight and the rules are different.

The substance doesn’t matter. Reagan had the Teflon presidency. Nothing stuck to him. That’s not happening with Trump (so far). The stuff is sticking hard and his poll numbers show it. It just doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter because Trump is a master of distraction and has been able to optically fight this even while substantively taking on loads of baggage. He just plays at his base and other fellow travelers by bringing up Conservative stereotypes. Trump yells, “fake news” and even those who look sideways at how his administration has handled things so far will nod knowingly because they either feel aggrieved or have felt aggrieved at one point or another.

This gets into that quicksand that is Media Bias and bubbles and I know better than to go there because it’s too subjective and its a sideshow that will suck all the air out of this discussion. The point is, regardless of the merits, when Trump yells “fake news”, it resonates because some people are looking for those optics.

When you’re in an optical war as the Fourth Estate currently is, anything, no matter how small, can be used against you. You have to be as vigilant as possible to guard against anything that could be either construed or mis-construed as fitting in with the “fake news” narrative.

That’s a tall order for the Fourth Estate because journalism by its very nature is an evolving process. An overwhelming majority of the stories that are currently being used to bolster the “fake news” claim would, in years past, have been viewed as the basic pitfalls of journalism and taken in stride. Those that didn’t would wind up being litigated in court.

But that was then. This is now. And now everyone is wound up so tight on fake news that anything that results in a correction is tagged as “fake”. Flawed headline? Fake news. Wrong date or time? Fake news. Wrong person mentioned? Fake news. Wrong location mentioned? Fake news.

We used to have dividing lines for this stuff. We had categories of journalism where errors and mistakes were dumped in one low crime category and out and out made up stories were dumped into the serious journalistic crimes category (which usually resulted in the perpetrator being fired.)

Those rules are currently inoperative. If there’s one mistake, regardless of the severity…someone somewhere yells “Fake news!”

Those are the optics the Fourth Estate must contend with. It’s easy to throw punches when you set the bar that low. And it makes it harder for journalism to defend itself. But if it’s going to defend itself, it should do so without one hand deliberately tied behind its back.

That’s why CNN making a Trump Valentine generator and linking to someone’s creative critique of Trump’s gestures is so self-defeating in the war over “fake news”. CNN might as well put a banner up on its website and on its Twitter masthead saying, “Yup, we’re the enemy and we’re fake news”.

Journalism can’t eliminate run of the mill mistakes. Those happen all the time. Always have and always will. But journalism, currently locked in a knock down drag out optical fight over “fake news”, can ill afford to hand its critics substance to their optics on a silver platter.

This week, CNN did just that.

CNN Announces New Post-Costello Lineup…

Posted in CNN on January 31, 2017 by icn2

CNN announced its new lineup after Carol Costello’s departure to HLN and it’s bigger than we surmised…

CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker announced today CNN’s new dayside lineup effective February 6th. John Berman and Poppy Harlow will co-anchor CNN Newsroom from 9-11:00am, replacing Carol Costello who moved to HLN. Berman co-anchored Early Start for the past five years and At This Hour since 2015 and Harlow has been a CNN weekend anchor since 2015. CNN’s Kate Bolduan will now be the sole anchor of At This Hour at 11:00am.

Dave Briggs will join CNN in February as co-anchor of Early Start alongside Christine Romans. Briggs was the co-anchor of Weekend Fox & Friends for five years, most recently co-hosted a program on the NBC Sports Network and was also a CNBC contributor.

4:00-6:00am: Early Start with Christine Romans and Dave Briggs
(beginning February 23rd)

6:00-9:00am: New Day with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota

9:00-11:00am: CNN Newsroom with John Berman and Poppy Harlow

11:00am-Noon: At This Hour with Kate Bolduan

The remainder of CNN’s dayside schedule will stay as is:

Noon-1:00pm: Inside Politics with John King

1:00-2:00pm: Wolf with Wolf Blitzer

2:00-4:00pm: Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin

4:00-5:00pm: The Lead with Jake Tapper

5:00-7:00pm: The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer

Moving Berman off early mornings was long overdue. A bit more surprising was having Kate Bolduan solo but not totally far fetched.

The only question left unanswered is who will get Poppy Harlow’s weekend slot?

Carol Costello Moves From CNN to HLN…

Posted in CNN, HLN on January 30, 2017 by icn2

Ever since I discovered last year that Carol Costello’s husband had to move to the west coast for work, I have been waiting for the other shoe to drop and today it dropped. Costello announced on the air that she would be leaving CNN U.S. for a anchor role for a HLN show originating out of L.A.

“I have lived apart from my husband for many years,” Costello said at the end of her show today, “but he was always close by because he also lived on the east coast. But last year my husband snagged a fantastic job in Los Angeles, and I kind of miss him,” she said.”

Say no more. But there is a price to pay…

Costello goes from a network with incredible stability to one which has now eclipsed MSNBC circa 1998-2003 as the network with most glaring reboots since it blew up the CNN Headline News format. The only person there who is golden is Robin Meade. Everyone else isn’t safe…and you can add Costello to that list.

Jeff Zucker issued a statement on this news and said a few nice things about the 15 year veteran…

As many of you may have just heard, Carol Costello announced that her last day on Newsroom will be this Friday. While we’ll miss her unmistakable reporting, calming presence on the air, big smile and even bigger laugh on CNN, I’m happy to say she isn’t going far — she’ll be staying in the family and joining HLN in Los Angeles.

During her more than 15 years with us, Carol has been at the forefront of some of the world’s most significant news stories, including the Boston bombing, Pope Francis’ historic visit and our coverage of the Iraq war. She is all heart and grace, and the epitome of a seasoned journalist, making her the perfect fit to join HLN’s powerful bench of anchors.

Carol’s decision to leave CNN was a personal one. After many years balancing a long-distance marriage with her demanding career, she is cashing in her miles and permanently relocating to the west coast. Ken Jautz will be sharing more details about her new LA-based show in the coming weeks.

It’s with infinite gratitude that I thank Carol for being a friend to me, and an influential voice that has helped grow CNN and contribute to our success.

Please join Ken and me in congratulating Carol on this great new role.

Costello’s departure leaves a hole for which there is no clear unambiguous front runner to take over. I could think of half a dozen people who could get it…and still miss the actual choice. It’s pretty wide open.


Posted in CNN on January 19, 2017 by icn2

The New York Post’s Daniel Harper breaks some extremely head scratching CNN news…

Valerie Jarrett’s daughter quietly joined CNN in September as a reporter in the network’s Washington bureau.

She came to CNN with no experience in journalism. But the Harvard educated lawyer defended companies and individuals against the Justice Department as a private litigator in Chicago.

Laura married fellow Harvard law grad Tony Balkissoon in 2012 at a Chicago ceremony attended by President Obama, her mom’s boss.




This is bad on two fronts, both of which make me question CNN’s standards.

First, CNN hired Jarrett’s daughter while Jarrett was still working for Obama. That should never have happened. If Obama had been out of office when the hire took place it the egregiousness of the hire would have been much less (though still a huge issue for ideologues).

Second, and even more troubling…is she has almost no journalism experience. And she’s writing about Trump’s ethics issues according to The Hill’s Joe Concha?

This has all the fingerprints of Jeff Zucker who seems to love hiring children of political figures with zero experience in the field. He grabbed Jenna Bush Hager and Chelsea Clinton for NBC. Now he’s grabbing Laura Jarrett for CNN.

Jeff Zucker Interview…

Posted in CNN on January 18, 2017 by icn2

New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman interviews Jeff Zucker. Most of it covers familiar well worn territory concerning the election and Trump. But there were a few bits that had me interested…

I noticed that Trump is sitting down with Fox & Friends. And in recent days, he’s given interviews to The Wall Street Journal and the Times of London, both Murdoch papers. What do you think of Trump’s alliance with Murdoch?

I think you’re trying to goad me here. But you’ve made the right observation. Look, I don’t think it’s any coincidence that friendly outlets have been the ones that have ended up with the interviews with Donald Trump. Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, the Times of London — the fact that they’re all Rupert’s publications — I don’t think it’s any coincidence those are the outlets that ended up with the interviews.

It was reported that MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski were at Mar-a-Lago on New Year’s Eve. They said it was because they were trying to get an interview with Trump. Was it appropriate for journalists to attend the president-elect’s private party?

I think in that case, optically, it would have been a lot better to have just made a phone call and ask for the interview.

Shots fired…and will probably be returned in short order…

You had the biggest night in cable-news history on Election Night, 13 million viewers. What’s your plan to maintain ratings in 2017?

Our viewership continues to be significantly higher than it was a year ago and frankly much higher than we expected it to be. There’s been no evidence of any falloff at all. I think people are coming to us because they know we’ll report both sides of the story. We expected we’d be down 25 percent from last year because you had all the election nights, debates, and conventions, but if the first three weeks of this year are any indication, I’m not so sure it will be down that much.

Let’s wait a quarter or two and see. I still expect the numbers to tail off though the way the press covers Trump and the way Trump plays the press and all the hostility between the two will probably keep the numbers higher than they would be for any other incoming administration that doesn’t have to deal with a raging crisis.

Conflict Of Interest? Not so fast…

Posted in CNN on December 9, 2016 by icn2

The Hill’s Joe Concha opines about an alleged conflict of interest on CNN’s hands…

And he truly is CNN’s “it” guy right now — he’s landing interviews everywhere, from “The Daily Show” to Rolling Stone.

His commentaries — such as his blaming Donald Trump’s stunning victory on a “whitelash” of voters — go viral more than those of most network personalities lately.

But it was revealed on Thursday via a Washington Free Beacon report that Jones is also running a PR firm called Megaphone Strategies that is openly courting Electoral College electors in states across the country to not cast their vote for Trump on Dec. 19.

Before we go any further…what are we defining as a conflict of interest here? That CNN has a commentator who has a vested interest in the goings on in D.C. or have skin in some cause?

If we go by that standard, you’d have to disqualify most of the commentators on cable news today…starting with Karl Rove.

Now, while I’m all for tossing these guys (and gals) out on their ears and putting the “news” back in cable news…it’s not gonna happen.

But is it a conflict of interest for CNN? No. Cable news regularly brings on people of Van Jones’ ilk. What sets Van Jones apart, and makes the scrutiny a little stricter, is the fact CNN gave him what amounts to a live pilot. But that doesn’t make CNN any different from NBC News having Nicolle Wallace interview Jeb Bush or FNC using Tucker Carlson to host a show while he killed off Daily Caller articles critical of said network. Both are bigger conflicts of interest than whatever has ensnared Van Jones.

But that doesn’t stop Concha from unwisely going out on a long thin branch…

So is Jones now as compromised as Brazile was? And if so, what does CNN do about it?

Seriously? You’re going to compare Van Jones fronting a PR firm advocating a particular course of action…and being totally out in the open about it…to Brazile deliberately using back channels to pass on a debate question for a CNN debate to the Clinton campaign? The two could not be more dissimilar.

Is Van Jones conflicted? No. He blasts Trump on CNN and he runs a PR firm that currently is trying to undermine Trump’s chances of getting enough electors to vote for him. He’s being consistent. He’s not pretending to be something other than what he is. Furthermore, as Concha notes at the bottom, his PR firm says Van Jones plays no active role in the very issue he’s being taken to task over.

Does CNN have a disclosure issue? Technically, yes. But so does every other cable news channel in properly disclosing all the ties their analysts have. Either clean them all up or leave CNN alone.

The one question Concha doesn’t ask, and should have, is whether Van Jones is suitable material for fronting CNN specials? On that score he is definitely not. Not as long as he keeps his hands in the game.

As far as I’m concerned that’s CNN’s real problem; their poor judgement in putting a political commentator in the role of show host. That’s not journalism. It’s advocacy…at least for as long as Van Jones is still being primarily used by CNN for his opinion.

Megyn Kelly to CNN Would Be A Risk For Both

Posted in CNN, FNC on December 3, 2016 by icn2

This post comes a little late but my mom is in the hospital with a coronary condition so I have not had the time to write. 

A couple of days ago Drudge posted a story that Jeff Zucker was going all out to poach Megyn Kelly from FNC. The motivation behind the leaking of this to Drudge would be juicy indeed. Which camp did the deed and why?

But I am instead going to write about why this would probably be a bad deal for both, but for vastly different reasons.

For CNN the risks and unknowns are greater than they are for Kelly. In order…

  • According to Drudge, Zucker can’t afford to outbid Fox so instead he is trying to entice Kelly by offering a very wide greater than CNN networks platform and a huge promotion campaign. CNN has a decidedly mixed record on this score. The network threw oodles of money behind a campaign to promote Anderson Cooper; a campaign which failed to deliver the ratings the network hoped for and drew much ridicule for the alleged cost.
  • Zucker is taking a bigger risk than necessary if he does things this way. Despite all the glamour shots, all the glowing articles, all the off network promotional appearances, all the hype (Some of it deserved. Some not)…the fact is it is a huge unknown whether Megyn Kelly’s FNC star power transfers off that network. Given the lackluster ratings her Fox broadcast prime time special turned in, this is also a question Fox may be asking itself. The stigma of partisan cable news is very powerful and makes it tough to broaden one’s profile to other less ideological platforms (see: Maddow, Rachel).
  • But even if it did transfer, the chances CNN could come anywhere close to getting the ratings FNC gets with Kelly are almost nil. CNN will almost certainly be overpaying for Kelly and not getting the payoff FNC gets.
  • Zucker’s  instincts regarding talent is checkered at best. For every winning move he has made, there have been two or three which have detonated spectacularly in his face. Alexis Glick being forced down the Today Show’s throat. Going all in on Kate Bolduan and Chris Cuomo because of their on air chemistry only to quietly sever that tie when it was obvious he was very very wrong.
  • Some could see this as a move to weaken FNC. It is true that Kelly is the prime time heir apparent to O’Reilly who has maybe a couple of TV years left in him so losing both could cause trouble. But this is predicated on the notion that FNC can’t adjust. As we have seen with Tucker Carlson positively flourishing in Greta Van Susteren’s  old timeslot, an apparent loss is not necessarily a loss.
  • If CNN comes within a half of FNC’s offer, that will put more than a few CNN telents’ noses out of joint.With justification.

For Kelly the risks are potentially just as high as CNN but for vastly different reasons.

  • She will not make as much money as she could at FNC. Exposure is nice but salary is the biggest barometer of stature in this industry.
  • No matter how much cross platform exposure Zucker throws Kelly’s way, the unavoidable fact is Zucker has made the network one where there is no leader. No star. No anchor. Instead it is a team of rotating cogs that can be swiped in and out as needed. There is no true pecking order among the top talent. Anyone can dominate at any time given the situation. It isn’t Anderson Cooper’s network. Nor is it Wolf Blitzer’s, Don Lemon’s, Jake Tapper’s, or anyone else’s. That especially includes Megyn Kelly who as the new kid on the block would have to prove herself all over again to justify the prominence Zucker would force down the viewer’s throat. At FNC she could become the face of the  network once O’Reilly is gone. At CNN she will always be one of a crowd.

Kelly would be better off at a broadcast network than she would at CNN, though not do as well as she would staying at FNC. CNN will likely never get the intended payoff it hopes for by luring her over. This is not a great deal for either.

CNN vs. Morning Joe…

Posted in CNN, MSNBC on October 20, 2016 by icn2

In the latest in a long running battle, CNN’s Dylan Byers takes aim at Morning Joe yet again for the “favorable” coverage it gave Donald Trump…

Scarborough provided several pieces of evidence to back up the claim that they had been tough on Trump, including that, “I said from the beginning I would never vote for him, I said I was voting for Jeb Bush then I said I was voting for John Kasich” and that in early December 2015 he and Brzezinski had compared Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims to Germany in 1933.

Those limited examples are a fig leaf for the months of positive coverage and support that Scarborough and Brzezinski gave to Trump in the period of time Kristol was referring to: late 2015 and early 2016.

As CNNMoney and others have documented, Scarborough and Brzezinski — who visited privately with Trump on multiple occasions during the primaries — were overwhelmingly supportive of the Republican candidate during that time, consistently praising his unconventional campaign and defending him from his critics.

Scarborough, especially, spoke about Trump in glowing terms, praising him as “a masterful politician.” The Washington Post wrote that Trump had received “a tremendous degree of warmth from the show,” and that his appearances on the show, in person and over the phone, often feel like “a cozy social club.”

In February, several NBC News and MSNBC journalists, reporters and staffers told CNNMoney there was widespread discomfort at the network over Scarborough’s friendship with Trump and his increasingly favorable coverage of the candidate.

There’s a reason why this charge can still be hurled at Morning Joe…just as it could be hurled at Fox and Friends…just as it could be repeatedly hurled at CNN itself…

There’s more than enough available evidence to back up the idea that the media became obsessed with Trump that it lost its perspective for much of the primary season and into the summer. While I rarely agree with the usually wrong Bill Kristol, he’s right here; any attempt to say that Morning Joe was tough on Trump in late 2015 and early 2016 is essentially an inaccurate characterization of history.

Not that Byers should be the one squawking here. CNN’s hands are much more dirty than Morning Joe’s when it comes to their coverage of Trump. Byers knows this, of course…yet he throws darts at Morning Joe anyways. Lame…

The Brazile Email Controversy Explained?

Posted in CNN on October 13, 2016 by icn2

We may have an explanation for what happened with the Donna Brazile debate question email fiasco and it comes from Jake Tapper. NewsBusters’ Matthew Balan spotted it

On WMAL’s Mornings on the Mall on Thursday, CNN’s Jake Tapper revealed his “understanding” about what happened surrounding the leaked town hall question to the Hillary Clinton campaign: “This was a Roland Martin follow-up. So, my understanding is that he, or…somebody on his team got that question to Donna Brazile.” Brazile apparently then sent the question to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, as revealed by Wikileaks’ release of John Podesta’s e-mails on Tuesday.


The journalist repeated his condemnation of the whole Brazile leak near the end of the segment: “People at CNN take it very, very seriously; and to have somebody who does not take it seriously — to have us partner with that person; and then, they do something completely unethical and share it with Donna Brazile, who then shares it with the Clinton campaign, it’s horrifying and very, very upsetting, and….I condemn it in no uncertain terms. It’s awful.”

If Tapper’s version of events is correct this wasn’t CNN’s fault at all. But, if it wasn’t CNN’s fault at all and the question that got leaked to the Clinton campaign wasn’t even one of CNN’s questions, why lack of candor and a proper explanation of what happened? This wasn’t CNN’s doing so it’s most definitely in CNN’s interest to get it out there that it wasn’t their doing. And yet, days after this erupted, CNN, as an organization, wasn’t the one who was forthcoming, it was one of the moderators of the debate.

Why, CNN? Why? You could have nipped this in the bud quickly but your weak opaque public comments on the matter only made it worse. The network just made life more difficult for itself when, apparently, it wasn’t at fault.

CNN Should Investigate Brazile Email Ramifications…But It Won’t…

Posted in CNN on October 12, 2016 by icn2

The Hill’s Joe Concha writes about the Donna Brazile debate question email…

A few more questions: If Brazile has access to questions from time to time — again, her words — does Paul Begala have the same access, who runs a pro-Clinton super PAC? Does Ana Navarro, a Jeb Bush supporter and one of Trump’s harshest critics?

An internal investigation and some actual attempts at accountability would go a long way in solving this obvious breach. Remember, an internal investigation was conducted by the law firm of Paul, Weiss soon after the Roger Ailes sexual harassment suit by Gretchen Carlson over at Fox News. Will CNN do the same? Will anyone else in media outside of this space even demand one?

Sure. I will.

This is a no brainer to investigate. I don’t claim to have any inside knowledge of how this went down but there’s more than enough circumstantial evidence that optically points in one direction and one direction only. If that direction is invalid, the only way for it to be properly invalidated is to do an investigation.

But CNN won’t do that and even if it did the outcome would leave us with whetted appetites and nothing more. We can safely assume CNN is not interested in getting to the bottom of this and certainly isn’t interested in doing due diligence here. How can we be so certain of this? Two words: Fareed Zakaria.

The Zakaria investigation, and I use the term very loosely to describe that whitewash, set a benchmark for CNN. A bad one, yes…but a benchmark nontheless. The case against Zakaria was more solid than the case against Brazile here. With Brazile we have conjecture and assumption based on what her email said but what we don’t necessarily have is a smoking gun. With Zakaria there were numerous smoking guns in the articles he wrote and the transcripts of his show which at the very least showed Zakaria was guilty of patch writing. Some would argue the evidence was substantial enough to point to an even worse offense.

And yet despite all the available evidence, the best CNN could do is suspend Zakaria while it did an investigation, not release the results, and conclude they were satisfied with the way things stood.

Given all that does anyone believe CNN is going to do anything with Brazile?

This plays out in one of two ways:

A) CNN informs Brazile she’s no longer welcome back at the network and proceeds to hire an outside firm to dig into this situation to find the culprit or culprits.

B) The network ignores it, and by doing so, tacitly states it has no issue with collusion between its employees and presidential campaigns.

That’s the choice.

No. There’s a third option…

C) CNN informs Brazile she’s no longer welcome back at the network at some point down the road but does not launch an investigation. In effect CNN passive aggressively runs out the clock on Brazile while not publicly appearing to take any action.

This is the route I expect CNN to take.

Monkey See…or…If You Can’t Beat ‘Em…Steal ‘Em…

Posted in CNN on October 3, 2016 by icn2

Let’s see…Jeff Zucker said Buzzfeed isn’t a legitimate news organization. So of course he goes and hires away a bunch of those “poseurs”…as the Huffinton Post’s Michael Calderone scooped today…

BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski and his scoop-driven political research team are joining CNN during the final, frenetic stretch of the 2016 election and beyond.

Kaczynski, 26, has been one of the standout reporters of the campaign season as his K-File team has consistently broken news through deeply mining candidates’ past statements and actions. Three other members of the team ― BuzzFeed deputy politics editor Kyle Blaine and reporters Nate McDermott and Christopher Massie ― are making the jump with him.

The hiring of Kaczynski and company is a major coup for CNN and follows a recent spat between network chief Jeff Zucker and BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith. In August, Zucker said BuzzFeed wasn’t a “legitimate” news organization, prompting Smith to criticize the network for boosting Trump in the pursuit of ratings. The mini-exodus also comes amid questions about BuzzFeed’s commitment to original reporting following a recent reorganization.

CNN Takes To The Air…

Posted in CNN on August 18, 2016 by icn2

CNN announced a new drone program today. I am very curious how this will be utilized given the restrictions and limitations of drones and the redundancy of news helicopters in a world of 24/7 breaking news.


As the news industry leader in the development of technology used in newsgathering, CNN announces today the launch of CNN Aerial Imagery and Reporting (CNN AIR). For the first time in the company’s history, CNN will have a designated Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) unit with two full-time UAS operators to fully integrate aerial imagery and reporting across all CNN networks and platforms, along with Turner Broadcasting and Time Warner entities.

“CNN’s cutting-edge development of technology to enhance the way we tell stories is a part of our DNA,” said Terence Burke, Senior Vice President of National News. “We are proud to continue the tradition with CNN AIR, and to establish a unit that will expand our technological capabilities for newsgathering.”
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Ashleigh Banfield Jumps to HLN…CNN fills void with John King Election Show…

Posted in CNN on August 18, 2016 by icn2

HLN announced that Ashleigh Banfield is moving to HLN where she’ll take over the 8pm slot being vacated by Nancy Grace.

HLN Executive Vice-President Ken Jautz made the announcement this morning…

I’m very pleased to announce that Ashleigh Banfield is joining HLN.

Ashleigh’s new show will air live, M-Thu, 8–9 pm ET, and will premiere on Monday, October 17. She will bring her legal experience and views to HLN prime, tackling the day’s most pressing social and legal issues mixed with her own passionate point of view and spirited conversation.

Ashleigh and her distinct journalistic style is the perfect fit as we continue to refocus on our news roots and increase our live hours of programming.

Please join me in welcoming Ashleigh to the HLN family.

To fill the 12 noon hour CNN will be slotting John King for an election related hour that will run…wait for it…through the election.

Fisking The Fisking…

Posted in CNN on August 14, 2016 by icn2

NewsBusters’ Tom Blumer writes about a difference in reporting between Reuters and CNN regarding whether the Secret Service talked to Trump or not regarding his “Second Ammendment, people” comment.

Well, since I have written “Second Amendment people” here, I guess I need to fire up the coffee pot for the imminent Secret Service visit. What rubbish.

Unfortunately, both outlets are spinning the Trump campaign’s response to make it look as if the campaign acknowledges that Trump’s comments have the potential to “incite violence,” even though they didn’t “mean to.” Horse manure. The campaign has recognized no such thing, nor should it, nor should any person who understands English. The words “Second Amendment people” don’t incite violence any more than the words “First Amendment people” or “Constitution-following people” would.

The press and the Clinton campaign (but I repeat myself) are engaging in yet another attempt at language suppression. It’s another example of what George Orwell’s 1984 referred to as Newspeak, the modern version of which in this instance is trying to brainwash people into believing that any time a person says the magic words “Second Amendment,” that person is himself or herself violent or is encouraging others to take violent action.

Don’t wait by the TV waiting for CNN to retract its report about what Reuters has asserted didn’t happen.

I wasn’t originally going to write about this until I saw this story make it out like Reuters totally and completely invalidated Scuitto’s account.

It didn’t. Not even close.

The problem here, which Newsbusters conveniently fails to pick up on, is that both the Reuters story and Sciutto’s account can be true. There is enough of a delta between both accounts to make them accurate.

I’m going to quote the part of Sciutto’s reporting on the air which NB highlighted which gets to the heart of the CNN account.

An official from the United States Secret Service tells me that it has contacted, has spoken with the Trump campaign regarding those comments, those comments yesterday on the Second Amendment. In fact, I’m told there has been more than one conversation with the campaign since the candidate made those comments. In addition, I’m told by the Secret Service that the Trump campaign’s response was that Donald Trump did not mean to incite violence.

And here’s the Reuters version…

a federal official familiar with the matter told Reuters that there had been no formal conversations between the Secret Service and the Trump campaign.

I highlighted the word “formal” because its use is probably not an accident.

Sciutto’s reporting never said there were “formal conversations”. All Sciutto said was that someone from the Secret Service spoke with someone in the campaign about it…more than once.

The difference is, in this case, a legal one. A formal discussion means one in an official capacity with official notes and a record of the contact. “Speaking with someone in the campaign” about it could mean anything from the verbal equivalent of a nudge in the ribs to a finger wag.

So Scuitto could be right…and Rueters could be right. The Secret Service or some element of the Service could have had a backchannel discussion with elements of the Trump campaign to the effect of “Hey, knock that off…that’s not good” and it would not rise to the level of a “formal” investigation of the matter the way the Service would traditionally handle a potential threat to a presidential candidate.

It’s hardly the open and shut final say Newsbusters makes it out to be.

How To Have A Short Career At CNN…Shorter Than You Expected…

Posted in CNN on August 4, 2016 by icn2

Be a CNN freelancer grunt with an itchy social media trigger finger… (via Romenesko)

I actually work for CNN and can tell you many, many people there loved crooked Hillary, but not me. Not this guy. I see what a future will look like with a Clinton presidency and we can’t have it. Let’s put Trump in the white house 2016

Well okay then. Do me a favor and say hello to Octavia Nasr and Jim Clancy, ok?

Jeff Zucker Interview…

Posted in CNN on August 2, 2016 by icn2

Variety’s Ramin Setoodeh has a long interview with Jeff Zucker.

It’s a fairly tame interview. The hardest shot Setoodeh takes is here…

In June, CNN raised eyebrows when it added Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, to its payroll as a commentator. “The reason we hired Corey is that now that we are in the general election, I think it’s really important to have voices on CNN who are supportive of the Republican nominee,” says Zucker. “It’s hard to find a lot of those. Our competitors tried to hire him too.” Zucker doesn’t agree with criticism that Lewandowski is offering talking points instead of analysis. “I actually think he’s done a really nice job,” Zucker says. “He’s come under a much greater spotlight because of who he is, and the relationship he’s had with the media. As a result, people are going to be more critical.”

Even as shots go this one is pretty tame because it totally ignores the story that Lewandowski is still on Trump’s payroll with his severance package that he has a vested interest in not seeing diminish should he say something the notoriously vindictive Trump doesn’t like. Ripping Manafort on air doesn’t qualify.

Then there’s this…

Some of CNN’s naysayers complain that the network leans too heavily on stories that grab eyeballs. But Zucker argues that he doesn’t need to choose between ratings and less-splashy journalism. “There’s a misconception we’re doing this all for ratings,” he says. “We’re covering all of the news. It’s just not necessarily on television anymore.” He points to online stories of world events that may not make the daily broadcast for CNN’s U.S. airwaves, and CNN International employs a robust team of reporters all over the world. “We run a very profitable international business and are pleased about that,” says Tony Maddox, the managing director of CNN International.

This is why I take exception to the title of this article. How Jeff Zucker made CNN great again? That’s arguable, depending on your definition of “great”. If by “great” you mean more successful, profitable, higher rated…then yeah CNN is great again.

But at what cost?

What about CNN TV covering all of the major world stories? You know that thing CNN used to do but doesn’t do anymore.

Morale may be up but why is that? Is it because staff bought in to the above definition of “great”?

CNN TV used to stand apart from its cable news brethren because it covered more of the world more of the time. Now it has fallen in line with its competitors and does less with more.

That’s a pretty steep price to be “great” again. You sacrifice long term viability and relevance to achieve short term gain.

I keep circling back to one factoid in Zucker’s re-invention of the network…that its TV wing isn’t covering the news like it used to. It’s not just about going deep on a few stories…it’s the wholesale ignoring of major world events because, while newsworthy, they just won’t give the eyeballs that covering Trump ad nauseum will…that going berserk over MH370 did.

This is why I choke on Zucker’s suggestion that it’s not about ratings. OF COURSE IT IS ABOUT RATINGS. The stories that rate well get covered hard and long. The ones that don’t rate as well get shoved to online. Stories are hyped days in advance thanks to CNN’s countdown clock abuse. I just saw one today counting down the days until the election. This isn’t about some great public service CNN is performing for its viewers. No, the reasons for cluttering up dayside with countdown clocks is far more cynical. It’s to hype the story…to bait viewers…to drive ratings.

The idea that online is an acceptable substitute for major world stories should be anathema to a TV news network. Zucker can talk about digital until he’s blue in the face but the bottom line is CNN TV is still the golden goose. If Time Warner suddenly decided to fold up CNN TV tomorrow, CNN Digital will start dying a slow death. Nobody outside of maybe CNN thinks CNN Digital can stand on its own. Online news is still dominated by traditional journalism based entities like The Times, like The Post, like The Guardian, like The Financial Times, like The Wall Street journal. Even in its portal dominanting heyday was dominant not because it could stand on its own but because it had then powerhouse Microsoft to drive traffic.

A quick show of hands. When searching for news of the day, how many people first head to

I rest my case.

This from Zucker is noteworthy…

“I don’t think Vice and BuzzFeed are legitimate news organizations,” he says. What would he call them? “They are,” he says with a mischievous grin, “native advertising shops. We crush both of them. They are not even in our same class.”

But they are most definitely also a huge potential threat to CNN Digital especially where Millenials are concerned. Like it or not CNN Digital is probably more viewed as “old media” by Millenials even though it really isn’t, whereas Vice and Buzzfeed are considered “new media” and probably hipper. Zucker has to squash that notion, thus the over the top acerbic put down.

And don’t think Zucker doesn’t know this. How else can you explain this?

CNN has started its own digital company targeted to millennials. It’s called “Great Big Story,” the only product the network has ever launched without its trademark letters. GBS has its own logo — a red rocket ship.

CNN is supposed to be THE brand. The one that drives the traffic to digital. And yet, when launching a new media venture to counter Buzzfeed and Vice, CNN opted to leave its strongest asset, its brand, on the bench? What’s that tell you?

Pilot time for S.E. Cupp?

Posted in CNN, HLN on July 17, 2016 by icn2

It appears HLN did a pilot for a show with SE Cupp. Or at least that’s the inference that can be drawn from this video open which someone stupidly posted on Vimeo. Say goodbye to your job fool if CNN ever successfully traces it.

CNN does a lot of pilots a year and almost all of them never make it to air…at least not in their pilot form. So that’s not useful info that HLN shot a pilot. But who gets to do a pilot is very useful information because it means it’s someone CNN wants to give a push to.

So it would be reasonable to assume CNN wants to leverage Cupp…at least on HLN.

Update: Predictably, the video has been yanked…

CNN GOP Convention Coverage Plans

Posted in CNN on July 13, 2016 by icn2

CNN announced its GOP convention coverage plans…



Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, Jake Tapper, Dana Bash, Chris Cuomo, and Don Lemon to anchor weeknight America’s Choice 2016 coverage

JULY 13, 2016 (Washington, D.C.) – On Saturday, July 16, CNN will kick off its special two-week coverage of both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions with comprehensive multiplatform reporting from the network’s anchors, political correspondents and reporters.

CNN will deliver 24-hour, around-the-clock coverage during both convention weeks live from Cleveland and Philadelphia.
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