Archive for the CNN Category

More Zucker Analysis…

Posted in CNN on April 25, 2016 by icn2

The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple takes aim at Jeff Zucker over his Guardian interview…

Zucker told the Guardian that CNN was holding Trump’s “feet to the fire” and cited a town hall event in which Anderson Cooper fired tough questions at the candidate. And he spoke of an evolving approach to doing cable news: “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.”

Bolding added to dispute a talking point: Sure, TV news may be focusing its coverage more on just a couple of stories, but that’s not to say that the treatment is “deeper.” It’s just often more repetitive.

Spin Control…

Posted in CNN on April 25, 2016 by icn2

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…

CNN US Has Lost Its Way…

Posted in CNN on April 5, 2016 by icn2

In the 1990s and 2000s there was always one network you could count on for news that occurred beyond our borders that didn’t include the Middle East or extremism. That network was CNN.

But CNN is a cable news network and cable news networks have become obsessed with US politics as a ratings driver. It’s gotten worse with each successive election since the Florida recount. 2004 was worse than 2000. 2008 was worse than 2004. 2012 was worse than 2008.

So far the 2016 election cycle has been magnitudes worse than anything that has come before in terms of how ridiculous the nets have become in their political coverage. The networks will now cover any piece of useless minutiae if its political. There’s little actual news that has come out of the succession of debates or town halls.

It’s mostly about entertainment. It’s about hyping the politics with countdown clocks being plastered constantly as they count down to events days in advance. It’s about showing video boxes in the lower right corner of the screen showing so and so candidate at such and such an event…and event the nets aren’t actually covering with sound. It’s about hiring armies of pundits with little substantive to say other than talk about who is doing what in the horse race.

This does little to inform the voter. You get probing questions that rarely generate anything other than non-answers or benign boiler plate answers. What you get is the spectacle…to titillate or inflame the viewer and keep them tuned in.

I cannot really fault either MSNBC or FNC. They never had reputations as global news operations covering the world. They were chiefly local (US bound) operations with target bureaus in a few select locations of the world who would send US talent overseas en masse for certain specific events.

But CNN was different. It was a global operation. It still is largely a global operation. But it is two operations; the domestic and the international editions. Over the past 10 years those operations have been increasingly separate in their coverage with CNN US sticking to US politics and certain world issues, mostly national security related or with a Middle East focus. But even then, when big news happened in the world, CNN US could still be counted on to cover it. Not this year.

This year is different. In its drive to gin ratings on the back of the 2016 election, CNN US has abdicated its role of bringing the big (non-Middle East, non-terrorism related) news of the world, particularly of a humanitarian nature, to US audiences.

It started with Cyclone Winston pulverizing Fiji. It was the worst natural disaster to ever hit the nation, leaving tens of thousands homeless. Months later Winston’s after effects still cripple the nation.

But where was CNN? CNN sent an army over to cover Paris and then Belgium. How many did it send to Fiji? One? Two? None? And for how long? A week? Less?

2016 has seen one of the worst El Ninos in a generation hit the Pacific. While CNN US has covered it occasionally in between its near nonstop politics coverage it has been almost entirely from the impact it was having on America.

Did you know that this El Nino has unleashed one of the worst if not the worst ever incidents of coral bleaching to impact the fragile Pacific reef system? The Great Barrier reef is being rapidly killed off. Fiji is having its own die off. And the damage is also killing off reefs in Indonesia as well. Those reefs feed the smaller fish who feed the larger fish or feed the apex predator fish and we feed off all of them. Regardless of the cause, it’s a cataclysmic event that will take a decade to recover from. If it can recover.

And where is CNN? It’s in Wisconsin. It’s ginning up more newsless debates, town halls, and political exclusives to entertain its audience.

But this El Nino isn’t just killing reefs which puts pressure on the world’s seafood supply and will exacerbate tensions in the South China Sea as countries go further out to fish for less and less. This El Nino has unleashed worst ever drought conditions in the central Pacific where islands used to having some level of rain most of the year have hardly seen any in months.

How bad is it? It’s so bad some of the island nations in Micronesia and the Marshall islands are in danger of running out of water. Palau, which is not officially part of Micronesia, has drought conditions so bad it’s literally in danger of running out of water in a matter of weeks.

Ponder that for a moment. A nation of tens of thousands with no tap water. None. Zero.

And where is CNN? Has it bothered to send anyone to cover this?

CNN US has lost its way. It is so addicted to the ratings politics provides that major news stories that impact the world have fallen to the wayside with either scant or no mention at all. It would not surprise me if CNN viewers were asked about any of these stories whether they could even say that they knew about these stories from watching the network. These were stories the network in years past would have covered. Not this year.

To quote a presidential candidate’s famous phrase…CNN, you’re fired!

Shots Fired…

Posted in CNN, FNC on April 1, 2016 by icn2

The AP’s David Bauder writes up some of the things Megyn Kelly says in an interview with Charlie Rose to air Sunday Morning on CBS.

Kelly takes another (more than deserved) shot at O’Reilly but expands her reach to include CNN…

“There should have been a moment of solidarity among journalists that night to say, ‘We will not allow ourselves to be bullied by a presidential front runner, even one as powerful and as ahead in the polls at that point as Trump was,'” Kelly said. “‘This is about journalism and the First Amendment, and we will put the debate moderator out on the stage that we think is appropriate.’ And I think it’s a slippery slope when we don’t stand shoulder to shoulder in those moments.”

CNN declined to comment on her remarks.

I’ll bet. This is, after all, the same network that couldn’t say no to the RNC after it emerged that other networks were trying to get the NBC debate.

Spin Control…

Posted in CNN on March 30, 2016 by icn2

The Huffington Post’s Michael Calderone writes up Jeff Zucker’s latest comments at a Town Hall on all the nervous Trump hand wringing by the media…

Speaking at Wednesday’s town hall, Zucker said there has been “too much handwringing” over the media’s coverage of Trump, according to sources.

CNN has also come under scrutiny for hiring two political commentators, Jeffrey Lord and Kayleigh McEnany, whose on-air roles seem to be primarily as Trump boosters and defenders.

In September, The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple reported that Trump’s campaign had passed along Lord’s name to CNN in an effort to counter what it considered to be an excess of “Jeb Bush-friendly analysis” on the network. Lord spent time defending Trump as a unpaid guest before he was hired as a paid contributor.

On Wednesday, Zucker said he’s “really comfortable” with Lord’s role at the network. The network chief touted CNN’s “tremendously diverse roster of analysts,” including Lord, as being a big part of the network’s success this election cycle.

Well from where I sit the media should always be introspective when it starts doing very heavy coverage of any event. But I do find Zucker’s comments to be rather self-serving. What else is he going to say? That CNN is out of whack covering Trump?

Donald? Donald Who?

Posted in CNN on March 16, 2016 by icn2

TVNewser’s Chris Ariens writes about a Jeff Zucker gathering with reporters and one subject worth noting came up…

Does CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker feel responsible for the rise of Donald Trump?

“I don’t, because he has been the front-runner of the Republican party since he announced last June,” said Zucker during an intimate lunch meeting with reporters today. Just as Hillary Clinton got the lion’s share of attention in the Democratic race early on, “the front-runner of the party is always going to get a disproportionate amount of attention,” he said.


Well, there’s disproportionate and then there’s totally “whacked out of balance even a blind man can see it” disproportionate…

Exhibit A: This chart courtesy of The New York Times’ Nicholas Confessore and Karen Yourish from a few days ago

NYT Chart

Mr. Trump earned $400 million worth of free media last month, about what John McCain spent on his entire 2008 presidential campaign. Paul Senatori, mediaQuant’s chief analytics officer, says that Mr. Trump “has no weakness in any of the media segments” — in other words, he is strong in every type of earned media, from television to Twitter.

The chart isn’t broken out via method or media distribution so we don’t know how much of this is just cable news but it does underscore just how out of whack Trump’s free media accumulation is compared to everyone else.

But back to Zucker…

Zucker also says Trump “has been much more available than many of the others who have been or are still in the race. Just because he says ‘yes’ and has subjected himself to those interviews, and [other candidates] don’t, I’m not going to penalize him for saying ‘yes.’”

This is somewhat disingenuous because Zucker is making a carve out for the number of appearances he’s made on their air vs. the amount of CNN’s rundown has been spent talking about Trump and his…ahem…”policies”. It’s one thing to say that candidate A has made themselves more available than anyone else. That’s somewhat fair, though it does raise the question about journalistic self-modulation; in other words CNN’s ability to figure out whether there’s actually news value to be had by all those appearances or whether it’s more akin to just giving him a platform to do whatever. But it’s something else entirely to not discuss whether CNN has been covering Trump more than other candidates because he generates ratings…which is tantamount to abdicating its editorial responsibility to filter out the chaffe from the substance.

It would be unfair to just single out CNN for scrutiny. All the cable nets have gone off kilter on Trump well beyond merely treating him as the frontrunner. They all lack self-restraint and they all have lept headlong over the line that divides cable news between the honorable role of information provider to the purely gratuitous realm of entertainment provider.

And nobody brought up the subject of Countdown Clock overkill to Zucker? Shame…

CNN’s 2016 Campaign

Posted in CNN on February 25, 2016 by icn2

The New York Times’ Nick Corasaniti writes about CNN’s Campaign 2016 coverage and manages to do so without bringing up countdown clocks…

Live town hall meetings are not a new invention in the televised coverage of presidential politics. But with anchors like Mr. Cooper moderating, fact-checking and bantering, CNN has turned the genre into a powerful supplement — if not antidote — to the often-acrimonious debates: long, seemingly informal conversations in which candidates can be pressed at length, but can also take the opportunity to get their points across without being sniped at or interrupted, and to show more than a little personality and charm.

They have also become a moneymaker for CNN: More than 2.3 million tuned into the Greenville town hall. And in the highest form of flattery, other networks, like MSNBC, have begun hosting similar events.

Yet the town halls are only one of the most visible ways that CNN has overhauled its campaign coverage, 18 months after Mr. Zucker said he decided to go “all in” on politics.

Committing $50 million more than it spent in 2012, CNN added 45 journalists to its political team. It doubled the size of its special events and logistics unit, making it possible to negotiate, plan and execute the town halls in a matter of days. Online, its political reporting has all but taken over the network’s home page.

Those resources have let CNN embark on one of the most aggressive campaign coverage plans, with reporters trailing every major presidential candidate and stationed in each early-nominating state.

“We don’t have to make choices anymore,” Mr. Feist said, about where to go or whom to cover.


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