Archive for the CNN Category

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.

MSNBC vs. CNN vs. Scarbrough vs. CNN’s Media Team

Posted in CNN, MSNBC on February 17, 2016 by icn2

Well this is rapidly getting very convoluted. In a must read, The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove writes about all the crap flying around about Joe Scarborough and Donald Trump and CNN and MSNBC.

Trump has surely become the media equivalent of crack over the past eight months—nowhere more so than on Morning Joe.

According to data from the media monitoring service TVEyes, the MSNBC program has mentioned Trump’s name more frequently than any other cable show since his June 2015 announcement of candidacy—2,414 times compared to 2,181 on New Day and 1,472 on Fox & Friends; this, despite the fact that MSNBC programs as a whole have mentioned the thatch-roofed billionaire less frequently (9,749 times) than Fox News (10,446) and CNN (16,308).

Yet Scarborough, Brzezinski and MSNBC executives are targeting their cable rival for special scorn.
They suspect that CNN’s aggressive policing of their professional ethics—by Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter, a respected former media writer for the New York Times, and CNN senior media reporter Dylan Byers, who joined the cable network last September from Politico—have less to do with legitimate journalistic inquiry than a corporate desire to inflict damage on MSNBC’s politically influential morning show.

“I do think that these attacks are unfair,” Brzezinski told The Daily Beast. “They make you wonder what they’re really about.” Calling her co-host “the best prognosticator and analyst on television,” she added, “I have never seen any relationship that he has with a politician on the left or the right ever get in the way of him being able to offer accurate predictions. Ever.”

And then there’s this…

“I just find it fascinating that they actually hired independent journalists who then become extensions of CNN,” an angry Scarborough told The Daily Beast. “They get their paychecks from CNN and then attack the very news show that has been the top priority of their boss [CNN President Jeff Zucker] to beat.

And this…

A CNN spokesman fired back: “Joe Scarborough does not get to choose who covers MSNBC and Morning Joe, and it’s dangerous for him to suggest otherwise. His conspiracy theories and attempts to disqualify our media team from doing its job are both disturbing and peculiar.”

There’s quite a few moving parts here that need to be analyzed…

1) Joe Scarborough is not a straight news guy. He’s a POV guy and always has been. The rules are different for POV guys. Most of the charges being thrown at Scarborough vis a vis Trump…EVEN IF TRUE…don’t have sticking power precisely because of that. Sean Hannity has his favorites and it’s pretty obvious who he cozies up to on his show. But he hasn’t gotten 1/2 the scrutiny this election cycle that Scarborough has the past few weeks even though they are essentially occupying the same space in the Cable News spectrum. The same thing goes for most other POV hosts. So, I think it’s fair for Scarborough to complain about the coverage he’s gotten…especially since nobody has produced anything close to a smoking gun here.

2) I said it the other day and I’ll repeat it now. CNN is NOT the New York Post. They do not do hatchet stories because that would totally undermine their brand if they went the yellow journalism route. I believe MSNBC and Scarborough are totally barking up the wrong tree here in accusing CNN of deliberately targeting Scarborough because he’s a competitor. There’s only one network I know of that has ever sanctioned that kind of behavior and its first initial is not C or M.

3) That doesn’t mean I’m letting CNN off the hook, particularly Byers. He does seem to be making much ado about nothing. But that only suggests superficial sloppy journalism…not a conspiracy theory of network on network violence. CNN thinks it’s people should do their job. Fine. Have them do it better than insinuation and innuendo in lieu of cold hard facts that prove a point.

MSNBC’s Donald Trump Campaign Advertisement…and CNN Screw Job…

Posted in CNN, MSNBC on February 16, 2016 by icn2

Senior Morning Joe Producer Jesse Rodriguez tweeted this out earlier this morning…

NEWS: Joe & Mika will moderate a town hall with Donald Trump airing in prime time tomorrow at 8pmET @MSNBC

Just Trump? Nobody else?

First of all how can Joe and Mika moderate a one person forum? What the hell is there to moderate?

Second of all, how exactly does this put to rest the background noise that Joe Scarborough is in the tank for Trump? Scarborough spent last week fending off Dylan Byers and others over charges that he and his show have lost their bearings vis a vis Trump. And now there’s this announcement which will just intensify the scrutiny level.

Look, I get MSNBC here. Trump means ratings. MSNBC wants ratings. An hour of Trump gets it that.

MSNBC also gets to poke a sharp stick in CNN’s eye since this forum will air opposite the first night of CNN’s own two night GOP town hall. NBC at least privately must be guffawing since CNN opportunistically swooped in and picked up its GOP debate after the RNC stupidly cut NBC loose. Paybacks are a bitch, Jeff.

Trump benefits because he gets to vape on MSNBC while his opponents are on CNN’s air Wednesday and then he gets to vape again the next night on CNN. It’s a win win for him. It’s a loser for his opponents on the first night though and I imagine the campaigns for Carson, Cruz, and Rubio are complaining privately to NBC News right now. I would imagine the RNC would be too except they burned that bridge already and they have nobody but themselves to blame for the state of affairs between themselves and NBC News after they blamed them for what the independently run CNBC did with that disaster of a GOP debate.

But it still plays out badly for MSNBC from an optics standpoint. MSNBC would love to get more GOP candidates on its air (as would NBC). But the only thing they may be able to do for the rest of the campaign season is get Trump and only Trump and only because it’s Joe and Mika who are currently being accused of being too cozy with the Donald.

That’s what the critics would say anyways. And there’s not much factual evidence lying around pointing to an alternate scenario.

Byers vs. Scarborough…

Posted in CNN, MSNBC on February 12, 2016 by icn2

Mediaite’s Joe Concha writes about a Dylan Byers article about Joe Scarborough…

There are nothingburgers in this business served up as yuge entrees of behind-the-scenes insight.

And then there was the whole bowl of wrong CNN’s Dylan Byers just cooked up today in his column on the relationship between Joe Scarborough and Donald Trump for CNN Money.

To review, Byers claims through his unnamed sources at 30 Rock that Scarborough’s cozy relationship with the GOP frontrunner is causing “increasing discomfort” over at MSNBC. One big nugget offered up by Byers’ reporting is that Scarborough has actually stayed at a Trump resort in Palm Beach, Florida during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays in the past. Talk about cheap, pointless and a clear need for a chiropractor given all that stretching on the writer’s part: Trump owns dozens of properties in cities and resort towns around the world.

So is Byers actually insinuating that this revelation equals some kind of quid-pro-quo between Trump — who is worth billions and doesn’t exactly need Scarborough’s guest fees to survive — and Scarborough, who was vacationing with his family, has some cash to spend given the millions he earns every year, and chose a top-ranked resort in his home state?

This is complicated. For one thing Byers and Scarborough got into a Twitter spat earlier in the week regarding Byers’ reporting. So you have to view today’s article through that prism. And Concha and Byers have a history too with Concha being critical of Byers, not without ample justification in my view, so it’s impossible to not view Concha’s take down with that in mind.

That said, on the stories Byers serves up to question Scarborough’s position vis a vis Trump, I find the argument to be some pretty weak sauce. There’s not much there to justify the argument that Scarborough is compromised.

Where I do think Concha gives Byers short shrift is on the notion that some employees at MSNBC are looking at Scarborough sideways over Trump. I think there probably are, just like there are no doubt CNN employees that now look at Fareed Zakaria sideways since his plagiarism accusations surfaced. The question is who at MSNBC is looking at Scarborough sideways and just how high up are they? If it’s just run of the mill talent and staffers but not the execs, this story is indeed a nothingburger. But we don’t know that level of detail so it’s impossible to judge.

What I don’t find persuasive at all is the idea that this is some sort of CNN hatchet job at a competitor. CNN isn’t the New York Post. Yes, there are fundamental optics issues that are ripe for exploitation for CNN to have a media team that covers its competition and NBC and Scarborough are both playing that up because it’s such an obvious counterattack approach to take. You question your critic’s motivation without having to address the story directly. It’s such an easy line of attack to take. And Byers is an easy target because of past transgressions. But that doesn’t make it a valid line of attack given the lack of available evidence that points to such a motivation.

CNN Layoffs…

Posted in CNN on February 10, 2016 by icn2

CNN Commentary notes that the network just laid off a bunch of people at its International Desk…

Deborah Rayner, the SVP of international newsgathering for CNN, broke some painful news to the staffers of the international desk on Monday, according to sources.

According to our sources, the entire international desk based in Atlanta was laid off and encouraged to apply for new jobs and positions. The international desk is tasked with coordinating the network’s newsgathering and to work with its international correspondents.

This move is seen as part of the network’s restructuring, and some of the work is expected to be taken up by employees out of the network’s London and Hong Kong bureaus.

Yes, CNN Has Gone Off The Countdown Clock Rails…

Posted in CNN on February 10, 2016 by icn2

New Republic’s Alex Shepard is the latest to note CNN’s Countdown Clock addiction…

Yesterday, CNN ran a countdown clock to the start of today’s New Hampshire primary. This morning, CNN ran a countdown clock to the start of its coverage of said primary, at 4pm. At 4pm, CNN ran a countdown clock to when the first exit polls would come in, at 5pm. At 5pm, CNN ran a countdown clock to when the first polls would close, at 7pm. At 7pm, it ran a countdown clock to when all polls would close, at 8pm. At 8pm, it will probably start a countdown clock to the South Carolina primary.

The worst thing about all of these clocks is that none of them have been particularly accurate! Yes, CNN’s coverage did begin at 4pm, but exit polls didn’t come in until well after 5pm, and as of 7:30pm, we still haven’t seen any primary results, which CNN has been teasing for hours. I would be upset that the countdown clocks haven’t been accurate, except the clocks are so clearly meaningless—though in an almost profound, Beckett-ian sort of way—that it doesn’t matter, because CNN’s endless countdown clocks are proof that nothing matters in this cold, senseless universe.

Everyone knows I have a long time hatred for CNN’s countdown clock overuse. I’ve been squawking on Twitter about it for months. Now others are jumping on the network.


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