Archive for the CNN Category

Data Wars?

Posted in CNN, FNC on April 30, 2015 by icn2

The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple writes about CNN disputing something Pew did in regards to web traffic data…

The sub-headline on the 2015 Pew Research Center study (State of the News Media) is a morale-killer for the folks at “Fox News Is a Leader Online.” Under that section, Pew noted that in January 2015, bested in unique visitors:

Web traffic data taken from a sample month, January 2015, shows leading the other two major cable news brands, according to data from the analytics firm comScore, with a total of about 55 million unique visitors. In the same month, drew around 50 million unique visitors. drew far fewer visitors (about 7 million) than the other two…

CNN doesn’t agree with the methodology and has asked Pew for a correction. Matt Dornic, a CNN spokesman, notes that Pew drew conclusions from one month of data for what’s otherwise a report featuring annual statistics. That’s not the only concern. In a fit of Web-metric geekery, Dornic argues that the data in the report:

Uses a custom entity, [E], for Fox News against raw site-level property metrics, [S] for This is not an apples-to-apples comparison since a custom entity may contain a collection of other URLs that remain hidden. As it turns out, we learned from our inquiry to comScore that Fox News’ custom entity is also comprised of a variety off-site traffic assignment letters (TALs) and, as such, is not truly the audience of but instead is assigned traffic from other sites that is reallocated back to Fox News even though the visitor did not consume said content on

The figure for used by Pew also fails to account for the company’s apps, he says. “The data significantly misrepresents CNN’s digital audience,” he writes.

Basically, CNN is saying FNC’s data lead in the Pew survey comes from the equivalent of ballot box stuffing. It’s an interesting concept but if CNN is going to make the charge, it needs to show exactly how much traffic is being reallocated. For example, if removing the alleged reallocated traffic from the results doesn’t give CNN the lead again then it doesn’t matter whether gets reallocated traffic or not…it would still be #1.

Tapper Named SOTU Host…

Posted in CNN on April 24, 2015 by icn2

Jake Tapper has been named the new host of CNN’s State of The Union…

CNN announced Tapper’s promotion on Friday morning. He will take over the program in June; he’ll remain the channel’s chief Washington correspondent and the anchor of the weekday afternoon newscast “The Lead.”

Among his peers, Tapper is seen as an authority on politics, something a program like “State of the Union” demands. He received rave reviews when he was the interim anchor of ABC’s Sunday morning hour “This Week” in 2010.

“I couldn’t be more excited about this election season and the new platform I will have at CNN to cover it,” Tapper said in a statement. “‘State Of The Union’ has a rich tradition and I hope to not only build on its history but expand the definition of what a Sunday show can be.”

Don Lemon Profile…

Posted in CNN on April 21, 2015 by icn2

Vanity Fair’s Taffy Brodesser-Akner profiles Don Lemon…

Here was his chance. Each night, he hosted a panel of aviation experts and theorists and gave updates on searches, but soon the searches were over, and so the updates gave way to just talking, and the hour became the sort of hour at which CNN specializes: long conversations that took the place of actual news, of which there was usually none. From a pure ratings perspective, it was a smart bet. Lemon immediately began crushing poor Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC (still does) and even regularly held his own against Sean Hannity (ditto).

I wonder if anyone from FNC raised an eyebrow reading that last sentence?

Lemon has spent a lifetime so far out of sync with people’s expectations of him that he seems unconcerned with them, sometimes even oblivious to them: of how a black man should act, how a gay man should act, how a survivor of sex abuse should act. All this—high school, the black box—made him into the man he is today. Someone who has learned that there are no guidebooks for a man as ambitious as he is, and who has no fucks left to give about what anyone thinks of him.

“Let me put it this way,” says Jeff Zucker. “There’s certainly a lot of interest in Don Lemon, and that’s a good thing for Don and for CNN. You know, Don is a little bit of a lightning rod. Frankly, we needed a little bit of lightning.”

This is what has bugged me about CNN under Zucker…the notion that any publicity, even if it’s self-destructive, is a good thing. Moreover, it raises a question:

At what point does that lightning rod stop being a “free publicity benefit” and starts being an albatross that needlessly detracts from the news brand CNN wants to ultimately keep fruitfully cultivating?

Lemon’s executive producer, Jonathan Wald, told me that “none of the alleged dings at Don’s performance have hurt his credibility or his appeal.” Lemon’s gift, Wald says, is “having a conversation, and that’s really the guts of this show.” It’s the mantra of all of CNN: Keep going, keep talking. People don’t walk out on conversations.

Spoken like an insider who dines on their own dogfood. You dine on it long enough, you eventually lose sight that it’s dogfood you’re eating. I will stipulate that not all of the knocks on Lemon were justified. But the operative words there are “not all”. Some did connect. And for some, and I readily admit to being one, it did hurt his credibility.

I went and watched those clips again, and it turns out none of them are quite as dumb as advertised. The black-hole question wasn’t actually Lemon’s question; it was submitted by a viewer over Twitter, and he passed it along to an expert, calling it “preposterous.”

This ignores the elephant in the room. That Lemon labeled it as preposterous isn’t the out the article’s author makes it out to be. The central issue always was that the question was even asked in the first place. It made it all the way through, past the production staff, past Lemon, and out over the air. It was a network wide failure of gallingly huge proportions.

Anchors are the last gatekeepers between the network machine and the broadcast air. It is up to them to ensure the preposterous questions that, through some inexcusable decision making behind the scenes, make it to the anchor’s desk get stopped cold. Lemon didn’t do that. He should have. So his judgement deservedly gets called into question for that failure.

When I ask Lemon about his interview with the alleged Cosby victim and why he asked about the “usage of the teeth,” he gives me a long answer about how the incident started a conversation about sex abuse. But it didn’t do that, I tell him—it started a conversation about people who say the wrong thing to victims of sexual abuse. And shouldn’t he have known better? After all, he was a victim, too. He smiles and shrugs and eats his food. Later, after dessert, I ask him again, and finally I get the real answer: Lemon tells me that when he was a child and was being forced to perform oral sex on his abuser, he told that fucker that the next time, he’d bite his dick off, and that’s when Don Lemon stopped getting molested.

I’m not going to second guess Lemon’s decision making here. It would be wrong. I didn’t like the question and I didn’t like the subject matter and I didn’t like the timing. But I do appreciate Lemon’s reasoning at arriving at the decision he arrived at even though I disagree with the outcome.

There’s a thing we do now in the digital age where once we turn on someone, we find fault in everything they do, and in Don Lemon’s case it seems to come from a less noble place than his not insignificant imperfections. Sure, he’s said some dopey things, but lots of cable-news anchors say lots of dopey things. Why him?

The answer is a two parter. First, not all dopey things are created equal. Some are more toxic to a network than others which happen, get talked about for a day or two, and then fade into the recesses of history to be forgotten. Lemon has unfortunately been the victim of too many of the former and not enough of the latter. Not all of them were his fault and those that weren’t shouldn’t be held against him in my opinion.

Second, while all anchors may say dopey things…it is the repetition of dopey incidents that ultimately decides whether an anchor gets more attention or not. Sure, for some people, particularly those who have their own agendas to grind on…and I’m speaking of the ideologically inclined here, one or two dopey incidents are enough. But for the disinterested news junkies and the media writing corps in general it takes a continuing series of dopey incidents…a series such as has befallen Lemon. Or Rick Sanchez before him.

We turn on who we turn on, I guess, and we delight in other people’s mistakes, all the more so when there doesn’t appear to be much contrition or self-awareness about their impact. And anyway, no one is perfect.

Well I can’t speak for anyone other than myself but I don’t “delight” in Lemon’s mistakes. I want CNN to be known for the news it delivers not for the antics or mishaps of its talent. I do think that the author makes a very key point here though. It’s the lack of contrition or self awareness about their impact that is the key issue, at least for me.

Nobody’s perfect but we want our anchors self-aware of the mistakes they do make and to give an indication that a better course of action may have existed and that they’ll strive to do better. When that isn’t communicated to the viewer, some will naturally dismiss whatever the anchor tries to do because the viewer loses faith. That’s where I am.

CNN’s Political Muscle Flexing…

Posted in CNN on April 20, 2015 by icn2

The Hollywood Reporter’s Michael O’Connell and Kate Stanhope write about CNN’s recent political hiring spree…

“We have several dozen new employees covering politics for CNN that weren’t here six months ago,” says network senior vp and Washington bureau chief Sam Feist. “Under Jeff’s direction, we’re making a significant investment in covering this campaign. Our long-term goal is to build up our political team on TV and digital.”

Recent hires include ABC News’ Jeff Zeleny, Washington Post alum Nia-Malika Henderson, the L.A. Times’ Maeve Reston and Wall Street Journal veteran Sara Murray. Also joining the usual suspects — Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper and John King — in the political fray is Jake Tapper. CNN’s chief D.C. correspondent, the first big hire of the Zucker era, will be a focal point during his first presidential campaign since departing ABC News. Tapper’s The Lead already has become an election hub, most recently playing host to Republican candidate and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio the day after he formally entered the race.

The hope is that the poaching will help CNN close the ratings gap with perennial victor Fox News and further distance itself from third-place MSNBC. In 2012, right-leaning FNC averaged 363,000 in the news demo of adults 25-to-54 in the run-up to the re-election of President Obama, while left-leaning MSNBC averaged 239,000. CNN, which doesn’t align itself with either political perspective and suffered lows that year, averaged 189,000.

White House Correspondents Profile…

Posted in Al Jazeera, CNN, FNC, MSNBC on March 31, 2015 by icn2

Washington Life Magazine’s Virginia Coyne profiles a group of White House correspondents. Among them are several cable newsers including CNN’s Jim Acosta, FNC’s Ed Henry, NBC/MSNBC’s Chris Jansing, and Al Jazeera America’s Mike Viqueira. The story on the website is in-line PDF only so no quotes are coming since I’m wayyyy too lazy to transcribe it.

CNN Loses NLRB Appeal…

Posted in CNN on March 24, 2015 by icn2

The CWA put out a release noting that CNN lost its latest NLRB appeal on a very old case…

NLRB Throws Out CNN’s Joint Employer Challenge

Washington, DC – The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has rejected CNN’s reconsideration motion, which challenged the ruling that the cable news giant and a unionized subcontractor Team Video Services (TVS) were joint employers.

At issue is last September’s NLRB decision ordering CNN to compensate more than 300 employees who lost jobs and wages following the company’s phony reorganization to get rid of NABET-CWA-represented workers in Washington, D.C., and New York City. The NLRB had found that CNN and TVS were joint employers and CNN violated U.S. labor law by terminating its contracting relationship with TVS in December 2003.

In the order issued on Friday, a three-member panel said CNN’s reconsideration bid, “failed to raise any substantial argument not previously considered by the Board.” They wrote, “the evidence provides ample support for the Board’s finding that CNN and TVS had a joint employer relationship at the time of the unfair labor practices.”

“This company has dragged its feet every step of the way. But after more than a decade of delays, CNN is finally running out of options,” said CWA President Larry Cohen. “It’s time for CNN to follow the law and end the enormous damage to these employees and their families.”

Meanwhile, the workers continue to wait. A number of their colleagues have passed away as this case slowly made its way through the NLRB process. Workers have lost their homes, gone bankrupt and struggled to pay their medical bills.

“No worker should ever have to wait this long to see justice. Now again, we wait to see if CNN owns up or continues to stall. As a group we will never give up until all our members are made whole,” said Jimmy Suissa, who worked for CNN for 17 years.

In November 2008, an Administration Law Judge (ALJ) ruled in favor of NABET-CWA. The ALJ found, in part, that CNN had engaged in “widespread and egregious misconduct” and had demonstrated “a flagrant and general disregard for the employees’ fundamental rights.”

Yet, CNN appealed the ruling. Two years later, in October 2010, CWA filed another motion with the NLRB, calling on the board to give this case priority over all other pending cases. By this time the NLRB’s status was in jeopardy and was not resolved until late 2013.

Finally in September 2014, the NLRB affirmed the ALJ’s ruling. It ordered CNN to rehire about 100 workers fired in the 2003 reorganization and compensate about 200 more employees who stayed with the company without the benefits of a union contract. The order also called on CNN to resume bargaining with NABET-CWA Local 11 and NABET-CWA Local 31.

CNN Joins Alliance to Combat Google and Facebook in Ad Money War…

Posted in CNN on March 18, 2015 by icn2

The Guardian’s Mark Sweeny writes about a new group of media companies joining up to take on Facebook and Google in the lucrative online advertising Money wars…

The Guardian, the Financial Times, CNN, Reuters and the Economist have teamed up to pool their digital advertising space, to fight back against the drain of ad spend to tech giants such as Microsoft, Google and Facebook.

The initiative, called the Pangaea Alliance, will give brands access to more than 110 million online readers using a computerised, or programmatic, advertising system.

“Pangaea’s uniqueness lies in the quality of its partners,” said Tim Gentry, global revenue director of Guardian News & Media, publisher of the Guardian. “We know that trust is the biggest driver of brand advocacy, so we have come together to scale the benefits of advertising within trusted media environments.”

The global online display advertising market, worth an estimated $60bn (£41bn) according to WPP’s Group M, is increasingly becoming dominated by media owners that can offer giant scale to advertisers.


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