Archive for the CNN Category

CNN Must Drop Corey Lewandowski

Posted in CNN on July 13, 2016 by icn2

Today we are witness to a stark contrast in how two networks deal with conflicts of interest. One does it the right way. The other buries its head in the sand all in the name of ratings.

Yesterday, FNC put its contributor deal with Newt Gingrich on ice. The Newt-ster has been in the news again as a possible VP pick for Trump and FNC has been pretty ruthless in keeping conflicted contributors off its payroll. Just a couple days earlier the network did the same thing to Evan Bayh.

This is how it should be done. You get the whiff of a conflict of interest, you cut financial ties. You need to preserve your (real or perceived) image as an honest broker.

And then there’s CNN…

CNN hired Corey Lewandowski as a political commentator; CNN’s version of FNC’s contributor role. And if you believe the rumors it’s paying him 500 large for it.

Now, you can ask the obvious question that CNN apparently didn’t bother to ask itself: Is the network going to get anything of value out of him? Well so far the answer has been no. He’s been in full campaign mode even though he’s no longer campaign manager.

Worse, Lewandowski ducked questions about whether he signed either a confidentiality agreement or a non-disparagement agreement. What that means is even if Lewandowski disagreed with something Trump did or said…if he thought Trump was being a complete jerk…he could be legally restricted from saying so.

Tell me again, what CNN is getting for their 500 large with this guy?

The network has tried its best to ignore the whole controversy. It doesn’t want to answer the obvious questions regarding Lewandowski’s utility in this role. It would prefer if people would just move on.

Well, moving on just got more difficult.

Today, it was revealed that Lewandowski is collecting a severance from Trump. So that means while he’s on CNN, and being paid by CNN to talk about Trump, he’s getting paid by Trump.

But don’t tell that to CNN. Oh no. Corey’s not getting paid by Trump at all.

CNN source says @CLewandowski_ isn’t being “paid” by Trump camp while on CNN. He IS receiving severance, which will be disclosed on air.

Oh…well that makes it okay then, huh?


He’s getting paid CNN. Deal with it. Whether you want to call it severance or getting paid, the result is the same…

Lewandowski has a financial incentive NOT to say or do anything to ruffle Trump.

That is a classic conflict of interest.

CNN must drop Lewandowski. He’s poison for the network’s reputation as an honest news broker.

Of course CNN won’t do that because Jeff Zucker runs CNN and Jeff Zucker loves controversy. Jeff Zucker loves ratings even more than controversy. What Jeff Zucker also loves is damaging and diluting his network’s news brand which he has done repeatedly since he took over. Plus you have to figure Jeff Zucker is the one who brought him on board so if CNN were to drop him, that would reflect badly on himself.

So Lewandowski stays and CNN continues to look less and less reputable compared to FNC every day.

p.s. I would have included MSNBC with FNC except this happened earlier in the week. That interview never should have been allowed to air with Nicolle Wallace, who even admitted to her conflict of interest, conducting it. CNN splits hairs with “severance” and “paid”…MSNBC split them with “interview” and “conversation”.

Shots Fired…

Posted in CNN, MSNBC on June 9, 2016 by icn2

Politico did a podcast with Joe Scarborough. Glenn Thrush writes about it…

Scarborough sees the real culprit of Trump-enabling not at his own desk but at a rival network’s – and he related an off-air conversation with Trump about CNN boss Jeff Zucker that he believes to be revealing, and not in a good way. “He and Zucker are very close. Zucker personally calls Trump,” Scarborough said. “[Zucker] books Trump. “And Trumps laughs and calls Zucker ‘my personal booker’ because Zucker will call Trump. He hasn’t said that publicly, but he’s said it. I’ve said it publicly now. Trump will laugh every time Zucker calls.”

Related: Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher sheds further light on the subject

A source at CNN with direct knowledge tells us that Zucker “personally books all the candidates and big gets, and doles them out to whichever anchor he wants,” adding that individual shows’ producers “are barred from calling our own contacts personally” to book guests like Clinton and Trump.

According to this source, even if a candidate wants to appear on a different show, they are almost always steered to either the network’s Sunday tentpole State of the Union with Jake Tapper, their morning show New Day, or the Anderson Cooper-hosted AC360. “He wants to prop up the Sunday show and the morning show and the 8 pm show,” the source says.

Talk about micromanaging…

Erica Hill Back To HLN…

Posted in CNN, HLN, MSNBC on June 6, 2016 by icn2

TVNewser’s Chris Ariens writes that Erica Hill is leaving NBC for HLN/CNN…

“I’m thrilled to come home,” said Hill. “The opportunity to reunite with Ken and the smart, talented HLN/CNN family was one I couldn’t refuse. I am so excited to be a part of this new chapter at HLN.”

“Erica was a catalyst during our evolution from Headline News to HLN, and now, as we return to our news roots, she’s the obvious addition to our first-class on-air team,” added Ken Jautz, evp, CNN.

Hill will anchor her show from New York, beginning in the fall. This means HLN’s dayside shows will be anchored from Atlanta (Robin Meade), Los Angeles (Michaela Pereira) and New York (Hill).

It might be mildly surprising that Hill is coming back to HLN/CNN. What shouldn’t be any surprise is that Hill was leaving NBC; not after essentially being demoted off Weekend Today.

Touring CNN Airport Network…

Posted in CNN on June 2, 2016 by icn2

I retweeted this within minutes of Airline Reporter first tweeting out David Parker Brown’s article on the tour he got of CNN Airport Network because I follow its feed being a wannabe plane spotter and all. However I forgot about it by the time I got home and never mentioned it here. So thanks to J$ for the reminder tonight…

Because of the audience and viewing location, CNN Airport Network has to think things through a little differently. For people watching TV at home or on their devices, they aren’t too far away from the screen. At the airport, they might be sitting at a distance, so Airport Network makes sure that their font is larger and easily viewable from a distance — things you probably wouldn’t even notice until told (like now).

All the advertisements are done through the Airport Network and not pulled from the main CNN feed. The nice part for the advertisers is they know their audience: travelers. But are people watching?

According to Nielson ratings; yes… a lot. There are 250 million viewers per year and the average viewing time is 52 minutes. That is a lot of time. Most of that is not just people sitting and watching non-stop, but it is one of the many tools that people use for information and entertainment.

Inherent Optical Conflicts of Interest Result In Questions Being Asked…So What Else Is New?

Posted in CNN on June 1, 2016 by icn2

There’s been a bit of kefuffle over this story and whether there’s really anything to it or not.

Side note: If FTVLive is going to say that insiders said Zucker had Stelter downplay the Zakaria plagiarism story, the least it could do is link to an article that actually makes the accusation instead of linking to one that doesn’t.

Side note 2: I missed it originally but I think I should retroactively charge FTVLive a fee for letting them use my a little bit pregnant defense argument which I made a full day before it did.

But I digress…

The only reason I’m writing about this at all is to clarify a comment I made yesterday on Twitter about this whole mess.

Because its just not that big a story?


@brianstelter if it’s false then the bigger question. Why the hell did you not cover the story?

There are three questions at play here…

1) Is this a story?

2) Does it deserve to be covered on Reliable Sources?

3) Is the fact that it wasn’t discussed indicative of anything nefarious or did it amount to your basic editorial decision?

Is this a story? Sure. It’s a story. A documentary edited out necessary context and as a result framed things incorrectly. That is absolutely a story. How much of a story is open to interpretation. I don’t have a dog in this fight and I have not seen this documentary. Nor do I intend to. But I would want to know whether this edit, had it not been made, would have substantially altered the overall theme of the documentary? For example, if the entire doc is slanted pro-gun control and not an honest examination of the issue (whatever an honest examination would entail and that too is open to interpretation based largely on where you stand on the issue) then the edit amounts to nothing more than an asterisk because it doesn’t change the overall narrative any. On the other hand, if the overall film was indeed an attempt at an honest examination of the issue, the edit still amounts to an asterisk as it would stand as an example of a screw up that ideally wouldn’t alter the overall narrative of the film.

Either way, the edit is a story but it needs to be put in context and that context can be credibly argued as minimal based on what we currently know.

Which leads me to the second question; Does it deserve to be covered on Reliable Sources?

My feeling is it could have gone either way. I could make arguments in both directions based on the first question alone. However, the central problem is Reliable Sources, as is true for all media shows, cherry picks what to cover and what not to cover. I have hit Stelter before over subjects his show hasn’t covered…just as I hit Howard Kurtz for the same issue when it was his show. I think cable news is inherently conflicted as a platform for both media reporting and media criticism. There are always going to be arguments about what got discussed, what didn’t get discussed, and how often it was/wasn’t discussed. The fact that Kurtz tackled it is irrelevant because those two shows never mirror each other. One is always going to tackle stories the other chose not to and vice versa.

One weighting factor in deciding whether to cover it or not concerns what the story is about and who is involved. On a superficial level, the fact that Katie Couric was involved would tend to suggest that it’s a big story. But appearances can sometimes be misleading.

We need to examine Couric’s role here. Was she the editor? No. She didn’t make the cuts.

Was this a major documentary? No. I hadn’t even heard of it until this story popped up.

Is Couric still a major player or is her career trajectory on the wane? Well since leaving Today she essentially washed out as the face of CBS News. She then washed out trying the talk show route. She’s now working for Yahoo where her buzz level is so low she’s rarely mentioned in conjunction with it. She’s essentially become the female Dan Rather…wandering the wilderness but without Rather’s (now tainted) pedigree. She’s still known primarily as the perky former Today show host.

This is a mitigating factor you just can’t dismiss out of hand. If Couric had been at CBS when this happened or with any major news outlet (Yahoo? Please) that would be a story approaching Brian Williams or Dan Rather proportions for the collateral damage it could cause.

But she isn’t. That weighs heavily on taking this story to big levels and it becomes more of a valid argument regarding how prominent it should be.

Is the fact that it wasn’t discussed indicative of anything nefarious or did it amount to your basic editorial decision? There’s evidence the latter is at work here.

I find the Zucker conspiracy theory to be lacking in credibility regardless of what CNN has said on the matter. If Zucker really wanted the story spiked it would have been spiked across the board. That hasn’t happened. Stelter has put it in the media newsletter. Not once. But twice.

Some have made the argument that CNN hasn’t covered it on its air at all. Under normal circumstances…read: not a Trump dominated election year…I would find this argument more persuasive. But CNN’s news barometer has been off kilter all year with a whole mess of stories not getting covered. I repeatedly blasted the network for not giving enough coverage to the Fiji typhoon catastrophe.

But all of this ignores a revolting yet fundamental truth. This isn’t the CNN of 10 years ago. This is Jeff Zucker’s CNN where most of the news is not covered. Zucker himself recently copped to it when he said that the network now goes deep on a paltry handful of stories a day and if you want news you should go to digital. I hate hate hate this paradigm. But it is the paradigm. So I am not at all surprised to hear the charge that the Couric fiasco has not been discussed on air.

With TumpClintonSandersElection2016ClintonEmail still dominating everything, CNN isn’t going to give it space…particularly since the story doesn’t rise to the level of a Brian Williams transgression which the network did cover and cover a lot. Not enough people care about this story. Hate to break it to you but those that do constitute a distinct minority of the general viewing public. This story doesn’t have the depth or the legs to generate that kind of viewer interest. Numbers are what CNN cares about most these days. And that sucks.

CNN’s Post Election Headache…

Posted in CNN on May 27, 2016 by icn2

Politico’s Alex Weprin writes about what CNN will do once the election gravy train ends…

For starters, CNN is taking one of the lessons it learned from this cycle and figuring out a way to apply it to a slightly less predictable news cycle. CNN’s strategy of booking frequent town halls with the candidates usually delivered strong ratings for the channel. Going forward, it hopes to host more live “events,” including, potentially, more town halls.

“I think you will see us try to do a number of events,” Zucker said. “The town halls all started with the guns town hall that President Obama did in January, that is where the town hall thing began. It doesn’t have to be completely tied to the election. We proved that with the guns town hall, the opiate town hall. I think you will see a lot more programming like that.”

Sadly there was no mention regarding the CNN’s serial abuse of countdown clocks…

Et tu, CNNI?

Posted in CNN on May 9, 2016 by icn2

Jeff Zucker is forcing CNNI to cover campaign 2016 in ever greater detail. It’s launching a new nightly show with Kate Bolduan to do the job. Broadcasting & Cable’s John Eggerton has more

“Every night we’re going to bring our international audiences along for the ride – offering the very latest developments from the campaign trail and giving them the inside scoop of what is really going on within the campaigns and in the minds of American voters,” said Bolduan in a statement.

The series will launch May 16th.

Aren’t you just tickled silly by this prospect international audience? Welcome to our cable news nightmare…