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April 05, 2012

CNN used to be the best news network. Now they are the worst entertainment network.


See an End (CNN)


Okay - You have AMESSNBC (MSNBC) for Liberals. Generally when I watched AMESSNBC ILean Forward and vomit violently.

Conversely, you have FUX News for Conservatives. As Fair and Balanced as a Taliban trial.

I expect very little from both AMESSNBC and FUX NEWS because they are so blatantly biased, I know that I'm watching views - not news. 

CNN could have been the factual middle - would have been a nice niche to fill. Instead, for the most part I think they are a train wreck and unless I am just getting older and crankier (which of course I am) - it just seems they are getting worse.

Let's start with Anderson Cooper, host of Anderson Copper 360 and CNN's most visible face. He was the first CNN anchor to start the Keeping Them Honest segmentsAside from the fact that CNN doesn't actually keep anyone honest, what I find most annoying - and I mean like nails on a chalkboard annoying - is that whenever Anderson Cooper, one of the more eloquent folks on TV,  introduces the segment he all of a sudden forgets how to perform basic pronunciation.

Theoretically, the segment is KEEPING THEM HONEST. However, Anderson always pronounces it  KEEP EM HONEST. Now I know that they know that they're doing this on purpose. It's as obvious as Mitt Romney saying y'all make some great grits down here." You better believe that there was a CNN focus group put together that figured out Keep-em was a lot more cowboy sounding than Keeping them.  I guess I can understand. Whenever someone asks me how I feel about CNN, I instinctively respond Fuck-em when obviously the King's English requires Fuck Them.

I have personal knowledge of this charade as my twin brother was the producer for CNN and this is in fact a first hand account of training Anderson to mangle his words:


What do you think - should I go with the black or the white
tee shirt?
Bottom line for me CNN is this - if you are really interested in Keeping Them Honest - than you ought not introduce the segment with a disingenuous catch phrase.

Anderson's other attempt at middle America is the tight black T-shirt he has worn on more than one occasion during a newscast.  He wore it in Haiti while covering the earthquake, in  New Orleans covering the hurricane, in California covering the wild fires and pretty much at every other disaster (I somehow missed the training session where form fitting tee shirts replaced protective apparel as the go to outfit at disasters).

Now, I don't have anything against black tee shirts. I own a couple myself. It's just bugs me that CNN can't see when Anderson brings his out for the in the field disaster coverage they can't see that what they are really telling the audience is that the coverage is not about the disaster - it's about Anderson. That turns it from a news show to a promotional tour.

Now I must admit,  just in terms of his personality,
I kind of like Anderson. He seems like a smart fella, displays a good sense of humor and has never really said anything that particularly pissed me off. But if you're covering the news, I just think that you should ensure that the news is the focus, not you or your attire. Otherwise, it's hard for me too take Anderson seriously. When someone mentions his name to me now, I don't think of hard hitting news, I think, hmmm - maybe with that tight black t-shirt  he was the original model for the men's public restroom sign.

Moving on.

CNN needs to change their name from time to time to either the Celebrity News Network or the Criminal News Network depending on the hot story of the moment (although there are times where both criminal and celebrity would apply).

Now, I'm not saying that the death or jailing of a celebrity isn't newsworthy. It just isn't 24 hour a day news worthy - at least not for an organization that labels themselves a news network. Defenders of this coverage often say that they can't help it - they have 24 hours to fill. I feel the opposite - there is no cover the same wretched thing every hour because - they got 24 hours available.

It started with OJ and has continued all the way through Robert Blake, Anna Nicole Smith, Phil Specter, Charlie Sheen, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. If something happens to a celebrity - CNN's line-up is set for the week. During Houston's death and subsequent funeral, one was hard pressed to find anything other than Whitney on CNN - from Anderson Cooper 360 to Piers Morgan Tonight - it's Whitney all day. That's okay if you are the Entertainment News Network. It ain't if you are the Cable News Network. 

Not only does CNN get to fill their programming coffers with celebrity tragedies and mis-steps, they get a whole week of programming afterwards dedicated to whether or not the media is over covering celebrity tragedies and mis-steps. It's a clever ruse that appears to be self-flagellation for their journalistic sins but is instead merely a way to keep the celebrity mill running smoothly. Of course, as in always the case, you can get the real news by reading the news crawl that now runs on the bottom of every telecast.

"Tonight! - Do news networks over cover celebrity news and gossip? Joining me in this discussion is a special panel -  OJ, Charlie Sheen and some broad who drinks OJ with vodka. 


Moving on.

Drizzle, Drizzle, Drazzle, Drone
Time for this Reporter to go home
The technological overload employed by CNN is tedious. Whether it is John King whipping through what can only be described as an IPad screen on steroids (i.e, CNN'sMagic Wall) 

Somewhere along the way, the CNN newsroom got a big boost in their IT budget and decided that it was more newsworthy than the actual stories they are covering.

When entering their technological overload phase, at worst the CNN screen looks like a Pablo Picasso piece of art - and I'm not talking about the good kind - I'm talking about the - what the fuck is that suppose to be? - kind. At best it is just a jumbled mess. At least in my mind's eye, it looks like this:

And while we're at it - I didn't buy a 65 inch high definition TV to watch a 40" image of a newscaster pointing at a 24" screen.

How about this - if there is some graphical display or presentation that is suppose to enhance my understanding of what issue or story is being covered - put the entire image on my fucking TV!. It isn't a story or even innovative that someone can touch a screen and expand and manipulate images. Any five year old with an IPhone can do that.

CNN has simply fallen in love with the technological instruments one can use in presenting information rather than the importance of the information itself. In business, we use to call that bells and whistles - and that was not a complimentary phrase. It meant - here comes some bullshit.

Don't taser me bro! Wikipedia defines bells and whistles as non essential features - visual or functional (note: it is my understanding that it is the same definition that Wikipedia used to describe Rick Sanchez (he's the CNN anchor that, between multiple taser shots, decided to opine on Jewish folks' control of the media).

The crux of the matter is this - at some point CNN moved from reporting the news in the most effective manner possible to just showing off. The focus of their presentations shifted from the actual story to the technology they could use to describe the story. In other words, their focus became showing off their bells and whistles. And while that has it place from time to time, it ultimately just serves as a distraction when over-used. Just ask Anderson.
Moving on.

I'd like to introduce this next segment as My Exclusive Blog Post on CNN. What's that you say? There have been other stories on the Internet dealing with CNN?

Well, using the standards employed today - if they are not typing their blog at the exact moment I am typing mine - I'm pretty sure I can call it an exclusive report.

In fairness, all networks exploit this technique - but - I'm disparaging CNN now so I'll stay on target. Here's the way it works. A big story breaks and CNN, like all networks, will do stories on it and will eventually have an exclusive interviewwith the topic (e.g., CNN promotes an exclusive interviews with Charlie Sheen during the point in time where he was all over all radio and television outlets, etc.). Yeah - maybe they're the only ones doing an interview with someone in a particular time spot - but calling it exclusive is like a guy saying he has an exclusive relationship with a hooker. You may be the only one there at the moment - but - it sure as hell as not an exclusive relationship (1).

(1) A  note to Mi Esposa - I have no idea how the hooker business works. I was merely using this metaphor as a way to how networks like CNN prostitute themselves with ...... God dammit - note to Mi Esposa -  I have no idea how the prostitute business works. 

Moving on:

Twitter is a social media tool. People get to spew whatever diatribe their nerve synapses conjured up at the moment. Sadly, like many networks, CNN now crawls tweets at the bottom of their screen. UGH AND DOUBLE FOKING UGH!

This is just another degradation of news done at the alter of glorifying a gimmick.  Does anyone really care whether Billy Bob from Alabama thinks Obama is a citizen. Should I pay attention to the the fact that Elite Nathan from Vermont thinks Gingrich's views on health care are wrong headed? The answer to both is a resounding - No!.

There are even times where the CNN anchor actually reads the tweets on air. If CNN is going to treat tweets as news, they ought to at least have the good sense only to include relevant ones. If Pope Benedict wants to tweet in on the recent birth control controversy - fine - report it. Just don't give me JohnDaBaptyst@tweeterdumbs' message on the issue.

As a point of disclaimer - I did send CNN a tweet which, inexplicably, did not get aired:
Oh well. Moving on.
Not all of CNN's broadcast is problematic. I think Fareed Zakaria's show (Fareed Zakaria GPS) is fabulous and also like the aforementioned Erin Burnett's show and I think that Candy Crowley (State of the Union) does a decent job. Even Anderson does well from time to time. However, there is a disturbing trend. CNN is becoming entertainment rather than news, panders to the lowest common denominator and uses technological gimmickry  to substitute for hard reporting. Their product has become less about the news and more about the promotion of CNN. 
They broadcast the story about the Wizard when they ought to be doing an investigation about the man behind the curtain. Please for the sake of us all CNN - start being a real grown-up news network. We could use one. If you don't - maybe not tomorrow - but at some point in the future we may See an End to CNN.