Thursday, June 28, 2007

CNN Gives Up On That Whole News Thing (Wednesday's Show)

Hi guys. Well...holy hell, that was bad! Anderson proved me wrong and actually showed up to host, but unfortunately, that was the only thing I was wrong about. Okay, so we knew this was coming. Now where to even begin? I guess at the beginning: "Well, here we go. There is plenty of news today. And, as always, we will be bringing it to you," says Anderson. "But we can't be above the news of the moment either." And why not?! I know there's suffocating ratings pressure, but Lou Dobbs put his foot down and as far as I know, remained Paris free. As I expected, that Larry King lead in was just too tempting for them to pass up. It's like when I leave food out within my dog's reach and he chows down. He knows he shouldn't, but he just can't help himself. Anderson then continues: "We have all been watching TV around here tonight. Probably, you have, too. I think we have heard a couple of you screaming at the screens." Were they screaming about how CNN has just tossed away what little credibility it had? Because that was totally me. Seriously people, they had a frickin Paris interview countdown clock on Paula Zahn! What is wrong with these people?! I can't even tell you what I said when I saw that.

So okay, Anderson Cooper was not a happy camper last night. In fact, through most of the broadcast he wore an expression that was half my-dog-got-run-over and half someone-really-did-get-shots-of-me-in-the-gym-shower. Not happy. But see, I can't really feel all that sorry for him or the show because they've been acting above it all, when they're clearly not. I knew it would go down like this, as I blogged before Larry King even had the interview:
Anderson Cooper, I can see you're outraged by all this and I'm right there with you, but I think once again you've boxed yourself into a corner. If 360 airs any footage of that interview or mentions anything she who shall not be named says, you've just made yourself a big hypocrite. I don't care if you cover it snarky or not. You can't get your outrage on about NBC and then still cover it.
I know, I know, CNN didn't pay. Which they keep telling us over and over like we're supposed to pat them on the back or something for not paying for crap "news". So CNN is a smidge less pathetic. Yay for them. Anyway, back to Anderson. Though it doesn't seem like it in this post, I really am a fan, so the blatant hypocrisy I'm about to point out, I do so with love. Not long ago a reader pointed me to a podcast interview Anderson did with The Jack Rice Show that they found via All Things Anderson. Towards the end, the subject turns to infotainment and Anderson says the following (paraphrased):
CNN, to their credit, they don’t want me doing the runaway bride and Paris Hilton going to jail. I’ve mentioned on Friday night on my program we had maybe 30 seconds talking about it on a two-hour news program. But to their credit, CNN doesn’t believe I should be doing that. (snip) My competitors spend 30 minutes on it and they lead off their newscast with it at 10:00.
Eating his words now, isn't he? CNN doesn't want him doing that unless it's going to bring in three times the viewers in the demo, baby! Then principles be damned! Okay, I guess I'm (mostly) done being mean to Anderson. Might as well get on with it. We begin with clips of the Larry King interview and if you think I'm blogging that, you're not a regular reader. After that, we've got a whole discussion panel made up of Court TV's Lisa Bloom, public relations consultant Ken Sunshine, Marc Lamont Hill of Temple University, and Jess Cagle of "People" magazine. I'm not going through all their discussion, but one thing I thought was kind of funny is that Paris couldn't come up with her favorite bible verse, which leaves us all wondering if she's even read it. Unfortunately this interview was done by Larry King, so, yeah, no follow up. Franky, we should feel lucky if he gets the guest's name right. Marc thinks "this is just another example of how American culture and how American society squanders really important and valuable opportunities to talk about the deeper issues." Deeper issues? Yeah, we don't do that here.

The panel then moves on to discussing the diary that Paris apparently kept while in prison. "'Letters From a Birmingham Jail,' it is not," says Anderson. Bwah! Oh, don't make me laugh when I'm mad at you. Then there's some discussion for the upteenth time about how CNN didn't pay for the interview and we go into this weird alternate universe where the panel guests seem to be defending Paris. Jess tells Anderson "everybody here tonight among us actually sort of did like her during this interview, except for you." Busted! "Well, that's -- you know, I don't really -- I just don't understand her. I don't understand the appeal. I don't understand what she's done. But we can talk about that coming up -- showing my own bias here," says Anderson. Well, you stick her all over the news and suddenly everyone wants to see her. It's a self fullfilling prophecy. I should also point out that it's clear Anderson is still trying not to say her name, but he's not having the best luck. And after hearing Paris referred to as "Nicky Hilton's sister" and "another sequence of sound from L.A. County number 9818783," I'm imagining some poor producer put on the case to come up with this stuff.

Next up we have a Randi Kaye piece that explores the Hilton fortune. Oh, why not? If there's one thing that news doesn't cover enough, it's the rich people. Screw those thousands of kids that die every day from preventable causes. In the piece Paris is referred to as a "poor little rich girl." Hmm, that's what they called Gloria Vanderbilt. I wonder if Anderson was cool with that. Anyway, at the end of the piece Randi talks with some dude about Paris's brand and he notes, "you and I are making Paris Hilton's brand more valuable right now,..." Well, yay. CNN's always ready to help a heiress in need. Afterwards, we're back with the panel and Anderson admits he's maybe "being too harsh on [Paris]." He just doesn't get how someone "who is born into such privilege and given so many opportunities" doesn't do something good with it. Actually, Anderson hits on this a lot all hour and, well, we all realize he's totally talking about himself, right? Lisa even kind of briefly makes the connection. Anyway, yes Anderson, you done good.

Moving on to more clips from the interview and then Anderson has an interview with Larry King...about the interview. Good Lord. Larry doesn't really understand Paris either, but in her defense, that's not saying much (yes, I'm mean tonight!). Anderson notes that "she seems -- she seems to be claiming in this interview that you've done that it's a perception problem that she has, not a life problem, not a lifestyle problem." OMG, she's like the Bush Administration! It's not reality that's the problem, it's people's perception of reality. God, help us all. The interview ends with Anderson stating that tomorrow night Larry sits down with Colin Powell. Bwah! From Paris to Colin Powell. Wow. After Larry, Anderson has a piece on Paris. He had to do a piece?! Aw, he's really going to cry himself to sleep tonight, isn't he? Anyway, then there's some more panel and can I just say I love how Anderson totally ignores his in studio guests and goes to his laptop as they break for commercial. Awwwkward.

We're back with the panel next and Lisa points out that if Paris was a guy there wouldn't be as much criticism. "Think about the words that are used to describe her: airhead, bimbo, dumb blonde. I mean, in our culture, there's two professions where women consistently make more than men, only two. Modeling, and the other one is prostitution," she says. Hmm. She has a point. Anderson hates on Paris some more and Lisa notes thats she's only 26. Then Anderson brings up the fact that there are soldiers in Iraq who are only 18. Oh, could you imagine Paris in Iraq? Just when you thought the war couldn't get more messed up...Anyway, as we go out to commercial Anderson does not look happy. He is so done with this. The hour ends with a Dan Simon piece on the sheriff that initially let Paris go free. Whatever. At the top of hour two we've got about 10 minutes of Paris stuff.

Transitioning now to...actual news! OMG! Okay, it's flood and fires, so not good news, but news none the less. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to give the rest of the hour the fast treatment because I used up my time bitching about Paris. Heh. We get a Gary Tuchman piece on some horrible flash flooding in Texas and then move into Erica with the headlines, all stories that should have been covered instead of Paris. Next we've got some "Raw Politics" with Tom Foreman and then a Candy Crowley piece on Fred Thompson's non campaign. From there we learn from Anderson that "today, CNN has been focusing on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Americans." And boy, I bet they're thrilled to be sharing their day with Paris Hilton. Geez. Also, if this is some network wide special, you would think the coverage would be, well, new. But instead we get repeat Gary Tuchman pieces originally aired during the "What Is A Christian?" series. Don't get me wrong, they're really good pieces (and I still can't believe that hissy fit that guy had with poor Gary), but why have a big special or whatever if there's nothing new?

Next up we have a Miles O'Brien piece on how eagles are coming back. Actual good news. Yay! We learn that 40 years ago when we killed bugs with DDT it made the eagle eggs too thin and they collapsed, thus decreasing their numbers. Stopping that and putting the eagles on the endangered species list has really helped bring their population back up. Miles goes out in a canoe to get us some eagle shots, which are shaky because of the canoe, but we understand. The big problem now is that even though the eagles themselves are doing better, their habitat is in danger and that spells trouble. After Miles, we have an interview with Jeff Corwin about that maybe new species they found. Jeff tells us it will take some time before they know for sure, but the experience is awesome and humbling. "If it is a new species, do you get to name it, like Jeff Corwinist or something like that?" asks Anderson. Jeff thinks it has a better shot being named "carrotopious." Oh, those crazy kids. "Jeff, I know carrot top and you are no carrot top," jokes Anderson. But Jeff is in Mr. Serious Save-The-Planet guy mode and stresses that it's not too late to save Madagascar.

The show ends with emails on Paris. One emailer notes it's nice to know Anderson dislikes her as much as the rest of us, leading Anderson to say " I don't really dislike her. I just don't -- don't get it. And if I seemed unfair in my portrayal, I apologize." Apologizing for Paris bias. Man. Another emailer jokingly chides him for saying the name of she who shall not be named. "Nicole, I slipped several times. I know. Like her, I'm trying to change," says Anderson. Now, you might read that as snarky, but that's totally not how it came out. He wants this night to be ovah! And now it is. D-


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are right Eliza, CNN has lost a lot of credibility since they've chosen to cover unimportant entities like Anna Nicole and Paris. Although I didn't appreciate 360 reporting on the interview, it was amusing to listen and watch Anderson's obvious disgust with Paris and the fact that he apparently didn't do as much as he could've to stop the whole thing altogether. His remarks about her letters from jail and how she basically shouldn't speak in public made me laugh. I don't know how anyone on that panel could've possibly been sympathetic towards her, their comments were irritating. This was certainly not CNN's finest hour, but ratings obviously count more than journalistic integrity.

and can I just say I love how Anderson totally ignores his in studio guests and goes to his laptop as they break for commercial. Awwwkward.

This always amuses me too, he can't seem to stay off the laptop, even though he probably should be making small talk with his guests who just sit there and watch him grimly focused on that screen. AC's a strange bird sometimes.

1:34 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

@anonymous-Yes, ratings trump everything apparently. That's what the public should be worrying about-not political bias.

To be fair to Anderson, I'm pretty sure he's reading the instant feedback when he goes to the laptop, which I guess you could say is part of his job, but still. I know if I was the guest it'd make me feel weird.

12:05 AM  

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