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While CNN did its part in helping the former guy get elected, the other networks did the same. Joe and Mika were besties with the Donald until he turned on them. He appeared by phone on their show numerous times, laughing, schmoozing and chit chatting over bs. Everyone is responsible for this idiot’s election.

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Feb 4, 2022·edited Feb 4, 2022

You are right that it wasn’t just CNN. I had stopped watching CNN long before 2016 but regularly watched Morning Joe because I had read that it was watched by DC insiders. Supposedly Morning Joe was even on the TV in the Senate gym. I was constantly furious that I repeatedly say live coverage of Trump’s rallies and, after he caught on, Bernies rallies — but not Hillary’s. No wonder post election media analyses like the one done by Harvard’s Shorenstein Center found that while most voters could identify Trump’s and Bernie’s top issues, few could name any of Hillary’s. That analysis also showed her top issue and the one she spoke about more than any other candidate was how to create good jobs for middle and working class people which makes the fact that so many in the media blamed her loss on having offered nothing to those people all the more egregious.

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But the emails ….

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Coverage of tRumps rallies NOW - on CSPAN(!) - infuriate me… he’s not even a candidate.

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Feb 4, 2022·edited Feb 4, 2022

The American mainstream media is still in denial about the GOP/Republican Party moving away from being a political party to a personality cult of dangerous bigots and ignoramouses led by the biggest asshole of them all.

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No. they are complicit.

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Feb 4, 2022·edited Feb 4, 2022

That's putting it bluntly.

They're ignoring the reality that while one political party is still dedicated to upholding democracy, the other is dedicated to destroying it in order to establish authoritarian rule by a white minority elite.

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UGH!

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Egyptian satellite TV carried some English language news, and I never, ever saw any coverage of Hillary Clinton's campaign except for the time she fainted when suffering from pneumonia. But I saw Trump plenty. And nothing on Bernie either.

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Feb 4, 2022·edited Feb 4, 2022

I think Obama acknowledged that in his last WH Correspondent's Dinner speech… said something like “I hope you’re proud of yourselves… the guy just got into this thing to promote his hotel business…”

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Still waiting for Scarborough to note his early support for Trump.

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I can't see Joe admitting any fault, but especially about Trump.

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That would be something to see.

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Won't ever happen from Morning Joke.

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Not that I expect it.

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Probably feels the subsequent bashing made up for it… :/

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By definition, it cannot and won’t. Media denial of Trump’s complete unfitness for office didn’t, hasn’t worked out well for the nation. Sure, there was some disdain for him, but no explanation how and why he was unfit.

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Hillary tried. No one listened and was scoffed at for it by the press. I remember cheering her on during her campaign when she told this OBVIOUS truth. Lots of us knew what a phony buffoon TFG was. I grew up in NJ when the first FG built his casino in Atlantic City. It was well known then that he was a craven, media attention addict and a foolish man with bad hair and fragile ego. Did I miss that story line on CNN et al?

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when the FG built ….. sorry

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I still watch his show. These days he is unrelenting in his criticism of Trump, including how and why he was so unfit. I have never heard him blame his own industry, though.

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Can't watch the hypocrite. He and Mika were in a "open secret"relationship just like Zucker. They are frauds.

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Or apologize to Hillary for the free air time they gave trump every morning. Free time to tell lies at her expense.

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The time for that level of criticism was before November 2016.

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Agreed but better late than never. At least he has finally broken out of the group think that dominates so many of the media — at least for the most part. He still holds to some bad economic ideas and can’t give up bashing Bill Clinton who was a far better president than either Dubya or Trump.

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I still watch. Discussions can be very good. BREAKING NEWS thy are going to 4 hours on the air from 3. Lots of juggling going on at msnbc too. Panicking just a wee bit?

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Ditto

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Feb 4, 2022·edited Feb 4, 2022

(Media denial of complete unfitness) Very important point 👆

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TFG was the shiny object CNN couldn’t look away from. Contagious, it seems. So glad the Zucker story is in the front page news, as it puts a spotlight on the malfeasance of the media/CNN to overlook what is important to the country over $$$$ and clicks. Bye bye Mr. Zucker, though I’m sure he’s not gone nor forgotten as I’m betting he will find himself on another network doing the same kind of shallow reporting on what is NOT important news, just biased fluff.

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You can be sure that Zucker agreed with Les Moonves (then president of CBS) on the 2016 campaign when he said, "It may not be good for America, but it is damn good for CBS....“Man, who would have expected the ride we’re all having right now? … The money’s rolling in and this is fun....I’ve never seen anything like this, and this going to be a very good year for us. Sorry. It’s a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going.”

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And, I think they wanted the audience that Fox opinion commentators had. Zucker wanted to be as close a friend as Hannity is to Drump.

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Good take.

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A time-honored journalistic alert became a meaningless catch phrase when CNN decided to sell every story as BREAKING NEWS!! That mentality contributed to one of the media's biggest plagues - placing a premium on being first to report rather than being accurate in what you are reporting. When the news is deemed entertainment, accuracy takes a back seat to immediacy and narrative. In Zucker's experience, the audience wanted a dumbed down fantasy when the TV was turned on...hence Trump as a majordomo businessman, and NBC's Today Show getting dumber by the minute while ratings climbed. CNN's brass knew - or should have known - that Zucker didn't have a serious news background. I never thought I'd say, "CNN needs Ted Turner," but that seems true today.

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Ted Turner started the 24-hr news cycle that soon mutated into the reality TV we now call news, but Ted's pre-mutated network was far superior.

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Feb 4, 2022·edited Feb 4, 2022

Likely bc the first generation personnel were still steeped in traditional journalism?

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Yeah, but they got James Earl Jones to say "This is CNN>"

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Great ‘get.’

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Different times. Ted Turner was seen as a trailblazer, and with Jane Fonda on his arm, added to a more liberal but fact based network. No more, obviously.

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I don't agree. I remember the very first day of CNN and they endlessly covered Vernon Jordan's shooting...and just happened to note that he was (allegedly) sharing his motel room with a white woman. CNN played the race card endlessly the first day and I found it sickening.

"Most Trusted Name In News"...what a joke...

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One story makes a reputation? CNN put itself on the map with its coverage of the US invasion of Iraq. Back then, the channel was much better than the junk pile it is today.

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It wasn't just one story. It was the endless Republican spin that Ted Turner put on everything in CNN. Remember how Bernie Shaw torpedoed Dukakis with the "Kitty Question" that was given to him by Roger Ailes?

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No idea what you're referring to. I watched CNN only during the first months of the Iraq war. I was more into humanitarian issues than politics, and I had no idea of what Turner's politics were at the time. Besides, Eric's blog is getting hijacked here.

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Also I remember Ted Turner linking up with Jesse Helms as he launched his hostile takeover attempt of CBS. Turner repeatedly attacked the "liberal" news department at CBS. Thanks to Turner, Paley lost control of CBS to right winger Lawrence Tisch.

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Chasing the dopamine rush = eyeballs/clicks :/

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Oh, "breaking news!" is something I began ignoring. Our local TV news station used "red alert" every time it started raining it seemed, and viewers became irritated and irate. Thankfully, they have stopped.

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Zucker finally shed the notion that 24 hour news is anything but entertainment. He understood that since it's on the TV in everyone's living room, it is seen as just one more choice for the attention of viewers so it better compel them to stay.

The problem faced by outlets like CNN and MSNBC is that they don't have the same numbers of devoted viewers as does Fox News - the makeup of the audience is different. Democrats are less likely to just let info wash over them because they'd rather be arguing. TV news doesn't allow a two-way discussion and I think that's why you find a hell of a lot more Dems on Twitter. Like me, they like the illusion that the checkmarks actually give a damn what I have to say. Hell, I know the checkmarks don't care about my existence, I just satisfy my need to say something back. Zucker knew that to keep people engaged at all, he had to make it all about one crisis after another complete with Breaking News graphics and the latest smirk-smile report from the White House.

I admit that I'm a cynic when it comes to humans - I just see it as realistic. Whether it's news or sports or yet one more rerun of Law and Order or Guy Fieri (I refuse to roll the R) eating a 4000 calorie sandwich, the TV viewer sees it all as one thing - entertainment. Zucker knew this.

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News-as-entertainment is why news ratings overall have been dropping for years, no?

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I agree, that change, plus news becoming a money maker rather than separate from the business side, distorted everything fact wise, and has done us a disservice as a civically educated population. Reality TV topped finished it off.

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I think most viewers do "drive-by" news watching as opposed to sticking with a single outlet. Fox is the exception. Those folks tune in for their daily dose of delusion.

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*how about debating/thoughtfully critiquing/challenging viewpoints vs ‘arguing’?…

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Substance? Honesty? That’s not part of their briefs.

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I don't know what their beliefs are but I do know that there are realities to running a network. The decision was made to put news under the entertainment division in the hopes of drawing eyeballs other than the hardcore news junkie or person who watches maybe a half hour of news a day and that's it. Eyeballs equals ad dollars.

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That’s assuming that entertainment attracts a larger audience than honest reporting would and did in the past.

But since there’s no interest in honest reporting from the media, then sure, entertainment is all that’s left. Of course, societally, we’d be better off with less BS even if the audience was slightly smaller.

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The media makes self-fulfilling prophecies about what the public wants to see. That is why local news became dominated by the “if it bleeds it leads” philosophy. Because there has been no other kinds of news available for decades many people like me stopped watching those programs. However of the people who were left, who did like the hype, the more sensational programs became the most successful.

This well-done study from 2021 proves that when people are given the option they prefer to watch stories about solutions to problems over stories about problems. Here is the summary:

“In September 2020, the media research company SmithGeiger showed people in six U.S. cities TV news stories — both traditional, problem-focused stories and solutions stories covering responses to problems, and interviewed them.

The results? Solutions journalism outperformed the traditional approach on three criteria:

More audience appeal: Solutions stories were more interesting, trustworthy, deep and uplifting, and less upsetting.

Better ratings: Solutions stories were a reason to watch TV news more often and seek out the stations that told these stories.

Greater impact: Solutions stories changed people’s understanding of issues and inspired them to get involved. They talked to friends and family about these stories.”

https://sjn-static.s3.amazonaws.com/SmithGeiger2020.pdf

Theses results held for all age groups. Even the youngest viewers (18-24) strongly preferred “solutions stories” by 51 to 34 percent over the more dramatic “problem” stories”. The results are the complete opposite of what the media claims the public wants.

I am convinced that the media are projecting their own juvenile preferences and boredom with substance onto the rest of us. I remember how the media mocked people like Carter and Gore for being “goo-goos” — good government advocates! Anyone who cared about and was knowledgeable about the policies that affect our lives was derided as a “wonk”. They kept repeating the claim that Bush would be more fun to have a beer with than Gore would as if it were a perfectly reasonable, important qualification for choosing the most powerful person in the world!!

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All I would suggest is that they should definitely give it a try on the local level and make a commitment to do it on the 24/7 network level. That's all I can say. I primarily watch MSNBC with a bit of CNN thrown in. Most of my news I read. I could go into a long critique-rant about MSNBC with a smattering of Air America thrown in, but this isn't my newsletter and I don't feel like hijacking it. Also, my comments would be the way I speak and not really the nicest way to put things.

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There's a reality that we live in a very polarized political environment. The people who would likely turn on the news - let's say a hardcore news network - are those who are the people dedicated enough to watch it. That network would have to concede that the average person who is not a news junkie is not going to watch more than a few minutes here and there. Either it needs to make money or be a loss-leader to just attract people who like no nonsense news.

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And white seniors/retirees with lots of time on their hands are the predominant audience. Many, I imagine, have tv turned on to FOX all day/evening long. They’re with their tribe. And, gen z’ers et al get all their news on their phones; never watch cable, network news.

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That polarization is a result of decades of reporting failures. Economics reporting has been bullshit for decades. Once the media quit being trustworthy, crap fills the gap and a Fox gets traction. And here we are.

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Read my comment above. There is strong evidence that average people actually care about news about problems getting solved.

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The internet and TV have reduced the human attention span. Traditional news articles are much shorter than they once were, and the average piece takes 5 minutes or less to read because people stop reading at that point. Sensationalizing stories on TV slows down the channel surfing.

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Can't have that either with a TV network.

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Not trying to put too fine a point on it - but I think D’s should get credit for at least being more actively engaged rather than passively absorbing info that ‘washes over’ them. That’s how we get in trouble, IMO.

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As a non-American who used to watch CNN International on local cable, following Press Run in the midst of the American mainstream media hysteria over Biden's "failure" in Afghanistan opened my eyes to how journalistic standards have fallen so badly in your country for years.

I used to believe your country's mainstream media outlets had higher standards than the ones here in the Philippines. That turned out to be wrong when Tangerine Palpatine was elected as president in 2016. However, I also was one of those viewers who initially followed the reality show trainwreck on the news, but decided that the late night talk show hosts were much better at calling out the B.S.

Press Run has become a helpful resource for me in making sense of the dishonest reporting prevalent in American mainstream media in that its practitioners don't want to do serious reporting. They've decided that creating narratives seems to be the only way for themselves and their employers to stay relevant and financially profitable.

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it's interesting that CNN International is so much better than CNN here; they don't bother with the manufactured storylines etc

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Well, CNN International has other stories to report aside from what's happening in the U.S.

However, there's been more content coming from the U.S. lately so viewers here in Asia might get a bit of the Biden-bashing.

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We no longer have a free press because news that isn't sexy is not likely to be covered. I'm wondering how many outlets will cover HuffPost's little story on the Pentagon news briefing yesterday where a reporter asked for proof of the government claims about Russia's activities re: Ukraine. The answer was basically, "they're true because we say they're true." https://www.huffpost.com/entry/psaki-price-russia-isis-reporters-evidence_n_61fc3921e4b05004242a58f5?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Morning%20Email%202-4-22&utm_term=us-morning-email

A bit off-topic but what we're discussing is veracity in reporting.

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I saw part of that press briefing. An NBC reporter actually asked the guy doing the briefing if there had been a dog present at the attack on Isis and did he have a picture of it! I tuned out after that.

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Feb 4, 2022·edited Feb 4, 2022

I'm sure they're supposed to be questioning the government's official narratives.

However, they seem to treat is like a game of "Gotcha."

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No. All governments lie. It's the press' job to get at the truth. If you watch the video, it's not a game of gotcha, it's a journalist trying to get some information other than "because we say so." The US just sent another 3,000 troops to Ukraine. We have the right to know why.

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Feb 4, 2022·edited Feb 4, 2022

Good point, it's a bad look for the Biden administration for saying that.

Although, the troop movements are obviously related to possibility of Russia invading Ukraine.

Russia, the U.S. and the E.U. are currently in a long & tense diplomatic standoff that any wrong move could lead to war.

Both Biden & Psaki shouldn't have gotten testy with both reporters' line of questioning.

However, it's going to feed into the Biden-bashing narrative.

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How pure is the Administration supposed to be if 🦊 is serving as a blatant tool for rUssia?

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Feb 4, 2022·edited Feb 4, 2022

Tired of that game :/ The whole ‘savvy’, disrespectful thing.

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Certainly no one person or group singlehandedly destroyed our democracy. It has been a group effort. CNN and other networks have done their part as well as the so called liberal station MSNBC who just can't seem to step away from some Biden bashing on their own. This morning while touting the much better than expected jobs report on Morning Joe, they couldn't help themselves from exploiting the unemployment rate that went up slightly. You know, there are billionaires on the side of justice. I just wish they would use some of that money to help get progressive networks such as Freespeech.TV to the mainstream and on every cable and satellite outlet. And if "Zucker" is your name or part of your name (right Mark?), I guess democracy is their enemy. What's with that?

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Today's economic news "crushing expectations" makes your point. The unnecessary drama of pretending to predict instead of waiting to report.

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HBD🎂🎂PRESS RUN !

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Feb 4, 2022·edited Feb 4, 2022

It's unfortunate that CNN changed from a bona fide news network under Ted Turner into an infotainment outlet. I'm not a big TV fan, and in fact, throughout most of my adult life I didn't even own a TV. I began watching again while living in the middle east because every apartment I rented had a free TV and satellite coverage. I began watching English language shows in earnest (my command of Arabic is rather small), including news. What a shock to see Trump float down an escalator while some knucklehead in a voiceover intoned, "This is great television!"

I hate TV news, always have because it just leaves out too much important info. But during the first year of the pandemic and of course, the 2020 elections, I watched CNN but began tuning out because I think Wolf Blitzer is simply intolerable. But until I did, I began thinking of CNN as not really news, but news constantly being given a slant, news with heavy emotions (Don Lemon, good lord) and a stable of commentators with dependably liberal viewpoints - not news. It's actually remarkably similar to Fox News, and now I know why - Zucker.

I was worried to read about how Chris Cuomo was permitted to "assist" his brother's defense especially when it became clear that his involvement was deep and that Zucker knew about it. I still wonder how Zucker got away with it. When the people reporting the news become just as self-serving and morally questionable as the people in their stories, we're all dragged down. I lost my respect for TV news long ago and watch TV only for entertainment. The visual medium is too powerful and useful for spreading lies.

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I'm fairly certain that Kellyanne Conway's repeat 'performances' on Chris Cuomo's show were primary drivers of the narrative of 'alternative facts', which has morphed under Trump, the GOP, and Fox into an alternative reality. "Fake News" was mainstreamed into the bloodstream of the country as much by CNN as by Fox. I wonder whether Zucker's ouster will mark a return to serious news by CNN, or whether our society is simply too far gone.

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The media knows that there is solid evidence that hearing lies repeated just makes them stick more.

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Interested to note that the front page of today's on-line addition of the NY Times has nothing about the death of the ISIS leader in Syria. The Times apparently has decided to save money by contracting out the production of their newspaper to Fox News

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Now that the Reality TV head of CNN is out, I think the real question is what becomes of this journalism graveyard? Lotsa personalities, damn few reporters. Neither fish nor fowl, this is a moment for them to remake themselves or tumble forever into Fox News Lite irrelevance permanently.

I’m sure Zucker is already fielding offers elsewhere, but I wonder who Warner is calling to beg to take it over. I would not be a bit surprised if recently “retired” Andy Lack (ex of NBC News) has gotten a phone call.

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very little hope there will be any remaking; CNN staffers apparently loved Zucker and are aghast he's gone

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Here's a tribute from Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward from her Instagram:

"Jeff Zucker is the best boss I have ever had. By a country mile. This is just one snap of one extraordinary trip I made around the world under his leadership. No one has ever championed and supported my work the way he did. And I have never worked harder for anyone has a result. I know that so many of us at CNN feel the same way. He is an extraordinary leader with a unique ability to make everyone feel valued and heard. He pushed us hard to be aggressive but fair. Being a mother and doing this job is hard. He was unwavering in his support and encouragement. The news of his resignation this week was devastating. I am still trying to process it, honestly. So, this is just to say a huge thank you to a wonderful friend and boss. We will keep working to meet the high bar you set for us."

While Ward's tribute showed that Zucker's management style involved building a lot of strong & positive relationships between him and the staffers was a good thing inside the company. We all have to wonder if this inadvertently made it easier for him to convince people to go along with his "narrative first, facts second" approach since none of them seemed to question the direction the network was taking under him.

Ward claims Zucker pushed them hard to be "aggressive but fair" (whatever that means). However, they all probably focused more on the "aggressive" part and ignored the "fair" part altogether so he probably pushed a little harder than she said.

Anyway, I get the impression Zucker was a good manager & leader, but his misguided approach to framing serious political news as a reality show to attract viewers really messed up the political discourse.

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That sounds like a cult of personality to me. She probably would never think of it that way, but manipulative leaders always try to build that kind of loyalty and devotion.

I travelled for my job, too, and while I enjoyed it (initially, at least) I never lost sight of the fact that it was the job and the Boss was making a lot of money off of my work. I also never forgot that I missed nights and weekends with family and friends because no matter the destination, **I was still at work**. You miss birthdays, anniversaries, first steps, first words, big games and none of that stuff happens a second time.

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Yeah, Eric, me too. But I’d like to think that they could recalibrate.

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Interesting to see so many MAGAts reveling in Zucker's departure when he was so instrumental in getting their guy elected.

Good riddance. Unfortunately I can already picture the "He may be gone but we're not changing anything" meetings that will take place.

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So another series of events straight down the memory-hole. Unbelievable

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" the network’s profits doubled after [Trump] became president. Doubled."

The problem, or one problem, with windfalls is when those getting one treat it like the new normal rather than as a one-time benefit, to be used for an emergency fund or to improve infrastructure.

In the real world, rather than the 24-hour news cycle world, this behavior would result in bankruptcy.

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Is this the moment we’ve been waiting for? Will Anderson Cooper start using his God given brains instead of acting like a tool for his boss? If CNN undergoes a reformation will the rest of the big news channels (real news, that is) follow suit? 🤷🏻‍♀️

Here’s to hope for a brighter future for the state of the news business (but I’m not holding my breath)

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incredibly the chatter from inside CNN, according to press reports, is that network might drift to the Right now

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How in the world does that square with the goal of attracting younger viewers, the prized demographic?

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Well, their ratings are down so they're going to do whatever is going to bring those eyeballs. The pity is that a news outlet must have a political slant at all.

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exactly! Remember when the news was really just a report of what was happening? And it only aired for an hour, a couple times a day? And there were only 3 networks? Ted Turner had a big idea but when you have to fill 24hrs of every day with 'news' you're going have to do something to fluff it up. Ugh.

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And look at the ongoing greatness of 60 Minutes, which airs once a week. Instead, "news channels" treat us to sloppy journalism and non-news embellished into infotainment, like CNN's "story" of the Texas family who claimed their kids slugged down 12 gallons of milk per week and their grocery bill is up 50%. And OMG the day Trump had covid and made his aides take him out of Walter Reed and drive him around so that he could wave to his fans. The excessive coverage was an embarrassment to the profession.

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I remember a line from a journalist on ‘30 Rock’: ‘Hey, it’s a 24/7 news cycle - we don’t have time to get it right’…

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I'm not much of a TV watcher. I don't know what 30 Rock even is.

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CNN undoubtedly looks at Fox News' numbers and thinks those viewers can be lured away. Did Juan Williams bring PBS viewers to Fox? No, but Fox pointed to his presence to support the "fair and balanced" canard.

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Oy. 😫😵‍💫

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Filling the 🦊 void as they lurch even further - wherever !

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Thanks for this, Eric. This is the part of the story the mainstream’s leaving out, maybe understandably (pot/kettle): What Zucker did to CNN. A minor footnote: IIRC, CNN’s ratings drop is much larger proportionately than those of its peers.

That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Zucker’s brought back after Discovery takes over. He has a good relationship, allegedly, with Discovery’s CEO. Meanwhile, his replacements at CNN are both temporary and his people so maybe benchwarmers?

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Feb 4, 2022·edited Feb 4, 2022

I doubt that will happen because of the bad publicity it would bring. He put the company in possible legal jeopardy by staying mum and most companies care about that kind of thing.

I didn’t realize until I read this article that Zucker is probably responsible for turning me off the Today Show. I grew up watching that show every morning — hoping to see my grandmother waving through the window and waiting for J Fred Muggs to come on (I’m old). I kept that habit until the show became obsessed with the OJ Simpson murder story. That coverage was non-stop for months which was ridiculous and depressing.

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You would think these people would have anticipated a post-Trump slump and prepared. I mean, he was impeached twice in his first term. They couldn’t possibly have thought he would win a second term. What kind of business model only focuses on the immediate four years? Now, instead of going back to normal, ethical journalism, they are throwing shit at the walls to see what sticks and undermining a good president who is good for this country in the process. Maybe they should focus on going back to the business model that put them on top in the first place in the late 90s and early 2000s, which was good, instead of trying to re-create the Trump model, which is abhorrent and isn’t working for them anyway. Isn’t that the real reason why Zucker was pushed out in the first place, because his methods are toxic and don’t work in the long run?

Speaking of toxic methods that don’t work, here is my latest on PANEM:

Idiot in Alabama - Katie Britt; And the Republican pledge to investigate and defund Dr. Fauci

https://panem.substack.com/p/idiot-in-alabama-katie-britt?r=17kwba&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web

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