The Village of the Damned, desperate to improve its ratings performance against competitors Asylum for the Batshit Insane and “You’re Just Like Fox, But Not As Good At It”NBC, has turned to Jeff Zucker, best known as, well, who? The guy who jerked Conan O’Brien around and turned NBC into Donald Trump’s vanity network? Wow; that’s…daring? I guess?
Fully expecting that CNN will soon begin a reality series in which has-been C-listers compete to impress Erick Erickson and win a job hosting CNN’s next nightly prime time series, and stipulating that I am just Some Dude typing on his computer without the kind of experience and background it takes to run a “news” network that gets its ass kicked nightly by two barking carnival channels, here are 10 ideas to fix what’s wrong with CNN. I am not including firing loathsome slug Piers Morgan on this list because, if they can’t figure that one out on their own, nothing anybody else says is going to help them.
- Fire anyone you ever advertised as being part of the “Best Political Team on Television.” Just perusing the Wikipedia, I can see that your list of “political contributors” includes luminaries such as Dana Loesch, who likes to fantasize about urinating on dead people; Erick Erickson, who likes to call Supreme Court Justices silly pet names like “goat-fucking child molester,” Alex Castellanos, Mary Matalin, James Carville, Roland “smack the ish out of him” Martin, Paul Begala, David Gergen, William Bennett, Donna Brazile, Amy Holmes, and Lanny Davis (seriously, Lanny Fucking Davis?). The last time any of these meatsacks had anything insightful to say about anything was at best 20 years ago, and the last time any of them could actually pass as a human being was long before that. Begone with them all.
- Fire Wolf Blitzer, or forcibly evict him if he’s just squatting in that studio as I suspect he may be. As your most prominent anchor, and a news anchor so evidently stupid, so unwilling to do anything that might offend the DC establishment, and so absolutely terrified of expressing an opinion or attempting to drill down beneath talking points to get at the substance of the news, he epitomizes the number one reason why you’re a laughingstock: timidity. Well, timidity and stupidity, which is two things. Timid stupidity? Stupid timidity? Whatever, please stop polluting the public airwaves with his bland uselessness 37 hours a day.
- Fire Erin Burnett, rehire her, fire her again, rehire her again, then make her your Space Correspondent and stuff her into a rocket bound for Mars. Because she’s terrible. Seriously, CNN, you are a news organization; you should be speaking Truth to Power whenever necessary. Erin Burnett’s life’s work is to be Power’s PR flack. Get rid of her and fumigate the offices once she’s gone.
- Fire all your “iReporters”–oh, wait, you can’t, BECAUSE THEY DON’T ACTUALLY WORK FOR YOU BECAUSE THEY’RE NOT REAL JOURNALISTS. Seriously, CNN, I get it. We live in a world where vast numbers of people are walking around with a pretty decent digital camera and the ability to easily distribute what they film with it. There are even contexts in which amateur video is incredibly important–what’s going on right now in Egypt being a great example. But global news media titans don’t devote attention to grainy cell phone footage of funny looking clouds, or a “report” on some family’s efforts to restore family photos damaged in a storm, or “What Congress can learn from your budgetary choices” which I fucking swear is a real video on your website right now that I can’t watch because I don’t want to feel like killing myself. Not only does this phony “iReport” nonsense make you guys look like public access TV, it diminishes the import of the really vital amateur video of important world events. Please, stop.
- Stop with the Facebook and the Twitter and the Tumblr and OH MY GOD JUST STOP READING THIS SHIT TO ME. I promise you, I don’t give the slightest shit what @fuckingthatchicken69 has to say about ANYTHING, and neither does anybody else other than @fuckingthatchicken69 and possibly his friends and family although I seriously question that. And NO, that doesn’t mean I want to hear from @tapthatass24 or @hookemhorns05 either! I don’t care! Twitter is a great outlet for your reporters to communicate with viewers, answer questions, hit back at unfair criticism, and bring some transparency to what you’re doing (although this kind of shit probably shouldn’t happen), but reading twits on the air does not constitute “news,” nor is it in any fashion entertaining if that’s what you were going for in lieu of doing the “news” like you keep telling everybody that you’re doing.
- Keep Anderson Cooper. He’s really good! He goes to tough places in crisis situations and reports hard and long-form news as well as anybody on cable prime time!
- Make the whole network do news all the time. Your window of opportunity to do opinion journalism closed when MSNBC went liberal during prime time, so don’t! REPORT THE NEWS. REPORT IT OBJECTIVELY. UNDERSTAND THAT “OBJECTIVE REPORTING” MEANS GETTING THE FACTS AND DELIVERING THEM TO YOUR AUDIENCE, NOT GIVING EQUAL TIME TO “BOTH SIDES” WHEN “BOTH SIDES” MAY NOT BE EQUALLY ACCURATE! Do more long-form reporting, like your hour-long mash notes to the presidential candidates but about serious things that actually matter. It’s a big world out there! There’s serious news worth reporting happening all the time, whether Americans know about it or not (HINT: you guys reporting on it will help Americans to know about it)! Maybe dedicate an hour a night to something terrible that’s happening somewhere in the world that Americans have absolutely no idea is happening! That would be pretty goddamn awesome and set you completely apart from the screaming hair-on-fire people on Fox and MSNBC. Part of doing good journalism is explaining to your audience that they should care about stuff they might not automatically care about! You could do that!
- Hire some people who “know things” or “have computers and can use Google.” Without reviewing all the painful details from your reporting on the shooting at the Sikh gurdwara shooting in Wisconsin, it really shouldn’t take hours for the Worldwide Leader in News to figure out what a “Sikh” is. Part of your mission as a news organization is to be better informed than your viewers, not to meander cluelessly through events. Hire some people who know some things about things, or can at least quickly look them up because, really, this is not that hard. And while we’re on the subject, the practice of showing raw live video and having an unprepped anchor narrate over it without any goddamn idea what he or she is looking at? That should probably happen as little as possible.
- Interview people who actually matter, and do it well. I know Americans are to be shielded from the Al-Jazeera at all costs lest they catch the vapors and die of cognitive dissonance, but you guys maybe could try watching them every once in a while? Anchors there tend to interview actual newsmakers and/or expert analysts (WHAT IS AN EXPERT? WELL, FOR EXAMPLE, IT IS NOT ERICK ERICKSON) to seriously discuss the news and offer insight and explanation to the viewer. CNN eschews the interview in favor of the “both sides” debate where two Guys yell at each other, talk over the interviewer, and then we gratefully go to commercial dumber than we were before the segment began. When Al-Jazeera anchors interview these people they insist on answers, they don’t ask questions that lead to five minutes of filibustering spin or meaningless bickering and then say “well, that’s all the time we have.” Yes, sometimes they have people on who disagree with one another, and sometimes those disagreements are quite heated, but they show the heated disagreement even if it risks making one or both parties look like idiots. I don’t want to watch A. Guy, Republican Strategist, and Some Lady, former press secretary to Some Democrat, shout talking points at each other for five minutes in between commercials. I want interviews that involve pointed questions, that further involve followup questions when the initial question isn’t answered, that take as long as they take regardless of commercials, and that aren’t first and foremost about not offending the interviewee so as not to jeopardize future access to something or other. Soledad O’Brien does this sometimes; why can’t the rest of the network follow suit?
- Do what your CNN-International folks do. There’s nothing here that wouldn’t flow naturally from just trying to emulate what your colleagues on the International side do. Well, admittedly it’s been a long time since I watched CNN-I because I don’t do much world traveling anymore, and Americans are generally shielded even from CNN-I’s potential to burst our national worldview, but back when I did watch it, it was really well done and completely different from the clown car you folks on the domestic CNN have been running.
DWD has no idea what he’s talking about, but then again neither does anybody who’s been running CNN for at least the last decade and a half.