Jonathan Mahler wrote about the strange symbiosis between Jeff Zucker and the president he helped create.
I watched as CNN was turning Donald Trump into the president of the United States early on. (I’m in the entertainment business myself.) CNN gave Trump millions of dollars of free advertising by promoting his despicable behavior and calling it news. It wasn’t news — it was greed. As more and more viewers tuned in to hear Trump’s latest irrational tirades for amusement, the ad dollars filled the piggy bank for CNN.
When will CNN gain respect again by reporting news in a credible way? Who can take the outlet seriously? Who will believe the real breaking news when it does happen?
Jeff Zucker is interested in only ratings: He gets them not from his talent at making 24-hour news creative, interesting and better than other news channels; he gets them through using politics as situation comedy or reality TV. Zucker is an entertainment executive, and he expects his journalists to be the lead actors in his farce.
News doesn’t have to be boring — it can be put together in such a way that the news of the day is exciting because someone thought beyond the usual presentation. It’s hard work to make news interesting and worthwhile and still hold the audience. Everyone at CNN has to work to make CNN the best place to watch the news. Wolf, Dana, Jake, Gloria, Anderson — your reputation is on the line, so speak up and help create a better, unique way of delivering the news.
As I watch CNN today, I think back to when I saw the very first broadcast of Ted Turner’s CNN. Turner, CNN’s founder, was a visionary: He created 24-hour news. I sat in on a meeting with him once, and all I remember in that meeting was Ted trying to find a new way to deliver programming across the country. He figured that using satellite delivery would benefit all his television networks. He didn’t just stay with the ordinary or the usual; he found a way to make his networks more efficient and deliver programming more quickly.
Jeff, are you listening? Be more of a Ted Turner and less of a Donald Trump. Karen R. Brooks, Park City, Utah
A few observations from a former CNN employee. First, Zucker was not the catalyst for CNN’s current model. The network has been turning politics into sport for nearly 20 years: Zucker just gave the model a megadose of steroids. Second, one interesting thing about the story is the way Mahler describes Zucker’s proximity — both physically and intellectually — to…