|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
Imagine indeed. Imagine a CNN populated with some of the now seemingly endless array of people from all sides of the political fence that Chris Hayes now gets to wake up in the darkness of the wee hours of weekend mornings to sit around a table and talk intelligently about important issues. Forget the Coulter-vs.-Janeane Garofalo fantasies of Roger Ailes. Imagine a CNN without Wolf Blitzer demanding an apology to Ann Romney from an unimportant liberal pundit-without-portfolio AFTER SHE HAD ALREADY APOLOGIZED. Imagine a CNN where Piers Morgan has been banished again to Britain's Got Talent. Imagine a CNN where the few sane voices on the right such as Reihan Salam could go toe-to-toe with center-leftists like Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias. Imagine a CNN with actual journalists who look like real people. Imagine a CNN that isn't full of moronic showbiz-bots and Washington access whores like Wolf Blitzer and John King. Do you honestly think that there aren't still kids in journalism school who actually want to get the news and report it? It isn't that there's nothing going on, it's just that the plight of returning veterans, why the job market sucks, what's really happening in Afghanistan, what happens in France now that Sarkozy's beendefeated, are ignored in favor of Kim Kardashian's latest boyfriend or who was kicked off of Celebrity Apprentice last night. There are a million journalists out there, some, but not all of them bloggers, for whom a gig at a revived, serious CNN would be a dream come true. Emulating Fox didn't work for CNN. Becoming Moron News Network hasn't worked. Why not try something else? Give the kids a shot at it. Goddess knows it couldn't be any worse.
Here is what you are doing wrong, CNN.
For the better part of the past decade, you guys seem to treat the ticky-tack banalities of the modern world as extra-special gimcracks you just discovered yesterday. You are still reading Twitter to people, on live television. On election coverage nights, your anchors paw at "magic screens" like catnip-tweaked felines chasing after a laser pointer. You made Erin Burnett go out there, on live television, to demonstrate "the flick." Except "the flick" did not, strictly speaking, "work" consistently.
And between all the whooshing and flicking and zooming -- and, when, exactly, did the need to touch the news grow to the point that merely reading it become insufficient? -- everyone on screen is standing around with holographic weebles and political convention simulations. Anderson Cooper, representing your network's last thin shred of self-respect, stood out there on that stage and repeatedly made fun of what was going on around him. (What have you done to poor Anderson Cooper? He is now restaging the old MTV show "Boiling Points" on network television. That is where you have driven him.)
Your debates, CNN? They were a mess. You fully embraced the stupidity of reality television shows, with asinine introductions of the GOP candidates that reminded viewers of the opening credits of "Survivor." And then you asked questions like, "Deep dish or thin crust?" Over the course of a long primary season, viewers gradually grew tired of watching the debates. But they especially grew tired of watching yours.
Shall we continue? Well, there was that time we actually wanted to watch coverage of the May 18, 2010 primary coverage in Pennsylvania, and you guys were airing a Larry King interview with Mick Jagger. Mick Jagger! Why? Why in all the world?
You replaced Larry King with the insufferably thin-skinned Piers Morgan. You replaced Campbell Brown with "Parker-Spitzer." "Parker-Spitzer" was a complete trainwreck, and no one seemed particularly committed to allowing Kathleen Parker to participate in or emerge from the experience with her dignity intact. That show became "In The Arena with Eliot Spitzer." That was on for, like, a week? Now Spitzer is at Current. Surprisingly, we'd call that a lucky break.
Remember that time that Falcon Heene's transparently dishonest parents were caught in a transparent lie right to Wolf Blitzer's face, and Wolf Blitzer was the only person in America that did not instantly recognize what was going on? Or that time General David Petraeus fainted at a congressional hearing, and CNN ran a segment that was, ostensibly, a "closer look at what happens when public figures pass out?" If you recall, General Petraeus' mishap was compared to Marie Osmond's fainting spell on "Dancing With The Stars."
Do you guys recall that until you were shamed from doing so, you planned to send an army of 400 reporters to cover the royal wedding? That was eight times the number of people dispatched to cover the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan. We seem to recall that eventually, it was decided that William and Kate would only merit the amount of personnel sent to Fukushima. Which was great! More people to staff that strange morning show where Ashleigh Banfield prank-calls people.
I'm sure we're leaving something out. Like the time your correspondent on the "Royals" beat, Richard Quest, was arrested in 2008 for drug possession when he was found in Central Park with meth in his pocket and a length of rope tied to his genitals. But we think we've made our point. Over the course of many years, CNN, you have made bad decision after bad decision. Your tanking ratings are not an accident. Things have gone exactly as you have drawn them up.
What's the momentum-building solution? Well here's our suggestion. What if everyone showed up for work at CNN tomorrow to find that all of the people who have been making these decisions were no longer there? What if you could free all of CNN's hard-working news professionals from the terrible grip of your toxic decisions?