Saturday, 03 February 2007

CNN's GLASS HOUSE

Ken Berwitz

I read the most remarkable ad yesterday, from CNN.  Normally I would cut and paste it for you, but - and this is fascinating to me - when I try to do so the verbiage changes.  So help me the wording changes.  For this reason I have typed out its text for you below.  You can see the ad in its original form at http://www.fusespot.com/CNN/ac360/  . 

First, read what the ad says.  Then we'll talk:

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IT'S CALLED JOURNALISM

On Katrina recovery efforts:  He asked the tough questions.

On the ravages in Africa:  He went right to the region.

On our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq:  He's reported from the region repeatedly, and devoted more time and attention than any nightly newscast.

And when Fox News Channel "reported" irresponsible rumors about Barack Obama's past:  He called them on it.

AC 360 has sliced Fox News Channel's lead by 84% at 10pm weeknights in little more than a year on the air.

Anderson Cooper and AC 360 winner of:  The Peabody, The duPont Award and 3 Emmy Awards.

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-Ok, let's start at the beginning.  The ad is whiney and insulting towards Fox, which CNN clearly considers itself to be superior to. 

But CNN is the organization whose news division president, Eason Jordan, admitted in a New York Times op-ed piece several years ago that CNN cooked the stories coming out of Baghdad for 12 YEARS, because he didn't want to deal with saddam hussein.  This is not - repeat, not - an interpretive opinion of mine.  Here is Jordan in his own words (my bold print):

Over the last dozen years I made 13 trips to Baghdad to lobby the government to keep CNN's Baghdad bureau open and to arrange interviews with Iraqi leaders. Each time I visited, I became more distressed by what I saw and heard awful things that could not be reported because doing so would have jeopardized the lives of Iraqis, particularly those on our Baghdad staff.

Are we clear on this?  Was that plain enough for you?  CNN intentionally altered its reporting from Iraq for 12 years, to make saddam's regime look better.   This is the "news" source that looks down on Fox???

-Now we move to the allegation that Fox "'reported' irresponsible rumors about Barak Obama's past (the quotation marks are CNN's).  

Did they?  Fox reported an Insight Magazine story that claims Hillary Clinton's staff uncovered a four year period where Obama was schooled in a madrassa.  I read the Insight article and they never ever said or implied they knew it to be true, only that Clinton's people were floating it.  Their sources were, and remain, unnamed - just as countless CNN stories have nameless sources.  Plus, Insight stands by their article.  So what exactly did Fox do wrong? 

CNN, for the record, has continually reported speculative stories without named sources about President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Karl Rove and the war in Iraq.  Talk about living in a glass house.

-Finally, we come to the funniest one of all:  The claim that Anderson Cooper has sliced Fox's lead by 84% at 10PM (when his show airs).

That 84% incorporates some pretty fancy footwork, folks, because it is an illusory percentage, based on an obscure reading of Neilsen data which are NOT SHOWN in the ad and bear no resemblance to reality.  Allow me to prove it:

The latest available data (Thursday) which are entirely typical if you look back through the preceding days and weeks, have Greta Van Susteren's show at 1,295,000 total viewers.  84% of 1,295,000 is 1,087.000.  In other words, if Anderson Cooper started at NO viewers, he would need to get to 1,087,000 for this claim to be valid.  Of course he started with hundreds of thousands of viewers which means he'd need even more, but let's pretend in CNN's favor. 

Well, Anderson Cooper's viewership is not 1,087,000.  It is 815,000.  CNN, therefore, is full of crap.   And playing "figures don't lie but liars figure" games with Neilsen ratings doesn't change this a bit.

I could go on, but I would hope you get the message by now.  The moral of this story is; don't toss stones when you live in a glass house.  Even if you're the legendary (in your own mind) CNN. 

Maybe this is why Fox blew past them.


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