Thursday, July 26

Outrage in the World of...Wait a Minute, Did You Say Journalism?

Rachel Sklar, "Paula Zahn Resigns From CNN: Another Graceless Exit, Courtesy Of Jon Klein." HuffPo, July 26
Wow - is history repeating itself? Because it sure feels like the fall of 2005: Bright young star is built up at CNN as the next big thing, while older, established network stalwart, on the job in earnest since September 11, 2001, is shunted aside with ostentatious silence from the brass and hushed whispers from everyone else. Sound familiar? Today, it's the story of Paula Zahn 's wholly unsurprising resignation from CNN amid the hoopla of Campbell Brown 's ascendancy — but it might as well be the tale of Aaron Brown being not-so-subtly shoved out in favor of Anderson Cooper just over a year and a half ago. What they both have in common: The utter lack of grace and class on the part of CNN, transparently elbowing yesterday's stars out of the way for the newer, younger model.

WOW, okay, so, like, Dick York has been replaced by Dick Sargent. I'll admit, I'm having a hard time getting too worked up about it. Or maybe it's the eternal optimist in me: I don't really see it as America losing an all-purpose carnival shill. It's more like we're gaining a dedicated Bush fluffer.

And this, I've just learned, follows Klein replacing dime-store mannequin Soledad O'Brien with Malibu-Stacy-soundalike Kiran Chetry (may her adenoids hold out for the 7.25 years she's got). Did the quality of teevee morning news suffer as a result? Is that even theoretically possible? And where do I even find CNN, on the off-chance I'd need it? It's somewhere near Headline News, I think, the sister operation which used to bring you headline news, as I recall it, and now brings you Glenn Beck and Nancy Grace. Gee, I hope there's not a line of Pretty Faces waiting to bump those two off.

Ms Sklar, do you know the one about the English lawn? Gina Lollabrigida tells it in Beat the Devil. Maybe Bogart (they're married; it's a very funny picture) does the punchline. It's been a while since I've seen it. An Italian visitor asks the British peer, "However do you get those wonderful English lawns? I'd love to have one back home." And the reply is, "First you get a piece of land. Then roll it every day for six hundred years..."

It's remarkable, in a disposable culture, how quickly crap becomes the baseline. It seems like only yesterday that Paula Zahn was reading recipes off a teleprompter, and looking around for someone she could push out of an anchor chair, and here I turn around and someone is writing wistfully about her thirty years as a journalist. Journalist? Hughes Rudd was a journalist. His replacement by the smarmy Bill Kurtis and the descent of CBS Morning News into the cess of entertainment news is a tragedy. Linda Ellerbee and Lloyd Dobyns working in promotion is a tragedy. Paula Zahn getting kicked out a the sandbox so the younger kids can play is not. It's an opportunity for her to spend her newly discovered free time on her hobby, chasing nesting birds out of trees. Call it an American success story, circa 2007.


KathyR said...

A measure of my out-of-it-ness: I didn't know "Campbell Brown" was a woman. Seriously. I mean, short of actually watching CNN, how would I know?

D'you think they call her "Campy?"

Oh, and the meerkat is killing me.

R. Porrofatto said...

Excellent takedown of a ridiculous article, and the ridiculous cable news biz. Years ago, I met a young woman who had just graduated from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas with a degree in "Broadcast Journalism." Not to disparage UNLV but the atmosphere between the ears of this person was so thin that she practically floated. Her supreme goal in life was to "do on-camera standup in a major market," which I gather meant "reporting" hurricanes and the like. For all I know, she is Campbell Brown. (As an aside, I know you've read Life in the Emerald City, so it may be amusing to see how Brown's clueless hubby, Dan Senor, will affect her "reporting.")

I'm convinced that if it weren't for the BBC (sadly, the increasingly shallow BBC that for some reason seems to want to emulate our crap), there would be no news on television.

D. Sidhe said...

I've been somewhat distracted, so really all I can say here is "ditto". But also, while the meerkat is cute, I miss the chick.