CNN & Jeff Zucker

Intel9 is by itself incapable of focusing public interest. So from inception  it has often keyed off CNN, who are usually first, and keep their links in good order. As I studied the media world, I became aware that Zucker’s influence on the CNN voice  rivals, in many ways, the media moguls of legend. This is perhaps disguised  by a genial, persuasive style that contrasts with the capricious, dictatorial legends.

Under Jeff Zucker,  in a state of challenged democracy, CNN became the flag-bearer of modern liberalism. It is a cruel irony that his fall resulted from the application of a very high moral standard which has been rigorously enforced only in the past few years.

CNN has not done well lately. Zucker may have felt that saving democracy is more important. In Chris Wallace announces he is leaving Fox News, joining CNN+, a Great Match, I wrote,

Journalism has a history of frequent, though not inevitable political bias. CNN is these days self-consciously liberal. Liberalism is not by itself the foundation of U.S. political discourse, which is a perpetual state of teeter-totter. To best defend democracy, CNN should build  bridges to those moderate Republicans who believe  defense of democracy is of supreme importance. This can be done by providing a cross-party debate platform on a scheduled basis.

If lack of broad appeal  is the only flaw in Zucker’s approach, his is still a life well lived, to be reflected on with contentment.

Readers of old Intel9 articles are aware that I have occasionally been critical of particular CNN articles. Search sloppy journalism. See CNN and Yellow Journalism, “U.S. bomber flies over DMZ”, and CNN, Shame! Raise Your Standards! “Russia unveils ‘Satan 2 Missile”. Though this sloppiness never involved people, it distorted world affairs in important ways. After AT&T acquired CNN in 2018, this became much less common.

CNN remains highly variable in quality. Politics, particularly tactical, is the strong suite; it always betrays intelligence. Even when I disagree, I think, that is a well-thought out opinion. This does not extend universally to other areas, when too often sophistication is lacking, or the tone patronizing. Too often, the word “expert” is invoked, in place of drilling down to reason.

This take may result from the liberal arts backgrounds of media executives. It even extends to foreign affairs, when the adversary shares nothing of cultural background, and to economics, in discerning the dichotomous rift between numbers and social welfare.

One point of view is that this smudged mirror is the necessary result of tuning the news presentation to the average person. But the smudging affects all of us; public discourse is getting dumb and dumber. Could CNN swipe that mirror with some Windex?


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