Puck News reporter Dylan Byers had another nauseating piece Monday about the post-Jeff Zucker fallout at CNN and, after a clownish meeting with the D.C. bureau that warned his ouster was dangerous for democracy and left CNNers brainless without Zucker’s edicts, it was New York City’s turn. And, apparently, Zucker’s sudden resignation has been, according to Alisyn Camerota, “a huge shockwave to all our mental health.”
A former CNN Media reporter, Byers obtained the audio of the meeting (as he did with the D.C. hubbub) and he said it “highlighted the profound sense of loyalty that CNN’s on-air talent have expressed toward Zucker and the overwhelming sense of grief that they feel in his absence[.]”
Byers said that, as “the grieving continues—and continues, and continues,” it’ll take “some time” for WarnerMedia’s Jason Kilar to recover from having been “a human scream towel for aggrieved anchors to express their frustrations.”
In other words, they’re a cult.
Co-host of the weekday afternoon edition of CNN Newsroom, Camerota claimed what CNN employees have been going through has been “destabilizing,” “unsettling,” and “a huge shockwave to all of our mental health.”
“One of the secrets to mental health is understanding, and the way that happens is getting some answers and some closure. And we don’t have that. We don’t understand why the death penalty was necessary,” she added.
Camerota said pushing Zucker out the door was “affecting my mental health, personally, is the death penalty aspect of this” as “[i]t’s really bewildering.”
Hours after Zucker’s resignation, she publicly swooned that she felt the news “deeply personally” in having lost “a remarkable person and an incredible leader” with “this uncanny ability to make…every one of us feel special[.]”
Quest Means Business host Richard Quest (infamous for having done this) compared CNN employees to soldiers in war (click “expand”):
Richard Quest, the CNN International host, notably questioned Kilar’s handling of the ouster. He described CNN as “an entire company of war pilots that you send out everyday to do battle against governments and other C.E.O.s,” and said that “when it comes to our own company, we’re going to exercise the same critical questioning.” Quest then asked Kilar if there wasn’t “a more imaginative result that would have allowed you to keep the captain instead of throwing the captain overboard while the ship is about to go through icebergs. Was it not possible to find a different solution that would have accomplished the values that you wished to attain, but at the same time didn’t leave us open to the intense and critical pressures that we’ve now received in the last week?”
Kilar handled the question calmly. “It does come back to our values and our principles,” he said. “The answer is: our values come first, and that absolutely is at the heart and soul of this, and I’ll leave it at that.”
Camerota’s co-host Victor Blackwell also made an appearance in Byers’s piece as he lamented that WarnerMedia suits ducked “uncomfortable” conversations, which could be construed as a way of condoning inter-office sexual relationships.
Long thought to be Chris “Fredo” Cuomo’s brother from another mother, Don Lemon pressed Kilar by wondering “what message it sends to the journalists in this company, and also to the larger company, that someone can break with those journalistic standards and get paid handsomely for it.”
Speaking of cartoonish, Brian Stelter offered an embarrassing, drool-filled kiss in Sunday’s Reliable Sources newsletter, describing CNN as filled with noblemen and women whose critics are heartless, unethical, and dangerous trolls (click “expand,” emphasis his):
The sudden loss of CNN’s leader, Jeff Zucker, has caused tremendous turmoil internally and intensive news coverage externally. There is a lot being said about CNN right now that simply doesn’t make sense. So I want to address that – and channel the feelings of the 100+ staffers who I have spoken with since Zucker’s shocking resignation – by sharing some observations.
First: When journalists join CNN, they often marvel at the sheer size of the outfit.
CNN is so much bigger than it appears from the outside.
Imperfect but impressive
CNN is far from perfect. It will never be perfect, because nothing ever is. Reporters will always make mistakes, segments will always go off the rails, shows will always struggle with story selection. Sometimes there will be too many pundit-filled panels, other times there will be too little analysis. Sometimes there will be too much groupthink and too little introspection.
But the place is always trying. Always pushing to be better.
[O]n the day when Zucker was ousted, when staffers were burning up text chains and Slack channels in disbelief, more than 135 correspondents were delivering live shots around the world. More than 215 stories and nearly 90 original videos were published on the website. And the number of internal news alerts? Too many to count. That’s the true raw product of CNN — not a gaffe by me that goes viral on Twitter, not a rant by a guest that gets scandalized on Fox.
Let me underscore again, because I’m channeling many CNN staffers here, that the raw product isn’t perfect. Ask ten CNN staffers and you’ll hear ten different gripes about inefficiencies behind the scenes. There are always ways to improve. But the actual flaws of the place bear no resemblance to the imagination of CNN’s strongest critics. For instance: Trolls bash CNN’s ratings, but the network is in the top 10 on cable. Partisans howl about specific commentators, but the brand is so much bigger than any pundit.
Hope Chinese state media flunkies were reading this and taking notes on how propagandizing is done!
Stelter also took a childish tone toward Discovery and CEO John Malone, lamenting those who don’t fall in line about CNN’s majesty and believe “the Zucker-era CNN was lacking in real journalism clearly were not watching CNN directly.”
“My best guess is that they were watching talking heads and reading columnists complain about CNN,” he added.
This corporate hack went onto insist CNNers were “offend[ed]” and “rubbed…the wrong way” by Malone’s notion that a Discovery-run company would, once again, “actually have journalists” and compete with Fox News.
After a pants-on-fire claim that “[s]avvy journalists” like those at CNN “are always open to feedback and constructive criticism,” Stelter’s corporate speak wound down with both a threat and another joke:
Maybe CNN needs to do a better job telling its own story. That’s not my job.
So the leadership of CNN will change, like it has many times before. The shape of the place may change. The priorities and personalities may change. But CNN’s purpose will not. It cannot.