I am sometimes regarded as a prideful fellow. Writing columns suits me, because I can boast to the world about how correct I am in my opinions. This week, however, I would like to make a detour. Perhaps a U-turn, if you will.
I wish to write about how I may have been wrong. Last semester, I wrote a column about the decision to take Jeff Zucker, one of NBC’s old creative leaders, and put him in charge at CNN. I was absolutely positive that would be a complete and certain disaster.
In recent weeks, however, changes that have been made under Zucker’s watch have proven surprisingly tasteful. For starters, the CNN studio and its chyron graphics were revamped and redesigned just in time for coverage of the State of the Union address.
Then CNN acquired a couple of the most respected journalists in the business from ABC News, Chris Cuomo and Jake Tapper. Tapper is correctly regarded by many to be one of the best, if not the best, working journalists today. He is known for his tough coverage and unparalleled objectivity.
Too many journalists wear their personal biases on their sleeve and do not recognize their own inability to appear neutral. This is not a problem for Tapper, as he has covered big stories that have proven damaging to both the left and right without allowing any trifling emotion in the mix.
ABC News’s blundering loss is CNN’s gain.
CNN surprised me with changes by addition. It did it again this week by subtraction.
To my delight, it is getting rid of Soledad O’Brien as an anchor. It is playing down this departure by insisting that she’ll still be making occasional documentaries.
Even that is a laugh, because these few and far between documentaries exist in the vacuum of a “non-exclusive contract.”
In other words, CNN doesn’t mind if other networks get first dibs on her work, which speaks volumes on her journalistic value.
I do not intend to sound petty, but O’Brien is one of the most biased anchors I have ever seen. She was openly combative while feigning objectivity. Last fall, she was interviewing a member of the Romney campaign (it was more like a debate) and during the interview, she accidentally showed on camera the notes she had printed off of a partisan blog.
She sealed her fate a year ago when she invited on a guest, Joel Pollak, to discuss the controversy surrounding a 20-year-old video of President Obama at Harvard. The guest explained the significance of the video in relation to the critical race theory.
O’Brien disgraced herself by visibly losing her cool on the air and allowed another panel member (washed-up former actor Jay Thomas) to begin attacking Pollak as racist without evidence, reason or restraint. Not very professional, and her ratings show it. She will not be missed.
I will be frank and honest. I may have been wrong about Jeff Zucker.
There. I said it. If Zucker’s tenure continues like this, then CNN may be on track to finally compete with Fox News and MSNBC in the ratings battle. Then maybe I can admit I was unequivocally wrong. Maybe.
Reach the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at @coltongavin
Want to join the conversation? Send an email to email@example.com. Keep letters under 300 words and be sure to include your university affiliation. Anonymity will not be granted.