|Hey CNN, This is The FCC
By: Shawn Paul Wood
Last week, we lost a legend when Mike Wallace of '60 Minutes' fame died. He represented a time when America knew its reporters — people like Walter Cronkite, Peter Jennings, and even Edward R. Murrow. Those days are long gone. How do I know? Joy Behar, Steve Doocy, and Eliot Spitzer, for starters. What's it say about our country and how we digest news that our top two faces for news are Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert?
Don't get me wrong — those guys are great, but they're not journalists.
However, it seems that even though people who claim that appellation are qualified to do so, their aptitudes should prevent them from doing so. Meet Susan Candiotti. She's been with CNN since 1994. She has covered 9-11. She went to Kuwait. She helped with coverage on Katrina and the Oklahoma City bombing. The girl knows her stuff. And she is responsible for a viral explosion with arguably the dumbest mistake on national TV. Ever.
DATELINE: Tulsa, Okla. In short, two bigoted dolts who aren't worth the space in this blog post shot five black men. It's been a big ballyhoo in the press, so Susan is in Tulsa covering what one of these simpletons posted on Facebook post
alleged murder. Although the quote from the Facebook post doesn't do this colossal flub justice and the video in the link is highly recommended, I'll quote her brilliance here:
Only, CNN didn't bleep her. And despite her disclaimer and the actual words in the two shots of the Facebook were blurred, Candiotti decided to run blue and roll with it. Upon the return to studio, Fredricka Whitfield, stoic and fuming, said, "We apologize to our viewers for such profanity being used on our air." This would be an isolated incident, only it's not. Last month, this same story caused another CNN journalist Drew Griffin to rattle that term. On-air. Uncensored. That video is here...and also recommended viewing.
"'Today is two year that my dad has been gone, shot by' — and please excuse the language, it's very sensitive — 'shot by an effing [N-word],'" she said.
Of course, maybe it's just CNN that thinks news requires schtick and FCC non-compliance. Then I remembered a phallic and presidential reference that went over MSNBC's airwaves. Or some anti-semitic remarks by Rick Sanchez, formerly of CNN fame. And then there is Geraldo Rivera of FOX News, who started the stylish hoodie craze across the country.
All three of these news channels had great, viewable qualities at one time. Now, it's completely one-sided prather void of impartiality...and sometimes common sense. Maybe that's why 'The Daily Show' and 'The Colbert Report' are so popular. People expect jocularity and a pragmatic look at the news. When they watch the big nationals, they expect, you know, journalism the way it should be.
Regretfully, that will never happen again, which means the days of Murrow, Jennings, and Cronkite are long gone. So strap on your censors and enjoy the news. It's going to be a bumpy ride.
Shawn Paul Wood
is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is G.M. and PR Director at Bolt PR
in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here
or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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