CNN Continues to be the Trailer in News About…CNN – RedState

CNN Continues to be the Trailer in News About…CNN – RedState

Looking into the odd practice of CNN reporting on itself through outside outlets.

The latest news to come from the ongoing operatic telenovela that is the CNN executive meltdown is that the disgraced and dismissed former star of the network, Chris Cuomo, had lodged a massive lawsuit against his former employer. His comically inflated figure of $125 million is based on the denial of future work, his claim is that his barely-in-the-top-30 ratings would have generated that in future income.

In referencing this suit, CNN’s Brian Stelter — via his Reliable Sources newsletter — gives us the information. Well…technically he doesn’t; he gives us the report from the Washington Post, which provides us with the details.

WaPo’s Jeremy Barr wrote, Cuomo’s lawyers argued “that the $125 million he is seeking represents not just $15 million remaining from his CNN contract but also future ‘decades of earnings’ that they argue he has been deprived of because ‘CNN’s calculated efforts to tar and feather him’ left him ‘untouchable in the world of broadcast journalism…’”

In this same segment, Stelter’s ward, Oliver Darcy, reporting from their Fox Cave, gives more shading on the court case – also from another source.

Now there is a level of understanding here, as it is very probable that Cuomo does not want to speak with anyone at his former perch. However, this follows a consistent pattern seen over the past half-year or so where the reporting about CNN frequently is not being done BY CNN. Throughout the various scandals, Stelter and Darcy have routinely told of what is transpiring under their roof by giving us reporting done from outside their front door.

Over the past year, the network has been embroiled in numerous foundation-shaking stories, from Cuomo’s clown show to the ouster of President Jeff Zucker, to the multiple sex scandals involving staff and producers, as well as the embarrassing product being broadcast and the dismal ratings slide all year. You can understand if there is recalcitrance on their part in being forthcoming, but in their efforts at addressing these stories, many times they rely on outside intel.

In the days following the Zucker ouster, there were plenty of items to report upon, and yes – Stelter and others provided coverage, with some key insight into the workplace reaction. But every so often, nuggets would come up referenced from outsider sources, providing information from inside CNN that you would expect to have been provided by the players at CNN. In one example, Stelter references a breakdown of the timeline of Zucker’s removal. It was something drawn up by CNBC.

Discovery CEO David Zaslav learned of Zucker’s resignation only hours before it happened. CNBC, which first reported the timeline, observed that “Zucker’s departure could give Zaslav more freedom to decide how to proceed with CNN’s live programming and CNN+ without having to butt heads with a friend.”

CNN is also going through upper-level changes, as Warner Media is merging with Discovery Networks, leading to both a major change in the executive offices and in how the network will be steered. I noted just ahead of the Cuomo firing that this could be the reason Cuomo meets his demise. In another example of CNN’s disconnected reporting, a major player in the merger, and a vocal presence in the days prior to all the executive drama, is said to be involved. Said not by CNN personnel, but by another news source. 

The Malone factor  Oliver Darcy writes: “Buried in a lengthy report from Deadline’s Dominic Patten and Ted Johnson is an intriguing detail: ‘Discovery’s largest shareholder, John Malone, a critic of CNN, made it known that corporate procedures had to be followed to the letter in regards to Zucker, we hear. Being that WarnerMedia’s standards of business conduct require disclosure of relationships that develop with a boss and subordinate, Zucker’s goose was officially cooked.’ Discovery must legally remain at arm’s length from WarnerMedia until the deal receives government approval. One thing many people will immediately remember, though, is that Malone signaled late last year that he was not a fan of Zucker’s iteration of CNN. I asked a Malone rep for comment about both Deadline’s report and Zucker’s exit. ‘John has no comment,’ his spokesperson replied…”

On February 15, Stelter was detailing some of the machinations behind the removal of Allison Gollust, Jeff Zucker’s paramour. In that report, he mentioned how Gollust sent out a scathing email regarding the way she was let go. He cited Justin Baragona, of the Daily Beast, as his source for this email from her.

Gollust hits back You may recall that on the day Zucker departed CNN, Gollust said she would continue working at the network as the head of marketing and communications. She was seen at the company’s New York office last week and was still working with her teams on the CNN+ rollout, upcoming events and other matters. Something apparently changed this week, and in a hurry, because Gollust told colleagues in an email that WarnerMedia “jumped the gun” on the announcement of her exit.

The oddest example of this third-party in-house news reporting was a brief mention made by Oliver Darcy in the Reliable Sources newsletter in December, just after the firing of Chris Cuomo. Referencing an announcement by publisher Harper Collins that it would be canceling an impending book deal with Cuomo, that had been slated to publish this year, Darcy linked to the New York Times breaking that story. 

Mary Altaffer

But next, Darcy references comments from Jeff Zucker on the matter, and the feeling of an arms-length reporting on his own network is rather strong. Zucker is quoted as declaring that Cuomo would not be receiving a severance package from the network, and how there was no statement from Cuomo’s reps. Except, this derived from a CNN town hall that Jeff Zucker staged for CNN employees. Darcy would have had first-person knowledge of this, but instead, he gives us these scant details – via the Wall Street Journal?!

Meanwhile, Jeff Zucker said during a CNN-wide town hall that the news outlet will not pay Cuomo a severance. A Cuomo spokesman “had no comment on the CNN decision,” WSJ’s Ben Mullin wrote here

This just delivers an odd feeling of reluctance. If either these reporters at CNN are prevented from full disclosure, or they are striving to minimize negative news about themselves, the effect is still the same. Readers are left with a reality of the media experts at CNN appearing incapable of gleaning information under their own roof.

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