APRIL 30, 2001
In defense of CNN?
© 2001 WorldNetDaily.com

CNN (a.k.a. Clinton News Network; Comedy News Network; Crummy News Network; Certainly Not Neutral) is taking flak for hiring actress Andrea Thompson to read news.

Frankly it may be the best thing to happen to the foundering pioneer since it lucked out and had three guys stuck on a rooftop in Baghdad.

As prelude to what some may view as a defense of the indefensible, let me remind readers I have been a consistent critic of CNN. Both on my radio programs and in this space, I have excoriated CNN over the years for a chronic series of blunders.

In June of 1998 I wrote, "To say I have been annoyed, frustrated and PO'd at the reprehensible, lousy, insulting piece of journalistic excrement that CNN broadcast on June 7 is a grossly inadequate means of expressing my revulsion." I also observed, "when alleged journalists present such a blatant disinformation piece of whole cloth propaganda, it is a sadness. Peter Arnett and April Oliver are contemptible excuses for human beings ... a real waste of skin." My wife is still annoyed I used that line.

From the "Tailwind" fiction to CNN having hired active duty army propagandists as interns, and the Rich Kaplan erstwhile protection of his bud Billy Jeff from CNN journalistic scrutiny, I have not been shy about criticizing CNN. I have been spammed, cussed out, threatened and (as my mother feared) been told "You'll NEVER work for CNN!"

That having been stated, let me observe a few annoying realities for the indignant CNN purists and former CNN staffers still bleeding as a result of the massive cutbacks:

I discovered an amusing website, TedsTurnovers.com, you may want to visit. It is petty, mean-spirited, pouty and -- oh yeah -- funny. It was created by some of those beforementioned former CNN staffers who were unceremoniously handed a cardboard box and instructed to clean out their desks and as the queen in "The Princess and the Pea" once said, "Goodbye, good luck, and GET OUT!"

The hiring of Andrea Thompson, a good looking, talented actress has sparked the cuckold CNNers to complain, "For more than 15 years her specialty has been portraying fictional characters on television, and for CNN, that was right up their alley. Beginning in June, actress Andrea Thompson, whose most recent TV roles were as Det. Jill Kirkendall on 'NYPD Blue,' and as Cmdr. Allison Krennick on 'JAG,' will join the anchor-reporter squad at CNN, after a very brief stint with New Mexico station, KRQE, her first news job." Meow! An invasion of CNN's territorial imperative!

I recall when non-broadcasters started to invade my turf and celebrity radio talk show hosts were as common as pigeon dropping in Trafalgar Square. Most of them failed to create audience, but a few still survive because they made the transition from what they were to what they are. The market and the audience will decide what is right or wrong, not the presumed victims of unemployment. Celebrity may provide accelerated opportunity, but it will not guarantee longevity unless or until the interloper is successful in building and maintaining audience. That's a fact.

Writes TedsTurnovers.com, "And Carl Rochelle questions why he's unemployed? With stellar television and film credits such as 'Captain Simian & The Space Monkeys,' 'Baywatch,' 'Silk Stalkings: Meat Market,' and 'A Gun, A Car, A Blonde,' Thompson's resume was impressive enough to beat out the numerous veteran CNN correspondents which were laid off in January."

Hello? Snottiness aside, it doesn't matter if Thompson previously worked on "Baywatch" or "Seasame Street." As a veteran of "Baywatch," "JAG" and "NYPD Blue" Thompson has participated in something "numerous veteran CNN correspondents which were laid off in January" have not. She has helped build and maintain audience.

I don't mean to denigrate headline newsreaders (too much), but what is the job description and what are the requirements?

  1. They have to be able to read off a teleprompter and make it seem ("act") as if they are talking directly to the audience. In addition to reading, the anchor must be able to convey emotion, tone and shading. Gee, kinda sounds like "acting" doesn't it?
  2. The reader must be able to take cues (direction), make transitions (acting) and hit hard time limits.
  3. The reader must have a clearly understood and pleasant voice, good grooming and appearance.
In other words, performance skills, not credentials, are paramount.

Can Andrea Thompson do that as well or better than the myriad Ken and Barbies doing so now? You damnbetcha! It doesn't matter Jack-spit if she graduated from anything or if she can explain the distinctions between fiat money and the gold standard.

Thompson's new job is to look good, read well and -- most important of all -- build and maintain audience. If she does that she will be successful. If she doesn't perform well for CNN she may yet find success reading news for NBC, ABC, CBS, or maybe even playing a news anchor in a movie.

"Prejudice, which sees what it pleases," once observed Aubrey T. DeVera, "cannot see what is plain."