Sunday, July 27, 2014

TV: When All Eyes Are On You

Chris Cuomo became the it boy of last week.  That's rarely a good thing.


The CNN star has done what Chelsea Clinton, Ron Reagan, Jenna Bush and so many others have failed to do: establish themselves in a prominent journalism career.  Maybe being spawn of the Oval Office is the hindrance?  Certainly Maria Shriver and Cokie Roberts proved the children of politicians could become big names in the world of broadcast journalism (Cuomo's father is former NY state Governor Mario Cuomo.)

The rise has had bumps from time to time and that's to be expected.

During a recent interview, Cuomo asked US House Rep. Mike Rogers to "shoot down" the rumors that the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 plane crash resulted from a missile (or missiles) being fired on the plane.

A number of people responded with mockery over the word choice.

For us, it's a wince.

Poor word choice that was completely expected in a media system that tries to 'weaponize' the language daily and the natural oops factor involved in live interviews.

It wasn't the end of the world, it wasn't shocking and it wasn't that big of a deal.

Among those running with it?  Comedy Central star Jon Stewart who does what a comedian does: Mock.

Speaking to Eric Wemple (Washington Post), Cuomo expressed his distaste for Stewart.

We like Jon.

That doesn't mean he's not above criticism.

And Chris certainly has the right to say whatever he wants.

But having the right to do something doesn't mean you should.

Chris told Wemple, "If it seems like I'm being disrespectful of Jon Stewart, it's only because I am. He's funny but he doesn't do the job we do and he shouldn't pretend he does."

Is that really appropriate?

When you consider Chris' position, are those remarks really appropriate?

In an interview in May with Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Bernie Sanders, Chris Cuomo rightly noted that Sanders came off like a minimizer for the VA.

We applauded Chris pointing that out.

Was that our mistake?

Maybe so.

We saw it as Chris noting how -- in the midst of the VA scandal about veterans dying as they waited for medical appointments (a scandal CNN's reporting exposed) -- the man he was interviewing seemed uncomfortable standing with veterans and instead elected to carry water for the VA.

But maybe our applause and that of others confused Chris?

It possibly did because, of late, he's felt the need to offer more opinions than a Thomas Friedman column.

And it's only getting worse.  In fact, last week, he took part in CNN's worst on air moment in years.

Cuomo and Peter Lavelle had a cantankerous exchange on air.  We didn't think it was the end of the world but we did agree with Lavelle's take post-interview, "My take coming away from the interview was Cuomo conducted himself like a 'drama queen' appealing to emotions and probably his sense of moral justice.  However, emotions and any sense [of] moral justice are not substitutes for facts."

That is a path Chris seems unable to step off of these days.

Where he used to be able to construct logical arguments in interviews (especially see his work on ABC's 20/20), these days he instead repeatedly pulls out a righteous anger card.  It dumbs down the conversation and makes him come off more like a carny barker and less like a journalist.

Now that was bad but the next day brought far worse.

There was Chris, Kate Bolduan and Michaela Pereira on CNN's New Day with Bob's Big Boy look alike Brian Stelter.  With all going on in the world -- Ukraine, Iraq, Gaza, etc. -- what was the topic for this segment?

Peter Lavelle.

They gushed over Chris and how Chris handled himself in the interview with Lavelle while Chris offered a blend of false modesty and insisting he would have been even tougher if it weren't for the satellite delay.

The four CNN employees used CNN airtime to praise CNN employee Chris and to attack RT and Peter Lavelle.

That alone was unethical and embarrassing.

Things got even worse.

It takes a lot of Ho-Hos to fill Selter's big belly so it was no surprise he brought up Fake Ass Liz Wahl to trash Lavelle and RT.  Wahl is the woman who tried to media event her way into fame but instead fell on her fake ass.  As  Macedonian Intl News Agency noted:

The recent on-air resignation by former RT news anchor Liz Wahl was just the latest stunt orchestrated by a neo-conservative think tank, according to a new investigative report shedding light on the group’s role in an ongoing Cold War revival campaign.
An extensive account of the days and minutes leading up to Wahl’s remarks and public denunciation of “propaganda” tactics during her news segment on March 5 by authors Max Blumenthal and Rania Khalek via truthdig has revealed connections with the little known neoconservative think-tank Foreign Policy Initiative.

Stelter didn't mention that -- maybe he was munching between shots? -- but he did offer what a joke RT was -- an opinion the other three CNN employees agreed with.

This took up an entire segment on a CNN show not called Reliable Sources.

A supposed news program wasted an entire segment to attack one journalist and one news outlet and this was considered appropriate?

Chris Cuomo was blessed with very good looks.  Chelsea Clinton, Ron Reagan and Jenna Bush are also good looking.  Cuomo's rise was based on his work.  He had the chops.  He still does.  But more and more, he's moving away from news and towards attack commentary.

He could have been more.  Maybe he still can.

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