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CNN's potato and pickle puller are gone

Jay Weber Show transcript 8-19-22 6:40am

Well...this much-promised ‘house cleaning’ over at CNN isn’t exactly happening all at once, nor is it impressing me, but at least the potato and the pickle puller are gone.

Months ago, now, a new top executive took over and claimed he wanted CNN to abandon their daily trump and conservative bashing and get back to doing straight news-

And so far, - we haven’t seen that transition.

My initial take is still the correct one: if he wants to return CNN to credibility as a news station, he is going to have to fire every single on-air personality, and the producers of every one of their shows, and probably half of the building.

Because this rabid leftism has become a cultural thing at CNN. Donald Trump’s run for office, somehow, gave them tacit permission to abandon all pretext of objectivity and simply reinvent themselves as the ‘trump opposition’. And they’ve kept it up for six years now.

Even after this new exec has come in-the basic tone of the coverage hasn’t changed- and any promises of a ‘newly retooled’ CNN haven’t been evident.

this exec is making the mistake of thinking that most of his show hosts can ‘get their credibility back’...when they can’t. You only have your credibility and objectivity-once- if you are a news person, and once you abandon it, it’s gone. Everyone else around you-from your colleagues to your readers or viewers- now knows who or what you really are. And who or what you really think.

And so, no, Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon and jack tapper will not...over the span of a few months...morph back into more credible journalists just because they stop bashing trump.

And no, their way of thinking, their ‘go to biases’ of the last six years, and the tone of their panels is not going to revert to being ‘fair’ and ‘balanced’ and credible, no.

But-at least this new management team is finally starting to make some changes. If you missed it last week, the pickle puller, Jeffrey Toobin was let go. He claimed it was his choice to leave...but this was the execs allowing him the more gracious exit. With his pants up, rather than him sort of shuffling out with his pants around his ankles.

And this week-it’s Brian Stelter- who many within the industry started to call the potato...because he’s a round bald guy...who lost any credibility or objectivity that he had, long ago, too.

Stelter started out as a media writer for the NY Times-so- you know that he never really had any. Nor was he ever ‘fair’ or ‘unbiased’. He took over the show when Howard Kurtz left.

And the focus of the show was supposed to be on critiquing the media.Howard Kurtz invented the show, and meant it to be ‘news’ about the media. Critiquing media coverage, etc. And Kurtz held well to that mission.

Then Stelter took over in 2013 and it became much more about his leftism and his personal vendettas or grievances against other hosts.

And over the last few years? If Stelter didn’t have Tucker Carlson to talk about and smear...he wouldn’t have had enough content to do the show. Stelter’s show on CNN- became almost entirely about bashing Tucker and Sean Hannity over at fox.

It was odd, and myopic and petty. And it was fueled by personal sniping on and off the short... Stelter violated one of the basic rules of doing a topical talk show: it’s not about ‘you’ or your personal obsessions. It’s about trying to be topical and entertaining and broader based.

The best, most successful talk radio shows that we’ve seen and I’ve ever heard- including Rush’s and Mark’s and Mark Levin’s- cover a broader range of topics and are geared toward informing and entertaining...and if they have any amount of personal interests related to the host, it’s only a small amount.And then, it’s generally lighthearted. It’s mark talking about his horse racing, or rush talking about football, or golf.

It’s not the hosts obsessing over a single topic or arranging about their personal vendettas. Those are the worst types of talk radio or

‘Talk TV’ shows.

I have seen a few talk radio hosts fall into the trap of becoming ‘activists’ or thinking that their show is a platform for political activism-instead of having the mission of being an entertaining, informing show that services a larger audience. Bad mistake.

You weren’t hired to organize BLM or Club for Growth. You were hired to do a compelling show and make money for the company. 

Whether a topic is interesting, informative, or entertaining-or all three- needs to be the primary litmus test for these shows- always.

And years ago, on this station, when Don Imus got hung up on his boring personal stuff or boring obsessions-his show never sucked more.

And i can think of two local shows currently-on other stations- whose hosts are doing this now...harming their own ratings.

And Brian Stelter over at CNN has been doing it for years.   For years. His show has been ‘let me tell yah why Tucker sucks’.... instead of more broadly criticizing the media.

And what’s self-defeating about that approach -is what? CNN viewers need to flip over to fox news to watch tucker...just to be ‘in on Stelter club’...the next night?

So- at CNN-you are pushing people to flip over to Fox? Just watch this guy. Just watch this guy. You know what he said last night? We’ve got the clip.

So-your show-on CNN? Is showing clips of Tucker’s show on Fox?

And if you don’t watch tucker’s show on aren’t really in the ‘Stelter fan club’?

Well-okay.... I guess I’ll just watch something else, then.

Meanwhile Tucker Carlson’s show has exploded past three million viewers a night. He has more viewers in that slot than Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity ever had... And Stelter can’t even draw a million viewers over at CNN?

Of course, he can’t. He keeps telling the audience to watch fox!

(Greg-does the audience find this interesting? Or am i now violating my own rule against doing insider, boring radio?)

And so, here’s one ‘fun kicker’ on Stelter being released. He’s the first high profile CNN employee to be fired over the last year that-wasn’t-shoved out as part of a sex scandal.

Remember this fun?

Brian Stelter is the first guy to be fired from CNN over the last year who- just sucked. No sex scandals. No secret intra-office affair. No pervy brother in the governor’s office. 

He was just...fired...for his talent. Or the lack-thereof.

And here’s the ‘double kicker’ to CNN releasing the potato and the pickle puller: Brian Stelter and Jeffrey Toobin still-were not- the biggest reasons that CNN is now struggling to attract even a half-a-million viewers per night. 

They were bit players. Not at all the face of CNN, really.

Don lemon is still there. Anderson Cooper is still there. Jake tapper is still there. Jim Acosta is still there. The executive producers and staffers who control the content of their shows-are all still there. 

Heck-most of the people who enabled Jeffrey Zucker and Chris Cuomo and their scummy behavior-are still there.

CNN’s new execs still haven’t dealt with the much larger rot. 

photo credit: Getty Images

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