CNN Commercializes Its Beauties and Beasts
Even for those of us living in Portugal, there’s plenty of news available in English, especially via computer and “smart” TV.
Among the staples that come with our Internet packages are “news” channels Al Jezeera (Qatar), BBC (UK), Bloomberg (USA), CCTV and CGTN (China), CNN (USA), Euro News (EU), France 24, KBS World (Korea), Sky News (UK), i24 (Israel), NHK World (Japan), and TRT World (Turkey). All in English. Snippets from other news outlets can be accessed as well via their YouTube feeds.
Can you guess which channel uses the following slogans?
• “Facts First”
• “Journalism that Reflects the World We Live In”
• “Go There”
• “Capturing the Moment”
• “Journalism That Matters”
If you guessed CNN, good for you. (Or maybe not.) You may be viewing too much of this cable-sourced channel that uses these catchphrases as part of its “This Is CNN” branding campaign.
Surely, anyone who watches CNN has heard and seen one of its famous faces in a “I’m (name) … and THIS is CNN” promotion.
Pay attention to how they emphasize the “… and THIS” part of the sentence: dramatic, seductive, exclamatory, emphatically, defensively, declaratory, et al. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is, perhaps, the only one to say the word (this) nonchalantly, without shouting it out over his name or the other words.
While I tend to channel hop and surf to get different perspectives on the same happenings, I confess that I spend more time with CNN than with all the others combined. Because I’m American. Perhaps that’s why I’m so opinionated and annoyed at what used to be known as the Cable News Network.
I’ve gotten to know CNN’s people—their actions, voices, looks, and demeaner. Some of them drive me nuts; others deserve accolades and more airtime than they’re given.
Women, especially, are featured in the promotions.
Can any CNN-watcher hear the words “I am Nigerian by blood, British by birth, and American by residence,” without identifying CNN’s own Cleopatra—Zane Asher? She adds: “It is important that those same strands of inclusivity that flow through me are mirrored in the stories that we tell.”
Am I the only one a bit dismayed by the inclusive promotion with diminutive (size one?) Lady Julia Chatterly’s hip gyrations in the continuous commercials for her First Move show?
CNN men should be roasted or toasted, too, when the shoe fits.
Wolf Blitzer, for instance, surely befits his name. I get nervous and edgy every time I’m in his situation room with breaking news.
Or the ubiquitous Richard Quest who’s hardly ever on his own primetime program anymore? How anyone can be so obnoxious, crude, rude, and in-your-face infuriates me. We all know people who don’t listen because they’re too busy getting their own next words ready. That’s Richard Quest. Maybe the network sees him as an asset, but, to me, he’s just an ass that turns me off whenever his gravelly pitch folk voice grinds. “On assignment” or traveling around his world of wonder, it’s good to see the stand-ins whose presentations are always better? It’s time to say “Good riddance” to Richard Quest and his Clarabell ringer.
Actually, the one thing on CNN that bothers me more than that horrid man is watching gruesome images of the devastation in Turkey and Syria (or Ukraine) violated by that little box on the lower right hand of the screen updating the status of stock markets worldwide. Yeah, poor people are suffering but the wealthy merchants of gloom and doom can’t be left without their score cards.
It’s what Quest would call one of his “profitable moments.”
In other news, replacing Hana Gorami with Isa Soares was a brilliant move on CNN’s part. While the former was repeatedly caught live and on-camera looking bored, fidgeting, and forgetting her lines, the latter is dynamic … whether on air or on the ground. And she’s Portuguese—fluent in her native language, English and Spanish as well.
Isn’t it time to retire the promo for Erin Burnett’s OutFront show? A “potential breakthrough in treating Corona virus,” and whether “all this spending” could lead to “a bigger economic crisis” are gone with the wind already. And that poor girl so delighted that a viewer paid her rent that month must have a year pre-paid by now. “Shut up,” she said. Yeah.
Meanwhile, girl-next-door Kaitlan Collins makes a better chatterer than Chief White House Correspondent, in my opinion. That honor now goes to Phil Mattingly, who’s doing an excellent job in show biz now as the former Eddie Munster. Can he fit any more words into his brief broadcast bites? Only dashing Frederik Pleitgen seems able to speak so quickly yet coherently.
Back to Kaitlan: What threesome could be any cuter for an early morning chat fest than Kaitlan Collins, Poppy Harlow, and Don Lemon?
Smart, sassy, and stunning with a mane of auburn hair is Bianca Nobile … but why play hide-and-seek with her (former) half-hour show to pair her with regal Max Foster as co-hosts on the catch-as-can CNN Newsroom? Never mind that he’s handsome and has his own share of good hair.
(Speaking of hair, does any man have more perfectly coiffed hair than John Berman? Ivan Watson’s got great hair, too. And what happened to cutie correspondent David Culter?)
One thing CNN is guilty of, as are most round-the-clock newscasts, is repetition. How many different hosts and reporters can tell the same story – Breaking News! Breaking News! Breaking News! – from different faces and voices? A really big story (Trump’s or Biden’s or Pence’s supposedly classified documents removed from the White House, Library of Congress, or National Archives) breaks. Now that we’ve been told about it, bring in the crowd to give their thoughts, implications, and guesses on the outcome.
Overdone after so many videoclips and playbacks with the has-been experts, it’s time for panel discussions. Honestly, I do enjoy the banter between and among Dana Bash, Abby Phillip, and Van Jones.
Cheers to the “second tier” of CNN anchors—those who fill in for the name “brands” without pomp and circumstance: Fredericka (Fred) Whitfield, Brianna Keilar, Pamela Brown, Jim Acosta, John King.
Clarissa Ward deserves an Emmy, Nobel, and/or Pulitzer prize for her documentary commercials, as well as for her sensitive, sensible, heroic work in Afghanistan and Turkey!
BREAKING NEWS …
When push comes, it’s good to remember that there’s more than one CNN in town. The new CNN Portugal (in Portuguese) can learn some important lessons from the intrusive tactics of its American counterpart.
We can, too …
Perhaps it will motivate more of us to focus on our Portuguese.
Bruce Joffe is publisher and creative director of Portugal Living Magazine.