A lot of people have written CNN off, to some degree, for their ability to do the news. They associate CNN with more of entertainment/fluff stories – and even worse… taped segments and documentaries. To be fair, nothing about that is incorrect; CNN is going the wrong way. But today, CNN did something impressive. They called in “the big guns,” and they called them in blazing.
As you can see in today’s anchor fill-in sheet, a lot of anchors were noticeably missing today. Instead, CNN had their political stars anchoring and bringing the viewers the latest on the Ukraine crisis. I can’t really comment on the morning coverage (that is to say, New Day’s) as a whole, because today was a snow day, so I slept in a little later than usual. But when I woke up and turned on New Day, Chris Cuomo was interviewing guests and dissecting the issue. One thing I found very fascinating with Jim Sciutto was in the New York bureau. (As noted here, he anchored the evening CNN Newsroom this weekend from NYC). The fascinating thing really wasn’t that Sciutto was in NYC again today – it was that a few hours later, he was back to his normal bureau, reporting live in Washington.
Then 9am came. I kind of suspected Carol Costello was off today, because she hadn’t tweeted or made a Facebook post about what to expect on her show, as she does daily. I hadn’t seen anyone tweet that they would be filling in for her, so I waited patiently to see who it was. And surprisingly, it was Wolf Blitzer. Make no mistake, he may be a relatively boring anchor (and frankly not suitable for morning TV), but he knows his stuff. He did the coverage well. One strange thing, I thought, was that they had Kyra Phillips on stand-by in Atlanta to handle the normal headlines. You may think… Well, why not? But normally, Wolf handles the same headlines plus political stories in both his show, “Wolf” and on The Situation Room, so why not let him do it all in the morning, too? Ditto for when Jake Tapper anchored – Kyra served as a news anchor, while Jake did the Ukraine story.
At 11, John Berman and Michaela Pereira did an abbreviated newscast, which was more or less focused exclusively on Ukraine. Michaela was seen a few times from Los Angeles, but for the most part, John Berman was breaking the news as it happened with the help of CNN’s chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour.
12pm came, and much of Legal View wasn’t to be seen. It was covering Ukraine (with a little about legal stories). Normally, that would irritate me. But with a situation as potentially large as this one? I thought it was warranted.
1pm was the normal Wolf show, more or less, with a heavy focus on Ukraine.
2pm was anchored by Brianna Keilar. I’m sure most people don’t care at all where she was anchoring from, but I’m a bit curious. She normally hosts from Washington when she fills in, but I don’t think she was, because when she brought in chief political analyst Gloria Borger, she said “from Washington,” and their backgrounds were different, so I assume they weren’t in the same studio.
3pm was taken by Anderson Cooper. It was a good broadcast, live from Kiev, but I was a little irritated by the long gaps between guests speaking. I know it was because of the satellite feed and such getting to them and hearing the other person speak, but it makes for awkward silences.
The Lead with Jake Tapper continued the coverage, and currently, the Situation Room will as well. I’ll be interested to see how the remainder of the night goes – will the big guns go home, or stay late and anchor? Personally, I see the rest of CNN’s night being anchored by the usual hosts – the only possible exception is Crossfire. I could see it being preempted (and rightfully so) to continue the coverage.
I made this a bit long winded… But the point is: CNN is still news when it needs to be. And it has massive coverage.