Erin Burnett: Ratings gold?

Has my absolute least favorite anchor after the noon hour suddenly begun to earn her two million dollar salary?

Most recently, Erin Burnett has done very well at 7pm, coming in solid at second, and even beating Greta Van Susteren on Fox News on Friday.

But Erin has also been outperforming CNN’s golden boy (and, coincidentally, another of my non-faves), Anderson Cooper, in the demo and overall viewers. AC360, while still consistently in second at 8pm, hasn’t been pulling in the numbers Erin does at 7pm. On some days when Anderson outperforms her in the demo, Erin manages to outperform him in total viewers. Take October 14th as an example. OutFront posted 152,000 demo viewers; AC360 had 163,000. Yet OutFront had 667,000 total viewers, to AC360‘s 443,000.

It’s taken some time (forever, actually), but maybe Erin is just what CNN needs to open primetime… And maybe Piers Morgan is right. Maybe Anderson shouldn’t be in primetime.

Jamie Stelter enjoying herself

Jamie Stelter is the wife of CNN senior media correspondent, Brian Stelter. On the day CNN NYC staffers were being laid off, she was in the hallways, taking selfies, enjoying herself. You may think, well, maybe she was just caught up in the moment.

Not likely. She’s works in TV news!
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The Daily Caller has this disappointing story:

Emmy-nominated traffic anchor for NY1, Jamie Stelter – the wife of CNN “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter – may be ripe for an insensitivity award.

Last week, while CNNers were packing up their stuff after getting laid off, she was outside in the hallway on the 5th floor taking selfies.

Six days later, her husband would go on his program and say what a “tough week” it has been at CNN.

Sure, tough for some, as someone (sources say it was him) took pictures of his wife taking a selfie in front of his ginormous poster.

According to a Mirror spy, “Some people were complaining she was actually taking selfies while people were packing up their desks. And sure enough, she actually was and even posted the photo on her feed. So when her husband is talking about how tough a week it was last week at CNN, he might have mentioned to his wife that it’s obnoxious and insensitive to be taking selfies (and having him take a photo of her taking a selfie) while people’s careers ended.”

Not sure what’s weirder — Stelter’s wife taking a selfie in front of her husband’s CNN poster or Brian Stelter allegedly snapping pictures of her taking a photo of herself in front of his gigantic picture.

I think she missed the perfect opportunity to take a selfie with just Rachel Nichols… But what do I know?

Dish drops CNN and HLN

Dish Network has dropped the entire Turner Broadcasting family.

Here is the press release from Turner:

Despite our best efforts, we were unable to reach an agreement with Dish Network, and they have unilaterally decided to pull CNN, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, truTV, TCM, HLN, CNN en Espanol and Boomerang off the air upon the expiration of our current deal. Turner has worked diligently for months to come to a fair agreement including multiple extensions and compromises, and it’s unfortunate that Dish is once again operating in a disruptive manner that takes away networks and programming from their customers. We are hopeful our counterparts will return to the negotiating table, and we’ll get a deal completed.

Losing Dish certainly isn’t a good thing, given the current ratings’ war.

Don Lemon is a stronger lead-in for Rachel Nichols

On Friday night, there was a special thirty-minute edition of CNN Tonight. Ironically enough, I had suggested they do this a few weeks ago… and last week, coincidentally, it occurred.

Don Lemon regularly posts strong ratings at 10pm, so having him do a shortened edition of CNN Tonight only makes sense, as opposed to the CNN Spotlights.

Last Friday, Unguarded with Rachel Nichols had 138,000 viewers in the key demo. (CNN Tonight had 139,000 viewers).

Previously in October, Unguarded had 64,000 viewers on October 10th; on October 3, Unguarded had a measly 36,000 viewers.

(On a related note: Unguarded has been canceled; it has also been reported Unguarded will air as primetime specials during the week).

CNN vs NABJ

The feud between CNN and the National Association of Black Journalists isn’t quite over. It escalated recently, when it was announced by the NABJ that CNN supposedly cut off funding to the group. Roland Martin, ex-contributor to CNN, threw in his take, too.

The Erik Wemple Blog has more:

Bob Butler, the president of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) is unhappy with CNN. Just last Friday, Butler and NABJ issued a press release indicating that CNN had “withdrawn support of NABJ for the 2015 Convention & Career Fair.” Founded in 1975, NABJ is the largest group of journalists of color in the U.S., and their annual convention serves to help black media professionals with professional development and networking opportunities.

CNN responded with a statement of its own: “Following NABJ’s recent comments about CNN, we informed them we were reconsidering our relationship, but we were clear that we had not made a final decision. It’s surprising to us that they would choose to make such a statement.”

So: Butler says that the network had definitively withdrawn support; CNN says not quite. “They’re basically calling me a liar,” said Butler in a chat with the Erik Wemple Blog. “That’s very disturbing.”

Greta blasts CNN

Greta Van Susteren of Fox News blasted CNN on her blog, GretaWire, about CNN’s layoffs.

This is pretty cold to call what happened to so many hard working people – who lost their jobs – “reshaping.” The truth: failed management. Those who got laid off were doing their jobs — you can’t say that for those who manage the place. If they did their jobs, there would not be so much heartache and worry for so many.

What is also cold is the way this is done. Management doesn’t manage effectively…leading to layoffs…or, code, ‘reshaping’ and then it doesn’t even have the guts to do it themselves. They have HR do it….and even worse, the reshapen employee is escorted out of the building. Go figure, right?

By the way, how does Jeff Zucker keep his job?

(H/t Johnny Dollar)

Arwa Damon to receive an award

CNN’s senior international correspondent Arwa Damon is set to receive the 2014 Courage in Journalism Award.

Read more:

Since 1990, the IWMF has paid tribute to over 100 women journalists who set themselves apart by their extraordinary bravery. Facing and surviving danger to uncover the truth, they raise the bar for reporting under duress. With the 2014 Courage in Journalism Awards, we honor CNN war correspondent Arwa Damon (USA), editor-in-chief of Le Souverain, Solange Lusiku Nsimire (Democratic Republic of the Congo), and TV Reporter Brankica Stanković (Serbia).
Alexandra Trower, Executive Vice President, Global Communications, at The Estée Lauder Companies has been named the 2014 IWMF Leadership Honoree, for demonstrating an outstanding commitment to responsible and innovative leadership.
The 2014 Award ceremonies will be held in New York on October 22, and in Los Angeles on October 28.

They also wrote a profile about Arwa, which is below.


She has traveled across the Arab world for more than a decade, reporting extensively on the ongoing conflicts in some of the most war-ravaged zones, and in 2012 covered the civil war in Syria.

Regardless of the constant shelling and sniper fire during her last trip to Homs, Arwa Damon’s persistence, strength, and focus on bringing forth what needs to be known in order to help document history, has her standing tall amidst the rubble.

Arwa Damon, 36, is CNN’s Emmy-award winning Senior International Correspondent, living and working out of Beirut and covering stories from some of the most precarious, yet captivating places on Earth that have few or no laws protecting press freedom and widespread intimidation of journalists.

Born in Boston, Massachusetts to an American father and a Syrian mother (Damon’s grandfather was former Syrian Prime Minister, Muhsin al-Barazi; and assassinated in a military coup in 1949), Damon would spend much of her childhood traveling and living abroad in places such as Turkey and Morocco. She would later travel back to the United States, where she graduated with honors from Skidmore College in New York with a double major in French and Biology, and a minor in international affairs. As a multi-lingual speaker (fluent in English, Arabic, Turkish and French), Damon would take up a variety of temp jobs, eventually working with a New York-based Turkish textile company. However, after the events of 9/11, everything changed in Damon’s world and she looked towards journalism as means of communication with the world.

“I was living in New York,” she says. “Afghanistan had happened, the United States was gearing up for war in Iraq; and being an Arab American, I grew up deeply entrenched in both cultures and felt an inexplicable sense to a certain degree — a desire, a need, to go out there and because of my own personal life experiences, [and] try to build cross-cultural bridges of understanding and compassion.”

Though she had no real journalism experience to her credit, Damon headed to Baghdad with an adamant goal in mind—to work for CNN. She would spend three years covering Iraq and the Middle East as a freelance producer for numerous news organizations like PBS, FOX News and CNN. Damon officially joined CNN in 2006, immediately reported on various stories like that of the U.S. Army’s battle in Najaf; the 2010 Iraqi Election and Iraq’s Constitutional Referendum vote; the trial and execution of President Saddam Hussein; and report on the Egyptian protests against President Mubarak.

“When it comes to the Middle East, the problems there are so multi-faceted and so difficult to understand that a lot of times there’s a sense that it’s too overwhelming to be able to cover — and it’s not, because every single issue that is transpiring can be simplified to the story of a single individual,” she says. “From a child who all of a sudden is looking up to the sky as jets are flying overhead and pointing to barrel bombs because it’s a sickening twisted game that they play, ‘Where’s the bomb going to land next?’; and the others that find themselves convulsing in fears that they don’t understand. We need to continue to strive to tell these different stories.”

However, the present environment isn’t always easy or encouraging for journalists. While she has worked nonstop in Middle Eastern countries where journalists have a price on their heads, Damon has come under fire multiple times by government forces, risking capture and arrest.

During the second week of 2007, Damon traveled to Baghdad where she was stuck in a 10-hour street fight and shot at by snipers while embedded with the U.S. military, covering the assault in Fallujah. Four years later, she would boldly cover the revolution and fall of President Mubarak, reporting from Tahrir Square in Egypt for days amidst protests and gunfire. It was known that Damon was at great risk while in the country, traveling to pro-Mubarak areas to interview those opposed to the regime. Colleagues at CNN noted that her reporting was repetitively “peppered with the constant sound of artillery and small arms fire.”

In July of 2011, Damon traveled to Bahrain, covering the anti-government protests. While interviewing the demonstrators, government troops opened fire on the crowds as she continued her reporting. Damon also helped find medics who were treating the wounded and interviewed families of those killed. That next month, she would travel to Libya where she was the only Western journalist to report live during the last counter-offensive in Tripoli during the Muammar al-Gaddafi regime. She was trapped there for days and slept in an airport that was repeatedly hit with shelling and gunfire.

With the Arab Spring taking shape in the Middle East in these last few years, Damon has continued to face physical dangers throughout her reporting, being subjected to first-hand threats and gunfire. In February of 2012, she covered the ongoing siege in Homs, Syria, and has admitted in past interviews that it was the most frightening war zone she ever stepped into. Upon her visit to Syria’s third-largest city, Damon was illegally smuggled into the country and constantly traveling to different safe houses as the area was full of snipers and undergoing enormous amounts of shelling. Holed up in a bunker in Baba Amr with late war reporter Marie Colvin (the IWMF’s first Courage in Journalism Award winner from the United Kingdom), Damon was pulled out of Homs the day before the media center they were in, was bombed. Returning to Libya in May of 2013 in an effort to unearth the truth behind who planned the Benghazi Embassy attack — a report for which Damon drew heavy criticism from the U.S. State Department on account of the fact that she was one of the first few journalists on the scene after the attacks took place, for discovering the journal of slain Ambassador, Chris Stevens, and stating that the attacks were not a spontaneous demonstration – contrary to what the State Department was stating at the time. In subsequent findings Damon was later exonerated.

CNN Chief International Correspondent and ember of the IWMF Board of Directors, Christiane Amanpour, told Net-A-Porter last year that Damon’s main and important contribution to the industry is that she is a real reporter, going on to say, “she goes out and tells stories. What she does is so rare these days when talking-heads and armchair warriors dominate. She believes in being there.”

It is evident that Damon truly believes in the power of her position. Regardless of the all the violence and threats she faces during the events, she consistently manages to put together an impartial series of masterpiece reports covering the realism of war; exploring neighborhoods where residents hide their children, to makeshift clinics set up to treat the wounded. Damon risks her own life to stay in the cross-fire in order to show audiences at home the true story from the victim’s eyes.

“I think I ended up being the accidental war correspondent,” she says. “I didn’t set out to have that be a focal point of my career. I most certainly am not an adrenaline junkie, but what really keeps me going out there every single day is those human stories.”

Damon’s segment from 2007 of 5 year-old Youssif who was severely burned in an attack, became an enormously admired and appreciated story from viewers. Impressed with her dedication and courage to show the other side of war, CNN allowed Damon to find the boy medical care in the States and follow his story for four years.

Showcasing such a strong level of engagement between Damon, her subject and the audience was a first for the network, catapulting her to acclamation both inside and outside CNN.

Damon is currently one of the network’s Iraq specialists and continues to report from Baghdad on assignments throughout the year. With her stories, she has been able to shine a light on those who suffer brutality and violence in silence, particularly women. She is one of the few reporters who were granted rare permission to visit the Khamiya women’s prison, focusing on how the Iraqi government keeps women and their children locked up. Later in 2011 she gained access to women that were forced to become “Al-Qaeda” wives. In circumstances no less dangerous than a combat zone, Damon has also had the chance to report from Pakistan and Afghanistan regarding infants who are fed opium, and examine the way victims of rape and abuse are treated.

“On one level, the challenges that we [women] face as opposed to our male counterparts are very practical. [But] on another level, there is perhaps something of an added risk especially in certain environments, like Egypt where there have been numerous, horrifying cases of women, not just female journalists, but women being raped by the masses,” Damon says. “At the same time, being a female out in the field does bring with it certain advantages, especially as a Western journalist. We tend to exist in this gray space so I can access the men, I can sit with them, have tea with them, speak with them and they will to the most part treat me as something of an equal or at least as an unknown. And then I can turn around and spend time with the women that my male colleagues can’t, and they open up to me even more, and I think there’s a tendency, just generally speaking amongst people to feel more comfortable opening up to a woman, so I would actually view being a woman out there as being an advantage.”

In an interview with Politico earlier this year, Damon said in order to be a foreign correspondent amidst the danger, you have to have an understanding of who you are because it is eminent and at one point, you will sacrifice yourself.

“Of course people are impacted by the violence,” she tells the IWMF. “Of course I’m impacted by the violence, and you do lose a part of yourself when you’re out there that you won’t ever get back. But when you’re faced with the losses that the people whose stories you’re covering—what they’ve gone through—it makes that part of yourself that you have to give up to tell their stories, absolutely worth it.”

Damon doesn’t believe there is necessarily any one story worth dying for, but affirms that the stories are worth the threats. “If we look back at the body of work that exists because people are willing to keep going out to these front lines and taking the risk to tell those stories — if we look at how in the past those risks have helped individuals or demanded accountability, if we look at what has been created because of the existence of war zone correspondents, then that body of work and the changes that we have managed to bring about are worth dying for,” she says. “And fighting for the integrity of the profession and fighting for the populations that are vulnerable and innocent, that is worth the risk as well.”

Arwa Damon’s quest and dedication to finding meaningful stories through the thick and thin of war eclipses the risks and threats that come with the responsibility of reporting objectively and factually. With her incredible sense of compassion, sincerity, purpose and understanding of self, and others, Damon courageously faces challenges head-on as a female war correspondent dodging bullets that do not discriminate between gender and life, which is ever so precarious out on the frontlines. All that matters is the story. Truly this dedicated journalist lives in constant motion bringing news.


It’s safe to say: Arwa’s alleged biting of those two EMTs may have smudged her image, but her fabulous reporting is still evident and noteworthy. Arwa is easily CNN’s best war-zone correspondent.