Former Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki joins CNN

Former State Department spokeswoman and former Obama White House communication director Jen Psaki has joined CNN as a contributor, effective today.

She is slated to make her debut on Anderson Cooper 360 tonight ahead of the Bernie Sanders-Ted Cruz Obamacare debate, hosted by CNN anchors Jake Tapper and Dana Bash.

She will also appear on Don Lemon’s CNN Tonight at 10pm.


President Obama dines with CNN’s Anthony Bourdain

President Barack Obama will appear on an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown in September, where the two dined together in Vietnam, reports CNN.

After finishing up at Hanoi restaurant Bún chả Hương Liên, Bourdain tweeted that he had picked up the $6 tab on a shared “bun Cha dinner.”


David Axelrod joined CNN because he didn’t want to just be “surrogate for Democratic party”

David Axelrod, who was a political analyst for both NBC News and MSNBC until he recently made the jump to CNN, spoke to the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple about his scenery change.

Axelrod, who played an integral part in both of President Barack Obama’s campaigns, wanted to join CNN because had made a large investment in covering the coming campaigns, he told Wemple.

“CNN has really made a huge investment in covering this campaign and, you know, I think I’m a reflection of that,” said Axelrod. “They wanted my expertise and wanted to offer my expertise,” noting his time as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune.

He also added, “I think that I did not want to be simply a surrogate for the Democratic Party.”


Former CNN anchor Zain Verjee: “CNN USA is a…different beast to CNN International”

Ahead of President Barack Obama’s trip to Kenya, CNN had a story about Obama traveling to a “hotbed” of terror.

And as Mediaite has chronicled, many Kenyans are none too happy with CNN’s characterization of their country. A hashtag has started, #SomeoneTellCNN.

Former CNN International anchor Zain Verjee offered up some of her own thoughts (via TVN):

Africa is still perceived by the majority of US writers and producers as a dangerous place, that it’s all pretty much the same. The images of violence and attacks don’t help the standard narrative. We (Africans) need to change this perception so words like “hotbed” are not the immediate Kenyan association in newsrooms.

CNN USA is a very different beast to CNN international. It’s like two separate worlds really. CNN USA is driven by much more by short-term gain, higher drama with a daily pressure of ratings and the need to win the minute. CNN international is more nuanced, not driven by the business of daily ratings. There is there’s a much more sophisticated internal approach to Africa programming and reporting.

To Western media covering Kenya: Please. Kenya is not a hotbed of terror. We are not Iraq. Afghanistan or Libya. We have some major security problems. Very serious. Yes. I am not sidestepping that. I have covered many attacks myself. The security issue should be covered, criticized, and the security apparatus’ effectiveness questioned. Terrorism has been awful for Kenya, and for our tourist industry. But during the Obama trip, also leave a few minutes or 30 seconds before a break or a kicker to show some cool Kenyans doing cool stuff, spotlight the innovation, the humor, the technology, the style, creativity and the vibrant political debate. Lots of awesome stuff is going on. It’s not a whitewash. It’s the real other side of the story that does not get told in a 90 second piece or three minute live interview.

She then turned to offer up a defense for CNN:

The entire CNN network should not be slammed for a ‘font’ that popped up on one package: “hotbed.” That font was generated by a single writer, or producer, who didn’t know better, or should have known better. I’ve worked at CNN most of my life. There are anchors, producers, writers, reporters and managers that are excellent journalists, that I respect greatly, who have visited Kenya, like Kenya and get the nuances, and gave me personally, a lot of freedom to tell great Kenya stories over 14 years.

So Kenyans have given CNN a hard slap on social media. We have flexed our hot twitter muscle and voiced our displeasure. Let’s put it to bed. Let’s focus on the big visit and getting what we need like: easier visas, (even my parents don’t want to visit me because they don’t want to deal with visa applications), scholarships for Kenyans, and direct flights from the US to Nairobi… and whatever else we want.


Brooke Baldwin interviews President Obama’s sister and grandmother in Kenya

We now know what assignment Brooke Baldwin was on last week: she was scoring an interview with President Barack Obama’s family in their ancestral village in Kenya — just days before Obama visits Nairobi.

She interviewed Obama’s grandmother and Obama’s sister. She teased part of the interview this morning on New Day, and a full piece will air beginning at 2pm on her show, CNN Newsroom.


Jake Tapper issues on-air apology

CNN’s The Lead anchor Jake Tapper issued an apology today on his program, following a remark he made earlier in the day when he was anchoring special CNN coverage.

Speaking of the White House’s apology for killing the American hostages, Tapper said, “President Obama wanted to bring this information to the American people, but it’s also, it seems fair to say, that his hand was forced to some degree by The Wall Street Journal, which was reporting this information this morning as well.”

“The questions are there, obviously: Why now?” said CNN White House correspondent Michelle Kosinski. “These two operations happened back in January. No word of that until now, until we knew that some of this was coming out in the press.”

But Politico’s media reporter Dylan Byers reports that isn’t the case at all:

In fact, Entous and the Journal did not force the White House’s hand, the On Media blog has learned. Senior U.S. officials approached Entous about the drone strike on Wednesday but asked him to hold it overnight so that they could inform the victims’ families. In other words, the White House was planning to make the disclosure and decided to give Entous a heads-up, with the request that he agree to an embargo.

“The Administration approached Entous with some details last night (some details in his story he came to his own conclusions about after he spoke with us, and we did not confirm those details for him) and asked him if he wanted to break the story, so there would be a story out when we made the announcement,” one of the sources familiar with the exchanges said. “That’s why the story popped at the exact same time as the WH statement. Adam Entous was as surprised last night as you all were this morning.”

Tapper’s correction is below:


Gupta interviews President Obama

Earlier today on New Day, CNN’s chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta sat down with President Barack Obama to discuss issues from climate change to public health.

Towards the end of the interview, Obama said, “When the Clean Air Act was passed, not only was there a terrible smog in Los Angeles, it was true in most metropolitan areas across the country. The fact is that air quality has dramatically improved and it’s been much cheaper than anybody expected, because technology advanced and people figured out how to do it. As a consequence, the American people are a lot healthier, in addition to being able to, you know, see the mountains in the background because it’s not covered in smog.”

Watch:

In 2009, it was reported Gupta was in the running to be the US’ surgeon general. He eventually withdrew his name from consideration.

In a prepared statement, Jon Klein, president of CNN at the time, said, “[Sanjay made the decision to not take the job] in order to continue devoting time to his medical career and of course his work at CNN.”