CNN’s Nancy Grace and Ashleigh Banfield Hold Split-Screen Interview in Same Parking Lot
Check out the “same bus in both shots.”
More: The Atlantic Wire
CNN’s problems, in animated GIF form.
OH MY GOD WHAT A HORRENDOUS OCCURRENCE! Seriously? People are complaining about their live shots? Well, considering Nancy Grace had to make multiple appearances on multiple networks right after one another, this actually makes sense. Ashleigh can host her show from one place while Nancy does all her appearances without making either crew scramble and run around town.
I get that picking on CNN is in fashion with the Internet blogs right now, but I guess I’d like to see more substantive critiques rather than “Hey they’re both in the same place! What’s up with that?!” Maybe there’s a reason why they’re doing it like this? Maybe give them the benefit of the doubt that they know what they’re doing? Sounds crazy, I know. Just my 2 cents.
Sure, let’s try a substantive critique. The woman on the left is talking to Nancy Grace, a major CNN Networks personality who once berated a woman on television just a few days before that woman committed suicide, then was forced to settle for $200,000 in a wrongful death suit. When asked if she felt sorry for what happened, she said of Melinda Duckett in the immediate wake of the news, “If anything, I would suggest that guilt made her commit suicide.” Despite this, Nancy Grace is still on the air seven years later, talking in the same parking lot as Ashleigh Banfield. If you had a job where you did that and had to settle over it, would you still be working there? Probably not. But Nancy Grace is still at HLN.
The problem with CNN is that they have lowered their standards significantly, thinking that a broad but unbiased approach will bring the ratings. (It hasn’t.) Moments like Howard Kurtz’s 15-minute mea culpa are so rare on the network these days that you have to cherish them as signs that a network that’s lost its way might find it again. It’s like they realized recently, hey, Twitter is faster than we are, and so maybe this breaking news thing isn’t quite as fun anymore. Let’s do another “lighter side of life” segment.
They don’t have a rudder anymore. For the first twenty years of their existence, they had a pretty good one: Covering news, being the first news outlet to report on a story, keeping the level of the conversation high. But sometime between 9/11 and now, something changed. They got sloppy. They blew two major stories within a year—first healthcare, then the Boston marathon suspect. For some reason, Fox News scared them a lot. And instead of deciding their mission was hard-hitting journalism, they decided they were more comfortable with “background visuals for airport terminals.” Their rudder could be BBC, American version. But instead it’s, The Weather Channel, but for news.
You may think that this is a stupid thing to make fun of, funny ha ha, oh they’re on split screens like this. But really, the reason this is coming up is because CNN has become so much about the spectacle—holograms, giant touch screens, never-ending cruise line sagas—that you can’t take them seriously, and moments like this bus moving by two anchors at the same time overshadow the news actually happening.
I snarked that this was “CNN’s problems, in animated GIF form,” and I stand by it. They were already seen as lightweight, but then they hired the fluffmeister himself. They’re so concerned with looking like a serious news outlet that they’d rather look the part by having split screens than actually focus on the kind of in-depth stuff that Al Jazeera English actually does. Do you think AJE’s producers are like “we must get our reporter on a split screen to make it look like we’re on the scene”? No. They’re at the big kids’ table, reporting the news.
That’s why this GIF represents CNN’s problems. Because while they were busy putting Nancy Grace on a split screen, they could have gotten someone other than Nancy Grace to talk about this story.