CNN Using Missing Plane for Ratings Grab


Magician David Copperfield makes something disappear and the audience is stuck wondering what happened to it?

Let's hope that CNN boss Jeff Zucker never attends a Copperfield magic show, it might dominate CNN's coverage for weeks.

"I'm Wolf Biltzer tonight in the Situation Room, we discuss where the bunny went in David Copperfield's latest show on the Las Vegas strip."

The Daily Beast writes that with scant hard information on the missing Malaysia flit, the prevailing storyline has evolved, in pop-culture terms, from Agatha Christie to Tom Clancy to Oprah, with Wednesday’s most indelible image--aired several times each hour on CNN--being that of the Chinese mother of a missing passenger wailing in grief and anger as Malaysian security officers dragged her forcibly out of a Flight 370 press briefing. Increasingly the focus has been: How does it feel?

Lloyd Grove of The Daily Beast writes "Is it really news coverage, when there is no news to report?" an anonymous CNN staffer asked in an email to FTVLive, a television business insiders’ blog. The email seemed representative of the handwringing said to be occurring in various cable newsrooms among journalism traditionalists. FTVLive’s proprietor, TV news veteran Scott Jones, noted that while the NBC Nightly News on Tuesday took two minutes to give “all the new information” on the story, CNN “took all day to give you the same information… CNN's coverage is mainly just a group of talking heads guessing what might have happened to the missing jet."

CNN's former Washington bureau chief, Frank Sesno, echoed those concerns, especially when a more consequential story, the Russian takeover of Crimea in the Ukraine, is getting comparatively short shrift on CNN’s air. “When I’ve watched CNN on my television, I thought they were doing it [the missing plane] way too much, especially given this other gigantic story that’s unfolding in Crimea,” Sesno, director of George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs, told The Daily Beast.

Sesno added that while Flight 370 is “a fascinating, huge mystery, the Russian takeover of Crimea is potentially world-changing…My issue is what is the proportionate amount of coverage that the [missing plane] story should receive?” Absent new facts, “there are four pieces to this puzzle: what you say, how you say it, how often you say it, and how loud you say it."