CNN’s Cruise Control

CNN Cruise Disaster

Huff Post: It was not hard news, and it was not the most “important” story that CNN could have been covering. Jon Stewart will probably have a field day.

He did, criticizing CNN’s “wall to shit-covered wall coverage” of the “Ship Of Stools.”


CNN’s ship to whore.

CNN press release: The squalid, smelly, steamy cruise ship, which has been without power for days with 4,000 people aboard, is expected to finally limp into port later today. CNN’s Erin Burnett will anchor Erin Burnett OutFront from Mobile, Alabama, where the ship will dock. Sandra Endo cover the ship’s arrival by helicopter; Victor Blackwell monitors by boat; and David Mattingly and Martin Savidge report from the dock in Mobile. and the CNN apps will live stream the docking. CNN International will simulcast the arrival later tonight.

NYT’s media czar Brian Stelter: The coverage had all the hallmarks of Jeff Zucker, the former “Today” show producer and NBC chief executive who took over CNN Worldwide last month. Mr. Zucker has been trying to take advantage of CNN’s news resources as he attempts to revitalize the low-rated channel. The cruise ship story was a no-brainer to him: from a producer’s standpoint, it has high stakes, human drama and a logical beginning, middle and end. The ship is expected to finally reach port Thursday night.

Television news producers are prone to hyping and over-covering stories, of course. That much isn’t new. But what CNN did with the cruise ship stood out because Fox and MSNBC mostly stuck with their usual stories about politics, business, crime and culture. MSNBC barely even mentioned the cruise ship in its newscasts on Thursday.

Partly that’s because the stranded ship hasn’t been a particularly visual story — but CNN changed that by chartering a helicopter and a boat for the day. Around noon, the channel caught the attention of media reporters and a few television competitors when it carried aerial pictures of the cruise ship accompanied by the words “CNN Live Exclusive.” The anchor Ashleigh Banfield announced that viewers were seeing “the first image of this ship as it approaches shore,” meaning the first live pictures — photographs had been available for days.

CNN also set up a camera with a long zoom lens on land so it could show the cruise ship 30 miles out at sea.

All the camera angles and interviews made the coverage more captivating and, some would say, entertaining, turning the news into something that looked and felt a bit like a reality show.

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough sarcastically sinks CNN for abandoning other news: “Because of the problems with this cruise line, all other news in the world stops like if you looked at CNN yesterday afternoon, the killing in Syria comes to an end … the national debt clock stopped … we don’t have to worry anymore because CNN tells us that this cruise ship was the only story that mattered yesterday for 24 hours.”

Friday, February 15, 2013 @ 7:58 AM

  • 4lsanday

    Interesting listening to the divergent comment from some of the 4,000+ passengers. Let’s just say it was like life and your position in the pecking order. Those with inside cabins on the lower decks suffered. Those with outside cabins on the upper decks not so bad. Proved the old adage, Shit flows down hill..

    • Marty Davis

      It hurts to laugh but your comment is hilarious!  

  • Jaccharlot

    Zucker took the initiative,  that’s the best move CNN has made in years.

    Stelter makes a good point, because of scale, CNN can control a story.

    These guys aren’t dead yet!!

    • Marty Davis

       Zucker may get the last laugh!

    • Jaccharlot

      Yes he may, Gretta barely touched ground in Cali before they had her fly to the Gulf.

      I made a flight just like hers once too, from and to the same airports, I bet.
      Whole lot of fun, especially Houston.

      Zuck may have indeed shown a chink in FOX armor.

  • Jaccharlot

     “Even so, it’s not as if CNN was always spending its pre-Zucker days moderating in-depth discussions about education policy and economic trends in South America.”
    This guy clearly never watched CNN.

  • Grandpa D

    CNN’s coverage had me hooked.  Well, on the web.  I watched, when I had time, their video feed from the helicopter way out in the gulf and the long lensed camera on Dauphin Island to the final docking at the Alabama Cruise Terminal. And at the same time followed the course on .  Fascinating.

    • Marty Davis

      Reminds me of CNN’s Balloon Boy obsession.

  • Mbuckley

    They paid so much dam attention to it I thought it was the POW’s returning from Vietnam–way too much time on a not very interesting story.

    • Marty Davis

      Zucker’s got a new format for CNN.  The National Enquirer.  

  • Jimbotalk

    I’m cleaning out my garage this weekend.
    Oh, the tragedy of dumping stuff I hate to give up!
    The angst of neighbors watching the shit pile up at the curb!
    Jeff, I’m available to coordinate aerial coverage of the garbage truck arrival.

    • Marty Davis

      Apparently Jeff’s National Enquirer turn got huge ratings.  Expect more, Jim!

    • Jimbotalk

      News meets reality tv. 
      Lord help us.

  • RightWingWhacko

    I was hoping Wolf Blitzer would use the countdown clock to docking time.

    • Marty Davis

       Maybe Zucker nixed it!  Would’ve been great, RWW!

  • Gs Ba33

    an aimlessly floating vessel loaded with crap……sounds just like CNN to me.

    • Marty Davis

       Very funny!  :)

  • Sentinel

    I thought their non-stop coverage of the SS Shitstain was quite poignant and right in their wheelhouse (maritime term).