CNN's Top-Five Credibility Catastrophes of 2013

This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the former Most Trusted Name In News. The belief was that CNN's ratings couldn't sink much lower than its 2012 lows and that newly-installed president Jeff Zucker couldn't possibly make things worse.

Wrong.

After months of retooling, CNN is still in last place and its primetime viewership has improbably sunk even further.

So what went wrong? How did Zucker and CNN bungle things so badly that after hitting what everyone was sure was bottom in 2012, a new bottom was found in 2013?

Well, in reality, ratings are the least of the network's problems. Thanks to one breathtaking debacle after another, CNN now has a credibility problem from which it is unlikely to ever recover. And here are the top five reasons why….

1. Exploiting Tragedy After Tragedy to Push an Anti-Gun Agenda

Piers Morgan is a unmitigated disaster for CNN; a shrill, low-rated, not-too-bright, carnival-barking leftist and symbol of everything wrong with the network. But when it came to exploiting the murders of schoolchildren to push an anti-gun agenda, CNN didn't compartmentalize this to its left-wing limey.

In the wake of the horrific mass-shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, there was almost no difference between the gun control push on CNN and MSNBC -- except of course for the fact that MSNBC is honest about its agenda. In the days leading up to a largely symbolic Senate vote on tightening background checks (that failed), CNN was caught red-handed sucking up to its elite media colleagues with a promise to devote a full day of coverage to pressure Congress into restricting our Second Amendment civil rights.

This happened in early April, just a couple of months after Zucker took over. And any of us who hoped Zucker might work to correct CNN's bias problems would never make that mistake again.

2. The Great Trayvon Martin Race Hoax

It is a little unfair that only NBC is remembered for fabricating evidence to make George Zimmerman (who was acquitted in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin) look racist. Arguably, what CNN did was just as bad or worse. In April of 2012, The Most Trusted Name In News told its audience that Zimmerman had referred to Martin as a "f*cking coon" during a 911 call on the night of the shooting. Other than wishful thinking, CNN had no evidence of this and once the evidence did come in (Zimmerman said nothing of the sort), the network was forced to walk it back.

CNN's determination to push its left-wing race hoax, however, never waned, and charged right into 2013.

With as much zeal as the openly left-wing MSNBC, CNN used the Zimmerman trial to pretend the tragic shooting said something bigger about American race relations. To push a completely fabricated black vs. white racial narrative, CNN referred to the Hispanic Zimmerman as a "white Hispanic" and on a daily basis lied through omission by downplaying or outright ignoring Zimmerman's color blind past and his being cleared of any kind of a racial motive by a Justice Department investigation.

To make matters worse, CNN broadcast Zimmerman's personal information (including his Social Security number), and had a grotesque, full-blown on-air orgasm every time their fellow race-hoaxer Barack Obama exploited the case for his own cynical racial ends.

Nothing, however, will ever top a CNN anchor breaking down into tears live on the air.

Once Zimmerman was acquitted, the network went on to make an even bigger fool of itself. It covered the post-verdict protests as though they weren't total flops, dabbled in the desperate "white privilege" after-narrative, and then tried to make the Zimmerman case about Florida's Stand Your Ground law, even though Stand Your Ground had as much to do with the Zimmerman case as objectivity and competence does with CNN.

With the Zimmerman case, CNN fell on its face in 2012 and then used 2013 to try and dig itself out by chewing on the dirt.

It was kind of glorious.

3. The Boston Bombing Debacle - For a very short time, it looked as though CNN had a chance of moving into second place ahead of MSNBC, especially during the kind of big news events where CNN once excelled.

That all changed during the coverage of the Boston Marathon terror attack when we all watched in real-time as CNN melted down before our very eyes.

CNN wasn't the only network to spread misinformation in the hours and days after the terror bombing, but no one did it quite as spectacularly as this.

While number one and two on this list did little to hurt CNN with a mainstream media that shares its left-wing politics, this surreal meltdown did, and rightly so.

4. 'New Day': The Sure-Thing That Wasn't  - Jeff Zucker made his name ushering in the era of "The Today Show's" ratings dominance. Therefore, if there was anything he should have known how to do it was create a successful morning show.

"New Day" is by far the most high-profile investment Zucker has yet to make in his programming changes, and it is an absolute train wreck. After five-months on the air, "New Day" is hitting new lows -- lows even lower than last year's lowly lows.

Thus far, in his very own wheelhouse, the new CNN chief is inspiring only despair.

5. Zucker Junior-Gate - Because CNN is still only one of three cable networks, and almost everyone in online and print media wants to be on TV, this scandal involving Jeff Zucker's 14 year-old son did not get a hundredth of the media attention it would have if it were Roger Ailes' son.

Regardless, New Media still managed to spread the word and the mainstream media knows -- they know that Zucker's 14-year-old son was put on the board of a rising Democrat star's shady Internet start-up company.  

By virtue of his politics and the clubby narcissism of the left-wing mainstream media, Zucker dodged having to deal with what might have been the biggest media scandal of 2013.

But that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

--

Recently, Zucker and CNN announced that they have pretty much thrown in the towel on being a news channel. Whether aping the Discovery Channel  will work for CNN or not, time will tell. But you cannot be a successful news network with zero credibility, so CNN really has no other choice than to try and remake itself.  

 

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC               

 


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