First impressions matter, and this is the first impression CNN chief Jeff Zucker has chosen to make after taking over the incredible-disappearing-cable-news-network — a full page ad in The New York Times (pictured above).
While it is notable that Candy Crowley and John King didn’t make the cut, what is even more notable is how little the network has changed.
Jake Tapper and Chris Cuomo are great additions. But what Zucker doesn’t seem to get is that he has a brand problem on his hands. No one trusts the “most trusted name in news” anymore, and hanging on to brand damagers like Piers Morgan, Christiane Amanpour, and Wolf Blitzer is like Tylenol only taking some of the poisoned medicine bottles off the shelf.
Zucker’s choice of The New York Times is also revealing, because it shows who Zucker wants to impress: not the public, but his foo foo media pals.
If Zucker wants to win something other than the approval of provincial Manhattan types, he should run ads in local papers reassuring potential viewers that the network is ready to earn back their trust. Photos of Soledad O’Brien, Jack Cafferty, and Roland Martin with big red X’s over their faces would be a good start. But then the network would have to follow through with its programming.
This would mean stepping off the Narrative Plantation and covering the kinds of stories the Manhattan foo foo crowd might disagree with. Tapper’s “The Lead” does this, but a single hour out of 24 is not a game changer — especially when Piers Morgan is the face of the network.
The impression Zucker makes is that he doesn’t want to win; ratings a little less embarrassing will be good enough.
As I was writing that last sentence, CNN’s Carol Costello announced that the network will devote tomorrow to special reports — not on the increase in poverty, the Benghazi survivors, the job crisis, the abortion doctor — but guns.
Actually, the impression Zucker makes is that he can out-MSNBC MSNBC.
Good luck with that.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC