Thank you, Kathy Griffin, for proving what I’ve written for years: when it comes to political news, cable TV is about as informative as Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway.
The masses could accept your apology — or not — regarding your recent photo shoot posing with a fake decapitated head of President Trump. It’s bad enough that CNN today announced that it has fired Griffin as co-host of its annual New Year’s Eve program over the controversial images — an event which Griffin has co-hosted alongside Anderson Cooper for a decade — following in the steps of toilet accessory Squatty Potty, which similarly decided to suspend its ad campaign with Ms. Griffin in response to the outcry.
If it means anything to you Ms. Griffin, I accept the apology, even though I wasn’t upset about the photos. Perhaps that’s because I believe in the right of free expression as granted by the Constitution.
Maybe because it’s in my journalistic genes — I was a reporter and editor and also wrote one-liners for clients prior to entering the controlled-messages world of public relations — but I’m a firm believer against censorship, as long as it’s not defamatory or inflames mobs, as the President’s remarks at his rallies have done. Where was the public outcry against Trump's tasteless remarks that caused NBC’s Katy Tur to require Secret Service to escort her to safety after she was personally, verbally attacked by Trump at a rally?
But what inspired me to write this on-line thank you to you, Ms. Griffin, was the way cable TV covered your severed head President photo. Instead of it being a short, one-cycle segment story — considering all the really important news of the past 48 hours — the cable shows covered it for more than a day, as of this writing, proving that cable news’ political coverage is lame and largely nonexistent compared to major print pubs. It’s geared for people who want to listen to “pundit journalism” instead of being interested in detailed news coverage or original journalism. Or maybe for people who have short attention spans, like our President?
Recently, I’ve said that cable TV news is “parasitic journalism” because it depends on print pubs for their news, instead of uncovering original information. The lack of original and serious journalism was again evident by the way you were portrayed on cable TV. A visitor from Mars, who had the misfortunate and mistake of watching cable TV political coverage for detailed news, instead of reading the New York Times, Washington Post or other major print pubs, would think that you were the antichrist instead of a comedienne.
Many people think that your photo was not funny and in poor taste. But it certainly wasn’t a danger to a democratic United States, where people shouldn’t be afraid to freely express their opinions for or against a President who seeks to control the media and is a danger to the United States democracy by disregarding the Bill of Rights.
The danger to our democracy is a lying President and White House communication’s staff, aided by the alt-right media and, sadly, by the mainstream cable TV political shows that rely on news from the White House propaganda machine, appearances on TV by their spokespersons and the President’s tweets to sustain their 24/7coverage, when they have finished for the time being their parasitic lifting of news from print pubs.
As I was writing this article, CNN announced that it had terminated its relationship with Griffin to appear on its New Year’s Eve show. Griffith’s photo of a severed Trump head was the cause of her losing the TV gig, as well as the Squatty Potty sponsorship; perhaps the punishment was justified. But where was the backlash by CNN and others, who demanded Griffin’s head, when the President called Mexicans criminals and rapists? Or when the tape of his vulgar “locker room” talk became public? I don’t recall the CNN management editorializing that Trump should no longer be considered for the Presidency.
At least major print pubs don’t pull punches in their editorials. CNN, which covered every Trump rally like it was a command from the Gods — despite the president’s crude rhetoric — has again shown why it should not be taken as a leading news organization. Leading news organizations do not back down from controversy. They apologize and accept apologies and suspend personal, but do not fire staff for one demonstration of bad taste.
What CNN has done is lessen the right of free journalistic expression. And that’s certainly not a plus for our democracy.
Arthur Solomon was a senior VP at Burson-Marsteller. He now is a contributor to public relations and sports business publications, consults on PR projects and was on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.