Hey, CNN, When Are You Going to Resume News Coverage? Please Answer in the Form of a Numbered List

It’s a tough week to be CNN. A year into Jeff Zucker’s stewardship, CNN founders, suffering 20-year ratings lows this week. It has less identity as a network than ever. Zucker promises to maintain a focus on hard news while expanding scripted, documentary and reality programming. You know, keep throwing stuff at the wall until something sticks.

Some of that programming works and gets ratings, most notably Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown,” which collected two Emmys last fall. And I say they were well deserved; the episode that explored Libya provided a more fascinating and truly human understanding of the post-Gadhafi life and culture than any news network could capture these days.

CNN also created buzz and big ratings with Blackfish, a compelling look at the deadly history of captive whales and their trainers at Sea World and other water parks.

But A&E, Discovery Channel, The History Channel and the Food Network have covered this territory for years. Can CNN really reestablish a distinctive brand as another network among the herd of documentary and reality programming?

Because the news part of CNN is bleak. We have already lamented CNN.com’s embarrassing, breathless click baiting when young celebrities misbehave. (And I’ll link again to The Onion’s hilarious evisceration of CNN.com for it here. As well as the pathetic defense by Variety‘s Andrew Wallenstein here.)

This week, CNN doubled down. I’m sure news editors are clearing Peabody shelf space for tonight’s hastily produced 30-minute shit chunk “Justin Bieber’s Wild Ride.”  Proud times, CNN.

In other news, news

This is CNN

While CNN pursues its desperate ratings heartthrob crush, it also announces the plank walk for 40 long-time actual journalism types across its networks. A CNN spokesperson reassures us that it is “expanding the definition of news” and will ultimately add 100 people this year.

I take this all personally because I’m an Atlanta native. I’m proud of crazy Ted Turner’s vision and tenacity in making CNN a reality and elevating Atlanta’s international status. I’m sure Ted is spinning in his practice grave, fashioned out of bison skins and old programs from Braves games.(Also, in a pointlessly snotty aside, Wolf Blitzer’s botox injections are starting to resemble breast implants.)

I had a lot more complaints about CNN, but as I wrote they all just seemed like ideological attacks, which they’re not. I just miss the news. And to make sure this doesn’t seem like a pathological personal hatred for CNN, here’s the proudest moment in Bieber journalism, when Andrea Mitchell (!) interrupts a congresswoman mid-sentence in a serious discussion about the scope and boundaries of NSA surveillance.

Toyota a Surprising Winner in Justin Bieber DUI. Also, CNN Still Sucks.

Fortuitous ad timing and placement for Toyota on CNN.com.

Canada's Worst Import

2016′s Top Commentator on World’s Dumbest

Bieber actually makes me nostalgic for the days when Canada sent us Anne Murray.

Also, isn’t one of the N’s in CNN supposed to stand for “News”?

Getting Roger Ailes’ Good Side Probably is a Tough Photo Assignment

CNN continues to annoy with its growing adoption of BuzzFeed-style numbered list click baiting, here with the “Top 5 Things” learned from a new unauthorized biography of polarizing Fox News chief Roger Ailes. CNN chose this amusingly unflattering closeup of Ailes, in which he looks like Glenn Beck inflated into a parade float.

roger ailesI hope for author Gabriel Sherman’s sake that the rest of the book delivers more than CNN culls here. This top 5 list informs us that Ailes is an extremely influential Republican who runs a transparently biased news channel. Start the presses!

Here’s a much more interesting perspective on Ailes from The Hollywood Reporter. Love or hate him, he’s an interesting interview. Here’s Ailes on Rachel Maddow:

“I think Rachel Maddow has been a surprise to a lot of people. She wouldn’t really work at this network because she wouldn’t even come in the door, but on a personal level, I like her. I don’t want to hurt her career, so I won’t say we get along, but I’ve had dialogue with her, and she’s very smart. She has adapted well to the television medium.”

This is CNN (Warning: The post contains distasteful Miley Cyrus content)

I want to like CNN. As an Atlanta native it wounds me personally to see crazy Ted Turner’s once proud news empire rudderless and foundering. Recent high-profile reporting blunders and questionable editorial calls haven’t helped matters. But I at least like some of what they’ve tried since Jeff Zucker showed up to run things. Anthony Bourdain’s hyper-promoted show is as interesting an hour as any of the news channels broadcasts (although it’s still not exactly news). His visit to Libya was flat-out fascinating.

But, you know, this:

This Is CNN

Surely there are some actual news-minded editors at CNN who are ready to just give up. How thoroughly embarrassing that Miley Cyrus’s skank dance at the VMA’s is the breathless top news item on CNN.com. Right down to the triple-question-marked tabloid “She did what???” headline. You’re making it hard to root for you, CNN.

UPDATE: By the way, I was kidding about the “distasteful Miley Cyrus content.” I consider any Miley Cyrus content to be distasteful. We haven’t gone prude here at containseggs.

UPDATE NO. 2: Wow, The Onion rips CNN.com to shreds for this in a hilarious phony editorial. Outstanding.

ATHF’s Frylock Reports on Polygamy for CNN

Looks like when Aqua Teen Hunger Force (now Aqua Unit Patrol Squad) is not filming, Frylock moonlights as KTVK investigative reporter Mike Watkiss. Today he weighed in on polygamy rights on John King’s usually tranquilizing CNN show.

Meatwad unavailable for comment

UPDATE: We were able to capture this mid-mutation frame from CNN’s broadcast: