The Black Art

MSNBC’s doldrums are CNN’s opportunity. Jeff Zucker knows not to let a temporary advantage go to waste, so he rushed into print a full-page ad modestly trumpeting New Day‘s numerical victory over the sinking Morning Joe. And Joe Concha, one of our keenest observers of The Cable Game, noticed. Among several salient points, this one caught my eye:

Imagine this scenario: The Seattle Seahawks repeat as Super Bowl Champs in defeating the New England Patriots 45-21. But the very next day, the Pats decide to open up a full-page ad that is also tweeted out by its media/PR team as hot news which mocks the Indianapolis Colts for beating them in the Super Bowl semifinal known as the AFC Championship Game. Headline: “SORRY COLTS. YOU’RE ‘LUCK’ HAS RUN OUT. WE’RE #2! WE’RE #2! PATRIOTS BEAT ANDREW LUCK AND INDY FOR 4TH CONSECUTIVE TIME.” Well, that’s what CNN decided to do in today’s New York Times.

A good writer uses words carefully, and Joe Concha is a good writer. So the reference to tweets from the “media/PR team” isn’t there by accident. It hit home because The Cable Game has just joined twitter, and the first thing I did was pick people to follow. One of them was Brian Stelter, CNN’s media analyst, who it turns out tweeted CNN’s full-page ad to his followers this morning. Just by coincidence, that tweet was one of my first RT’s (a retweet of his tweet to my zero, so far, followers). So when Joe Concha talked about tweeting a full-page ad, I thought of Brian Stelter.

All of this ties in with my earlier thoughts about Brian and his unclear role at CNN, not to mention issues about what Reliable Sources has been reluctant to cover under his stewardship. That said, should CNN’s “media reporter” really be using twitter to promote his bosses’ dubious publicity gambits? Or do his duties also include functioning as a member of Jeff Zucker’s “media/PR team?” Thomas Paine said “publicity is a black art, but it has come to stay.” It’s certainly a part of The Cable Game, more so for some than others.

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