CBS's Public Eye blogger Matthew Felling sees curious timing in a controversy CNN reported on an October 31 program, but which took place weeks earlier, involving a stand-up comic and a noose:
Last night on CNN’s “Out in the Open” hosted by Rick Sanchez, he had a lively discussion/debate with an African-American comic who had worn a noose like a necktie as “a fashion accessory.” The segment began:
This is comedian Katt Williams. he wore a noose around his own neck on purpose, he turned it into a fashion accessory as he posed at the BET Hip-Hop awards a few weeks ago. Katt Williams is brave enough to join us to try and explain why he would do something like this.
So CNN found a comic who wore a noose “a few weeks ago” [emphasis Felling's] as the subject of a debate last night -- a debate rerun this morning on CNN. A little bit later, CNN aired a live discussion featuring two guests, with the caption “Noose Incidents: More Cases or More Coverage?”
Felling went on to note the reason for the story on Sanchez's program appears to be as a promotional hook for a November 1 special by Kyra Phillips entitled "The Noose: An American Nightmare."
The CBS staffer argued in closing that increased sightings of nooses is "a trend that’s worth keeping an eye on, to be sure," but that CNN's professional news judgment is called into question when the lines between reporting and program promotion become blurry:
But when one network makes it a priority item – while it doesn't merit a mere mention on the competition, mind you – in the day before it airs a special on the issue, that’s when you start to wonder who is making the news decisions.
If CNN wants to make sure viewers know about the special tonight, more power to them and I hope people watch. But isn't that what commercials are for?