Here’s another example of something that would never have happened on CNNN when Barack Obama was living in the White House.
On Tuesday afternoon, CNN Politics reporter and Editor-at-Large Chris Cillizza spent several minutes picking apart a picture of President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania, French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte as they stood on a balcony during a meeting that was held at the White House.
Afternoon CNN Newsroom host Brooke Baldwin set a less-than-serious tone in teeing up Cillizza: “There’s so much we could get into, this whole, this Macron visit to the White House. All the handshakes, the brushing of I don’t know what that was on Macron’s lapel, the four of them lifting their hands. Where do you want to begin?”
Cillilla offered some trademark "analysis" that viewers have come to expect, joking that he had “stunningly” not been invited to the state dinner to be held that evening. He then launched into his extremely detailed analysis of a single photograph:
I do want to go through this picture. So this is the four of them after they both gave, Macron and Trump, both gave speeches.
So obviously, lots of people talking about Melania Trump’s hat. That’s the buzz of the picture.
However, “I find the political theatrics fascinating,” the CNN reporter added. “What is going on here” as Melania Trump and the French president held each other’s hands up in the air?
Cillizza also wondered why Macron and Trump were making a similar gesture, especially since the French official was “doing the ‘Hook-em Horns’ sign” with his index finger and little finger.
“It’s either that or the Gene Simmons KISS guitarist thing,” he continued, “but either way, it’s super weird.”
Next, Cillizza asked why Melania Trump was holding the French official’s “other two fingers,” while the U.S. President was “grabbing, I think, just Macron’s middle finger,” which he claimed was “super super awkward.”
“These are the things that I spend my life trying to figure out,” he told Baldwin. “It’s a blessing and a curse.”
“Is there any more you want to dissect of this photo?” she asked, obviously reading from a script. “Like smiles or lack thereof? Trump’s overcoat?”
“OK,” Cillizza quickly responded before indicating that the temperature was “60 degrees in Washington when this picture was taken.”
“I sweat a lot at all times,” he happily volunteered, but “I don’t wear an overcoat unless it’s 20 or below.”
The analyst then stated: “I’m going to go from happiest to least happy to be in this picture.”
He bizarrely noted that Melania Trump was the happiest since she looked “thrilled. I think it’s probably the hat. I’d be happy, too.”
While the French president was also smiling, Cillizza claimed Macron had “a devious look because he’s doing the ‘Hook-em Horn’ thing and he’s caught everyone by surprise.”
Baldwin later commented: “My biggest take-away from the whole conversation for the last few minutes is that Macron may be a secret KISS fan, and we’re going to leave it there.”
The segment was obviously based on an article the eye-roll-worthy reporter posted earlier in the day under the title “9 Things on That Epic Trumps-Macrons White House Picture” during which he stated:
There was pomp. There was circumstance. And, as always in these formal settings, there was awkwardness.
The photo of the quartet, taken by Pablo Martinez of the Associated Press, captures that mix of happiness, awkwardness and formality nicely. I've studied the picture and have some thoughts.
“Melania seems to have solved the Macron hand challenge nicely,” he noted. “She appears to be grabbing his two unraised fingers, which is basically the definition of making lemonade out of lemons.”
If this is what passes for analysis on CNN these days, it’s no wonder the channel’s ratings plummeted 19 percent in February. Can you imagine the scorn that would have been heaped on the folks at CNN if they had used such a tone when Obama was in the White House?