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CNN’s Jon Klein Plays Defense at TCA

This week at the Television Critics Association press tour, CNN President Jon Klein had to defend his network after two weeks in the public eye following Lou Dobbs‘ coverage of the “birthers” movement.

During a three-hour panel Klein continued touting CNN’s claim to the biggest “reach” of any network, thanks to its strong web presence. While in traditional television viewer metrics the network has continued to trail behind Fox News, Klein seems unconcerned:

“You’ve got one network on the right and one on the left, and we’re the only one that is based on reporting news,” Klein said. “That’s really working for us. Our journalistic quality is higher than it’s ever been.”

After the panel, Klein engaged in a short Q&A with Variety TV critic Brian Lowry. Lowry pressed Klein on the statements Dobbs has made on his radio show regarding President Barack Obama’s birth certificate that seem to contradict the position he’s taken on his CNN program:

We have no control over what he says on his radio show. It’s not a CNN radio program so he does what he does on the radio separate from what he does on our air. So we ask you and anyone writing about this, to look at what he says on CNN. It’s the only thing we control.

I would rather all of our leading journalists rely on their best judgments and instincts and our guidance about them. We believe in the editorial compass of all of our people. It’s going to be different according to the individual. But that just makes us a more interesting and vibrant place. Lou is listening to a certain segment of the population all day long on his radio show so naturally that’s going to inform some of the decisions that he makes. But, again, to be clear: He is not exploring the question of whether Barack Obama is an American citizen. That is settled. It is a dead issue as far as CNN is concerned.

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