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Posts Tagged ‘Charles Bierbauer’

Turning Down the Volume for ‘Crossfire’ 2.0


New “Crossfire” hosts (l-r) Stephanie Cutter, Van Jones, S.E. Cupp and Newt Gingrich.

When last we saw CNN’s “Crossfire,” it resembled a scene from “Animal House,” minus the togas.

Eight years later, “Crossfire” has learned its manners, according to CNN. Hosts will use their indoor voices, and will allow each other to finish sentences. The experiment begins at 6:30 tonight, with Newt Gingrich and Stephanie Cutter on set with two guests.

“You have to wait for someone to finish, then make your point,” says CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist, who began his CNN career as a “Crossfire” intern in 1989. “We get that. Obviously, it’s something to be mindful of. At the same time, we want to have passionate conversations.”

Even with what’s being billed as a kinder, gentler “Crossfire,” the question remains as to whether the conservative-vs.-liberal roundtable, launched in 1982, matters anymore in a radically altered cable topography.

Given that Fox News and MSNBC have become so polarized, a political program with both sides equally represented is more important than ever, says Charles Bierbauer, Dean of the University of South Carolina’s College of Mass Communications and a CNN correspondent for 20 years.

“Whatever happened to the guy in the middle?” he opines.  “I, as a viewer, like more than one point of view on issues. We’ve evolved, or devolved, to the notion that tuning into Fox gives you a right wing, conservative perspective and tuning into MSNBC gives you a left wing, liberal perspective.”

Going a step further, Feist says CNN “is the only cable-news channel that is capable of hosting “Crossfire” in an authentic way…. We’re bipartisan. Our job is to represent all points of view. It’s hard to imagine viewers would trust other channels to offer a debate program with equally balanced hosts and guests.”

“Balance” often leads to a deafening decibel level. Toward the end, this was “Crossfire’s” hallmark, fueled even more by a vocal studio audience. In his infamous 2004 appearance, Jon Stewart decried the cacophony, which led, in part, to ex-CNN chief Jonathan Klein’s decision to euthanize the show.

“Crossfire’s” approach was emblematic of the time’s ‘argument culture,’ says Amy S. Mitchell, new director of Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.

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Want To Interview The President? How And Why The White House Chooses The Interviewer

Aside from expedited timing, President Obama’s bombshell endorsement of same-sex marriage to ABC’s Robin Roberts on Wednesday was business as usual in terms of White House media manipulation.

So says Charles Bierbauer, Dean of the University of South Carolina’s School of Mass Communications and former senior White House correspondent for CNN.

Once Vice President Biden screwed the pooch on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ on Sunday, the White House went into scramble mode to select the venue – and correspondent — for Obama’s guaranteed blockbuster. It didn’t take long for an offer to be made.

“These things are done in a subtle way,” says Bierbauer, who covered Presidents Reagan and Bush (41) from 1984 to ‘93. “In a sense, you’re always manipulated, but you go into it knowing that. It’s all a negotiation.

“I could imagine the White House saying to ABC, ‘Our preference for a correspondent is Robin Roberts, or we’ll give this to another network.’ It probably happens more than we know. or the White House would care to admit.”

The White House specifically requested Roberts, according to an ABC executive who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Networks always have the option of saying no, but that doesn’t happen, according to Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

“The President of the United States can gain access to any media outlet and any program he chooses, on the assumption he will make news. The news value and ratings potential are so high, nobody will turn it down.”

‘Good Morning America’ and Robin Roberts were the perfect choices for this president at this time, in Jamieson’s view.

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Differing Views on Obama’s Visit to ‘The View’

ObamaView.jpg

Is it beneath President Obama’s dignity to appear on “The View” tomorrow?

Yes, say Gov. Ed Rendell (D-Pennsylvania) and Republican Pat Buchanan. They both blasted Obama’s scheduled visit to ABC’s daytime female chatfest, but theirs appears to be the minority opinion. The program is to be taped today.

A sitting U.S. president should do “serious” shows, Rendell argued yesterday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “The View” can be serious, he said, but it also “rocks and rolls a little bit.” Buchanan agreed, saying there should be some “majesty” to the presidency.

“If Buchanan wants majesty, he’s revealing his royalist side,” riffs Charles Bierbauer, dean of the College of Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina and a former CNN correspondent.

“Wasn’t it Nixon who put the White House police in palace guard uniforms? Then again, wasn’t it Nixon who said ‘Sock it to me!’ on ‘Laugh-in?’” in 1968.

Tomorrow will mark the first time a sitting U.S. president has appeared on a daytime talk show, according to “View” producers. Accordingly, matriarch Barbara Walters will return to the set for the first time since her heart surgery in May.

Obama was previously on “The View” twice — in November 2004, as a U.S. Senator, and in March 2008 (photo above), as a prospective presidential candidate whom Walters pronounced “very sexy.”

Alex S. Jones, director of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, sees no problem with the embattled president sitting in on “The View.”

“Does Obama want to get his message out? Of course he does. If you’re a politician, you go to where the people are going to listen. ‘The View’ is a great place for him to reach a large group of people, a lot of them women concerned about issues like the economy.”

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CNNers Past and Present Celebrate Network’s 30th Anniversary

Sat Party 4.jpgA large crowd of former and current CNNers gathered at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Saturday night to celebrate the network’s thirtieth birthday.

The bash — an unofficial gathering organized by former CNN producer Elissa Free — drew over three hundred people and was emceed by former CNN anchor Bernard Shaw.

“It was a celebration of what we had built,” former CNN correspondent Kelli Arena tells TVNewser. Arena, who started her career at CNN in 1984, said that joining the then-four-year-old network “was a labor of love… There was an energy and an innocence about the place. We brought live to the air things that people had never seen live on the air before.”

CNN founder Ted Turner addressed the group, telling attendees he was proud of what staffers have accomplished. Former CNN president Tom Johnson also spoke.

Current CNNers in attendance included anchor Wolf Blitzer, News Standards and Practices EVP Rick Davis, Political Director Sam Feist, and correspondent Jeanne Meserve.

Former CNNers in the house included Cissy Baker, Ralph Begleiter, Charles Bierbauer, Mike Boettcher, Tony Collings, Roger Cossack, Patty Davis, Bill Dorman, Rusty Dornin, Bob Franken, David French, Frances Hardin, Leon Harris, Sandy Kenyon, Jamie McIntyre, Brooks Jackson, Kathleen Koch, Eileen O’Connor, Chris Plante, Frank Sesno, Mark Shields, Linda Taira, Mary Alice Williams, and Judy Woodruff.

“It was a lot of reminiscing about the little network that could,” Arena said. “There was no griping, no discussion about the current CNN — that’s not why people were there. People were there to celebrate what we had accomplished. It was like a family reunion.”

More photos, after the jump…

(photo by Richard Kolko)

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The Shot Heard ‘Round the Industry. Backpack Journalism on the Rise

equipment_2-25.jpgWill the increased demand for correspondents’ multi-tasking hurt the quality of their reporting?

That’s the big question as prodigious job cuts at ABC and elsewhere force more correspondents to shoot their own video, gather their own sound and edit their own pieces in addition to reporting them.

Certainly, the consolidation saves money, but at what cost to journalism?

To many, the question is moot. Digital one-man bands are the inevitable result of a receding economy and an advancing technology. Expand your skill sets or it’s game over.

Others argue that reportage suffers when a correspondent – particularly a veteran used to having a crew – botches a breaking interview because he’s worried about getting the shot.

“There’s always the potential for missing something if you’re trying to do three things at once,” says Charles Bierbauer, Dean of the College of Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina and a former correspondent at CNN and ABC.

“There’s a lot of value in having a two or three-person team because it gives you more eyes and ears covering the story. I’m not a very good shooter. I don’t have the eye for it. But then I wasn’t trained to be shooter.”

PBS’s Gwen Ifill wasn’t either, but she will be, whether she wants to or not. “What choice do I have? Do it or don’t be employed.”

At J-schools around the country, students are learning every survival skill for the New Order. These “backpack journalists,” in Bierbauer’s words, have been tested and found to work. Having control over every aspect of their stories gives them independence, he adds.

As for the older folks, Bierbauer says he’s seen “some seasoned journalists become very adroit at new media.” At 67, he Tweets. “Why not?”

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