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Sunday, May 31, 2009

State of the Union for May 31, 2009

John King started off State of the Union with John King on Sunday morning with Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) and the only Senator currently representing Minnesota, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D), to discuss Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court. King asked the guests about Sotomayor's controversial comments, abortion rights, second amendment rights, and the potential of a filibuster in the Senate. King also asked Sen. Hutchison about running for Governor in Texas and reminded Sen. Klobuchar that the last time that she was on the program she predicted that the drama over the second Senate seat in Minnesota would be resolved by Memorial Day (the issue goes to the Minnesota Supreme court this week.)

If you're interested in seeing who sits on the Senate Judiciary committee that will be conducting the confirmation hearings, a list can be found on the Senate's website.

Senator Mitch McConnell (R) was the second guest to talk to John King. The Supreme Court nomination took center stage. A cloture vote to stop a filibuster and the court decisions that could give the Senator pause in supporting the Sotomayor nomination were discussed. Sen. McConnell was asked about the comments made by some high profile non-Senator Republicans who referred to the Supreme Court nominee as "racist." The Senator didn't want to be labeled as the "speech police" but finally (reluctantly?) admitted that he didn't agree with the statements that were made. King went on to ask the Senator about reforms to the health care system, the impact of the latest stimulus plan, and GM's pending bankruptcy.

King brought in the first panel of strategists with Paul Begala and Kevin Madden. Topics included Judge Sotomayor's nomination (identity politics and rules of the Senate debate). I admit- I thought this segment was a bit short and would have enjoyed a few more minutes of analysis from these two.

John King filed a report on same sex marriage in New York. He spoke with Christine Quinn of the New York City Council (who supports same sex marriage), Maggie Gallagher (who opposes same sex marriage), and Professor Suzanne Goldberg of Columbia Law school.

At 10am, Howard Kurtz came in with Reliable Sources. The first segment focused on the Sotomayor nomination with Chip Reid, Jeff Zeleny, Joan Biskupic, and Roger Cossack. The same panel also discussed the Burris audio tape that puts into question his appointment to the Senate.

Blanquita Cullum and Margaret Carlson further discussed the Sotomayor nomination by comparing it to the coverage during Justice Thomas' nomination as well as Justice Alito's confirmation hearings. Cullum made an interesting comment regarding the debate: "If you're in the majority you vote- when you're in the minority you talk."

Andy Kindler and Eric Deggans discussed the transition of hosts on the Tonight Show and the Jon & Kate media buzz. I'm with Kurtz on this one- I'm among the "cultural cluelessness" with the Jon & Kate tabloid headlines. Deggan blogged about going on Reliable Sources on his blog.

At 11am, it was back to John King and the best political team on television. The first panel of the hour was with Donna Brazile and Ed Gillespie. Topics included Judge Sotomayor's comments about her experience as a Latina woman, whether she would be an "activist judge", affirmative action, comments that she is a "racist", her position on Roe v Wade/ the right to privacy, and how fast or slow the Senate should start comfirmation hearings.

The next segment this hour was the CNN Diner which was taped in Queens, New York. The discussion revolved around the Supreme Court nomination, same sex marriage, and the economy.

Ed Henry, Dana Bash, and David Gergen were the "senior" political panel this morning. They discussed Senator McConnell's remark from earlier in the morning, diversity on the court, and the GM bankruptcy.

The next segment was a report from John King on General Motors as he got to see inside their design studio.

The first 40 minutes of the 12pm hour was a recap of the 9am hour. The above screencap caught my eye while watching the program: I don't remember ever seeing two foreign language newspaper front pages spotlighted on the screen behind King. Several newspaper front pages were mntioned during the The Last Word which went to Egypt's Ambassador to the United States, Sameh Shoukry, to discuss the President's trip to the Middle East and specifically to Egypt, the Israeli/ Palestinian issue, and the impression of the US in the Middle East.

This week's Staff Briefing was a bit short (King had a lot going on Friday) and comes from Wolf Blitzer's office:

The podcasts this week:

Another podcast you may be interested in this week is 44 with Ed Henry. John King joined Ed Henry on his weekly radio program (Friday's at 11AM on CNN Radio). If you have never listened to Henry's radio program, it is very different from the typical reporting that he does from the White House- the tone is different and he takes phone calls from listeners throughout the hour. On this past Friday morning, King discussed the Sotomayor nomination. Ed Henry also put his producer on the spot since she used to work with King when he was covering the White House.

Want to get a behind the scenes look at State of the Union? The Cleveland Jewish News Foundation is having a silent auction on June 18th where one of the auction items includes a visit to the Washington D.C. CNN Studios:

Inside the Beltway

You and three guests get a private tour of the inner-workings of the U.S. Capitol Building with Rep. Marcia Fudge, the new representative of the 11th Congressional District of Ohio that encompasses much of the Jewish community. The package also includes a visit for four to the CNN studios during a live broadcast of State of the Union with John King.

Donors: Rep. Marcia Fudge, CNN

John King will also be the keynote speaker at this event.

Marketwatch's Jon Friedman has been profiling the Sunday talk anchors in a series of articles. He recently profiled John King: "CNN's King anything but self-important":

While King is hard-working, energetic and ebullient, the three-hour workload prompts the question: Is this too much for his own good?

"It's a bit of a grind but it's fun," King said. "I have plenty of adrenaline and energy -- and I have Starbucks to back me up on a slow day."

Fair enough. But King's audience might take him for granted.

"I know what you're saying," King conceded. "We're on cable. We have more time [to fill]. God bless those people who watch me from 9 to 1. If you do, I'll send you a T-shirt."

Then he sensibly added: "I'm joking!"

Turning reflective, King said: "It's hard, after 18 weeks, to be certain of anything. We can't make any conclusions now. At the moment, we're feeling happy and encouraged."

You can read the full article here.

A few quick birthday notes: Happy Birthday to Heidi Collins who celebrates her birthday on June 1st.

And it was 29 years ago on June 1, 1980 when CNN first went on the air. I have a clip of CNN's first TV moments in a post that I did late last year: CNN's First Anchors Retire.

All content, unless otherwise cited, is © All Things CNN and may not be used without consent of the blog administrator.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Jeffrey Toobin did an interview with Bitter Lawyer, posted on 5/27, discussing his career before CNN and how he got into TV journalism. Click here for the full interview.

The NY Daily News recently asked Larry King who his dream interview would be with. His answer: Osama Bin Laden. Although he acknowledges it's not an attainable interview he goes on to say how he'd go about asking questions to engage Bin Laden in the discussion. As far as a more attainable interview he'd enjoy: the American Idol kids. Click here for the excerpt from NY Daily News.

Roland Martin wrote an article for Houston Style Magazine, posted Thursday, on Michael Vick and whether he will be able to play for the NFL after his sentence is served. In the article he discusses his views on how people who have served sentences are treated after their release and how he believes Vick's crime shouldn't prevent him from playing after his sentence is served. Click here for the full article.

Book TV on CSPAN 2 recently talked to Wolf Blitzer to find out what is on his summer reading list. Click here for's article with video of Wolf going through his list.

On the list:
  • The Emperor's New Clothes: Exposing the Truth From Watergate to 9/11 by Richard Ben-Veniste
  • House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street by William D. Cohan
  • Myths, Illusions, and Peace: Finding a New Direction for America in the Middle East by Dennis Ross & David Makovsky
  • The Inheritance: The World Obama Confronts and the Challenges to American Power by David E. Sanger
  • A Mad Desire to Dance by Elie Wiesel
Christiane Amanpour has donated to three journalists, Andy Clarke, Mark Ludlow, and Andy Stevenson who are making a 200 mile bike ride over the course of 5 days in memory of two of their comrades, CBS News Cameraman Paul Douglas, and James Brolan, a freelance soundman who was on assignment for CBS News. Douglas and Brolan lost their lives in an insurgent attack in Baghdad three years ago May 29th. The journalists will donate the money to the Rory Peck Trust for freelance journalists and Reporters Without Borders. To find out more about their ride click here.

Follow Up:

Back on January 21 we told you about a story run first by the NY Post, then by the Huffington Post, and the Gothamist about Soledad O'Brien who was trying to have a family evicted from their co-op because of their large, smelly dog. Well, now we have the verdict ... the dog stays. Click here for NY Post article.

All content, unless otherwise cited, is © All Things CNN and may not be used without consent of the blog administrator.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Refugees, nukes, a DMZ, smuggling, thieves... yikes!

A very busy week on the international front. Here's some of what the CNN teams are covering...

Monday, Dan Rivers reported from Islamabad on the fighting in the Swat Valley as the Pakistani army tries to oust the Taliban, as well as the mass exodus of residents to refugee camps:

Tuesday, Dan reported on the horrific conditions the refugees are describing in the home region:

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After North Korea conducted another nuclear test early Monday, Morgan Neill (currently covering the Tokyo bureau) reported on Japan's reaction to the test:

Wednesday, as Japan officially downplayed the test, Morgan spoke to a woman of North Korean decent who lives in Japan about the reaction she feels from her fellow countrymen:

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The same day, a piece from Zain Verjee gave us a look at the Korean DMZ:

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Wednesday, Paula Hancocks gave us a look at one of the smuggling tunnels used to move food and goods (and weapons) from Egypt into Gaza:

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Cal Perry is wrapping up a rotation in Baghdad and today he gave us a look at the infamous Thieves' Market before heading back to Beirut:

That's it for me this week. See you Monday!

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Out of the Box May 27

Larry King (from Larry King’s tweets)

Hey Canada - check me out on CBC's The Hour tomorrow at 11pmET -- find out why George kept his name for TV and I changed mine.

Hey Chicago! I'm doing a book signing at The Bookstall at Chestnut Court. Saturday at 10:30. Come on by!

James Carville

James Carville @ 2009 Speakers Series - The 2009 Speaker Series: The Minds That Move the World will be at the Chicago Theater 175 N. State St. on May 28th with Charlie Rose interviewing James Carville and former Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove for “Strategies, Alliances and Policy”. Tickets are $35-$185 and available by calling 800-745-3000

Anderson Cooper

Anderson will be co-hosting Live with Regis and Kelly on Thursday June 4 and Friday June 5.

Sorry the box was not super stacked this week. Have a great one ~ Sapphire

All content, unless otherwise cited, is © All Things CNN and may not be used without consent of the blog administrator.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ratings For The Week of May 18, 2009

Ratings for the week May 18, 2009 - May 22, 2009

Adults 25-54
Adults 25-54
Adults 25-54

MSNBC had another good week with the Adults 25 - 54 demographic. They came in second place in the average for the week at both 8PM and 9PM. During the 8PM, they had the second highest demographic ratings on two nights and third highest on the remaining three nights, but the average of all five nights put them just ahead of HLN. At 9PM, they came out ahead of CNN three out of five nights.

CNN continued their fourth place finish in the 8PM time slot. At 9PM and 10PM, they took third place for the week. During the 10PM hour, they came in third four times and fourth once (Wednesday).

As mentioned before, HLN did well during the 8PM hour coming in second three nights out of five, but still ended up in third when the five days were averaged. At 9Pm, they continue to be in fourth place. They swept the 10PM hour with second place finishes all five nights.

^ Courtesy Nielsen Media Research; Demographics where noted; Live + Same Day (LS) Fast Track Nationals.

This first article isn't directly ratings related, but it goes along with the on going discussion about CNN's primetime line up. Rodney Ho interviewed Larry King for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution article 8 wives: Yes, it’s hard job. Here's a brief excerpt:

Q: It’s been 24 years. How long do you want to keep doing “Larry King Live”?

A: I’m 75. I’m signed through 2011. I don’t feel 75. I feel young. Yesterday, I was talking with [CNN U.S. President] Jon Klein. We were at a Yankee game together. I asked him what happens after 2011. He said, “Look —- if you still feel as good as you do, keep it as long as you want.” I have no designs on leaving. I’ll never retire as long as it goes well.

On Sunday's Reliable Sources, Howard Kurtz took on the issue of cable news ratings and the political polarization of news coverage with David Zurawik, Lauren Ashburn, and Matt Frei. He started the panel discussion by referencing a recent New York Times article by Bill Carter titled With Rivals Ahead, Doubts for CNN’s Middle Road. Zurawik took particular issue with MSNBC airing documentaries on the weekends instead of providing news. The discussion also touched on anchors showing emotion and injecting opinions into their programs, the use of opposing political commentators versus having only one side of an argument represented, and the entertainment factor of news versus objective journalism. It was an interesting discussion, although as you may imagine, they were not able to solve the problem. Here are a few clips from the segment:

The New York Post's Page Six took aim at CNN's ratings yesterday with an article titled SINKING ANCHORS ANDERSON COOPER AND ROLAND MARTIN HOBBLE CNN.

SINCE President Obama took office in January, CNN has seen its ratings drop. And one reason has to do with Campbell Brown. The host of "No Bias, No Bull" has been on maternity leave for the past month, and in her absence, the show with substitute host Roland Martin has nose-dived. Sources say he has complained the network doesn't promote him enough or book him high-profile guests.


A rep for Cooper wouldn't discuss May numbers but said, "Year to date, 'AC360' is having its second-best performance ever with an average of 1.161 million overall viewers and 369,000 in the target demographic. It has an impressive 51 percent advantage over MSNBC in total viewers and a 41 percent lead over MSNBC in the 25-54 demographic."

By my count, for the month of May so far (May 1 - May 22) CNN's Adults 25 - 54 viewers average for 8PM is 133,386 which gives them fouth place after FOX, MSNBC, and HLN. At 10PM, they are averaging 197,325 which puts them in third place behind FOX and HLN.

As to blaming Roland Martin... they won't be able to do that for too much longer. Campbell Brown is scheduled to return next week- Monday, June 1, 2009.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Pakistan, Afghanistan ... and MOB visits PDX

Stan Grant (in Kabul) spoke to a former high-ranking Taliban official about his internment at Guantanamo Bay and his return to Afghanistan. Stan also discusses a major drug seizure in Helmand province:

Afghanistan supplies most of the illegal opiate trade to the world, but Reza Sayah reports that Iran is doing some PR to make it clear that the drugs are not welcome in that country:

Ivan Watson was one of the reporters flown into the Swat Valley by the Pakistani military so that they could show off captured Taliban turf. Friday, a brief bit of footage from that excursion:

Saturday, a longer look at the bunkers as the tour continues, but Ivan also points out that the military took reporters on a similar tour early last year. At the end of the clip, a brief Q&A from Islamabad:

And what about all those refugees? Yesterday Dan Rivers reported from a refugee camp near Peshawar:

Using your cell phones, Americans can text the word “SWAT" to the number 20222 and make a $5 contribution that will help the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees provide tents, clothing, food, and medicine to hundreds of thousands of affected people.
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Well, here's a familiar face we haven't seen on ATC in awhile ... this past week, PBS has been airing a documentary by Miles O'Brien titled Blueprint America: Road to the Future. Part of the program was filmed last month here in Portland, and I pulled a couple minutes of it:

The locals don't like anyone bragging up the city, afraid it will bring more people up here, so shhh... But it was great to see Miles riding the Max and seeing some of the sights. I still really miss his NASA coverage on CNN. You can keep up with Miles on Twitter and True/Slant.

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Where in the World...?

MONDAY: Wolf Blitzer hosted TSR from New York, where he accepted the Peabody Award given to TPBTOT; Larry King also hosted his program from New York all week as he promoted his new book.

TUESDAY: Anderson Cooper was one of the guest hosts for Larry King Live.

WEDNESDAY: Candy Crowley was in New York.

THURSDAY: Candy was back in Washington; Cal Perry was on from Baghdad (above). Don Lemon was in for Heidi Collins.

FRIDAY: Dan Rivers reported from Islamabad; Ivan Watson was in the Swat Valley region of Pakistan; Reza Sayah was in Zahedan, Iran. Don was in for Heidi; John Roberts was in for Wolf (from New York); Kitty Pilgrim was in for Lou Dobbs; Ryan Seacrest was in for Larry.

SATURDAY: Ivan was back in Islamabad. Alina Cho was in for Betty Nguyen; Randi Kaye was in for Don.

SUNDAY: Stan Grant was on from Kabul; Dan had a piece on from Peshawar. Alina was in for Betty; Randi was in for Don. Domestic carried the International feed for about 20 minutes starting around 1amET to cover North Korea's nuclear test, with Zain Verjee and Don Riddell hosting.

That's it for me today... hope you had a good Memorial Day. Now it's back to work tomorrow. Speaking of which (nice segue there, huh?):

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Highlights State of the Union - May 24, 2009

It is Memorial Day weekend here in the United States and despite the holiday, John King was in the Washington, D.C. studio on Sunday morning for a partially live State of the Union. The first guests were Senator Barbara Boxer (D) and Senator Richard Shelby (R). They discussed the issues around the closing of Gitmo (what do you do with the detainees?), indefinite detentions of prisoners, torture, and the pending Supreme Court vacancy (what demographic should the appointee fill and also how fast should the Senate schedule the confirmation hearings).

Next, was a pre-recorded interview with former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge (R). King asked Ridge about Former VP Cheney’s comments regarding President Obama making the country less safe. Ridge took an interesting position concerning the ongoing debate between the two: they’re debating the wrong things concerning the nation’s security. Ridge was very careful with his words when discussing specifics about the security and torture debate. They also discussed Colin Powell's views of the GOP, Rush Limbaugh 9although Ridge hesitated to directly criticize him, Pennsylvania politics, and King attempted (and failed) to get the former Governor to divulge his plans for 2010 and 2012.

Back to a live discussion with Ed Rollins (R) and Bob Shrum (D) about President Obama's comments on having to clean up the previous administration's "mess", the President's performance, and the President's commencement speech at the Naval Academy (where Sen. McCain's son was graduating).

Keeping in mind that this weekend is a time to honor those who have served in the military, John King showed a report he did a few years ago when he visited Arlington National Cemetery and talked with US Army Captain Mike Bandzwolek about the honor guard.

At 10AM, the program went to a prerecorded Reliable Sources with Howard Kurtz. This week's program included coverage of the "showdown" between President Obama and Former VP Cheney with Karen Tumulty, Clarence Page, and Chris Stirewalt. Karen Tumulty pointed out that this was actually two speeches and not a debate: the debate was created by the media (surprise, surprise). Kurtz questioned whether the press should be more critical of the Obama administration as they continue to support certain Bush policies. They also discussed Rush Libaugh's resignation from his position as the head of the GOP, and Time Magazine's recent Michelle Obama's cover story and the media's "fawning" over the first family.

Kurtz took on the issue of cable news ratings and the polarization of the coverage with David Zurawik, Lauren Ashburn, and Matt Frei. I'll have more about this segment in my Tuesday night ratings post.

Next was Kurtz' interview with HBO's Bill Maher. They talked about Maher getting booed on his own program when he makes jokes about the President, swine flu, Miss California, FOX News, and the challenge of getting conservative guests to appear on his program.

Kurtz started to ask Maher about comments made on FOX and received this response:

Another Fox host, Greg Gutfeld said, "One of the great things about Obama..."


KURTZ: Greg Gutfeld. He's on...

MAHER: Greg Gutfeld?

KURTZ: He's on late at night.

MAHER: Is that a real name? Is this a trick question?

KURTZ: No, no, no. I wouldn't do that.

MAHER: Come on. You're making up a Fox newscaster. It's OK. I'll go along with it.

KURTZ: "One of the great things about Obama is how it terminated the relevance of Bill Maher. His schtick is now just a smirk in a suit."

Are you getting under their skin?

MAHER: I guess so. Hey, when you piss off Greg Gutfeld, I think you're doing something right.

Who is Greg Gutfeld? I know more about Jon and Kate than this guy.

Source: CNN Reliable Sources transcript (May 24, 2009)

Richard Quest discussed the recent Parliamentary scandals that have been covered by London papers and about the material that the Daily Telegraph was able to get a hold of to expose the scandal.

That wraps of Reliable Sources for this week and brings us back to John King live in the studio to talk with James Carville and Mary Matalin. King first asked them about Gov. Ridge's comments from earlier in the program, the President's plans for Gitmo, the Supreme Court vacancy, Colin Powell's comments about the GOP, and life inside the White House.

The CNN Diner segment this week was from Los Angeles with three Iraq veterans. Prior to the segment airing, King reviewed the number of US Troop casualties in Iraq (4301) and Afghanistan (686). One of the gentlemen made this very true comment during the discussion:

A lot of people use all these holidays, Veterans Day, Memorial Day and whatnot as a day of relaxation. But let's not forget we have our sons and daughters in harm's way. And those -- some of those have not come home. Better yet, they came home in a casket draped in a flag. That flag will always fly at my house, Veterans Day, Memorial Day weekend, and that's to honor those who have served this country. It's not a day of celebration. It's to honor those who have served our country.

And breaking news interrupted the program (this is starting to become a Sunday morning habit)- the space shuttle Atlantis landing at Edwards Air Force base. King spoke with John Zarrella and watched the 53rd shuttle make a safe landing.

The (shortened) political panel this week consisted of Joe Johns, Gloria Borger, and Dana Bash. The topics included: the closing of Gitmo, Speaker Pelosi and Former Speaker Gingrich, and the direction the Republican party needs to head in order to survive and who will lead it.

While King was recently in Las Vegas, he interviewed Judy Bagley, a casino cashier who lost her job and Mayor Oscar Goodman who takes issue with Obama's comments about excessive business travel to Las Vegas.
And someone please correct me if I’m wrong- but if you watch the report- does CNN show Mayor Goodman coloring at his desk (arts & crafts time)?

The first half of the last hour of State of the Union was a repeat of the first part of the 9AM hour. Then King debuted a new Google Earth layer that displays the home towns of the troops that have died in Iraq and Afghanistan (5,679 total including coalition troops). The program links the deceased soldiers to the incident that took their lives as well as provides information on the soldiers.

The last word went to Senator Byron L. Dorgan (D). The Senator's book discusses the woes of the economy and got an endorsement from King at the end of the interview.

The program appropriately ended with the report on Arlington National Cemetary's honor guard.

John King's staff briefing from this week was posted to

In case you missed State of the Union or Reliable Sources, you can always download the podcast version from

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Saturday's Scoop

On Sunday, 5/17, Christiane Amanpour delivered the commencement address to 578 Dickinson College graduates. She talked about her life and how she got started at CNN. Her advice to students: "God gave gifts and talents to everyone, but talents are not enough. Hard work really makes the difference. Battle the word 'no.' Forge through it to keep on your chosen path. I hope you find something that sets you on fire with passion, commitment and joy." Click here for the full article.

Wolf Blitzer also delivered a commencement address last weekend. He talked about his sports playing in highschool and college and how that taught him a lesson, stating: "The lesson here is if at first you don't succeed, try something else." resulting in him turning his attention from football to journalism. Click here for the full article from the Olean Times Herald.

The Women's Sports Foundation also posted a video of Christiane Amanpour discussing how sports can teach girls valuable life lessons. Here is a link to the article. The video was originally posted to WSF's facebook page which can be found here.

David Gergen wrote an article for Fortune Magazine earlier this month on "How Business Can Stand Tall Again." In it he talks about the current economic crisis and where we go from here. Click here for the article.

On 5/19, posted a Q&A they did with Fareed Zakaria. They also discuss our current economic standing as well as who Fareed's new book is written for and who he's found reading it. Click here for the Q&A.

Last Monday, 5/18, the 68th Annual Peabody Awards ceremony took place in NYC hosted by Brian Williams. Wolf Blitzer accepted the Peabody for CNN- awarded for their election coverage. Mediabistro also posted a video of Wolf on what it means to win a Peabody Award and how to keep the momentum going. Here is a link to the full article.

And last but not least, happy birthday to Jeffrey Toobin who turned 49 on Thursday!

All content, unless otherwise cited, is © All Things CNN and may not be used without consent of the blog administrator.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Extreme Challenges ... and Reza Aslan

There will be another program in the "Extreme Challenges" series airing tonight at 11pmET. This looks like another terrific hour of intelligent, thought-provoking viewing:
AC360 is running a special hour, “Extreme Challenges: The Next 100 Days”, on Thursday night. Anderson is the host of a compelling hour of panel discussion with some of the brightest minds at CNN who examine the crucial issues facing President Obama over his next 100 days in office. Topics include The Wars (Afghanistan and Iraq), Foreign Policy (mainly Iran and the Middle East), The Economy, America’s Health (Reforming Healthcare), The Supreme Court, and Change in America (governance). The panelists are David Gergen, Christiane Amanpour, Michael Ware, Fareed Zakaria, Candy Crowley, Ali Velshi, Sanjay Gupta, Jeffrey Toobin and Joe Johns.
(Guess which part of that paragraph makes me very, very happy? Hint: check the photo I chose for the top of the post!)

Another preview clip is available on

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Monday, Fareed Zakaria was a guest on The Situation Room, where he discussed the meeting between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Resolving the Palestinian crisis will be a major challenge but is crucial in resolving so many issues in the Middle East:

Also on Monday, Tony Harris had a very interesting three-way discussion with Ivan Watson (in Islamabad) and Stan Grant (in Kabul) regarding the Pakistan/Afghanistan border issue:

Tuesday, Anderson Cooper focused on the fight against the Taliban and the refugee crisis -- now the largest mass-movement of people since the one that occurred during the genocide in Rwanda. First he spoke with Ivan Watson:

That was immediately followed by a discussion with Fareed Zakaria and Peter Bergen:

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Tuesday night, I was fortunate enough to be able attend a book-signing event with Reza Aslan. As you know from his appearances on CNN, he is absolutely brilliant at explaining the complexities of how the Muslim world views the West and our actions (especially of late!). His first book, No god but God, is essential reading for anyone who is looking for a primer on Islam, and his new book, How to Win a Cosmic War, details the thought processes of those who are fighting not for land or freedom, but for other-worldly objectives. It's one thing to someday be able to sit down with Hamas and talk about negotiating land boundaries and peace treaties, but how do you ever sit down with al Qaeda and discuss the removal of all borders in order to create a Muslim caliphate? "Cosmic" warriors are not interested in events in this world, they are focused on the world to come, which is why they find it easy to martyr themselves and anyone who gets in their way.

(One of the things that I find extremely interesting is the concept of apostasy, which is what allows Islamic extremists to slaughter so indiscriminately, despite Mohammed's explicit teachings that to kill innocents is a violation of Islamic law. But if you decide your neighbor is misguided in how he worships, if you declare him an apostate, then you rationalize a way to excuse it; in fact, it is now essential that you kill him, he is worse than an unbeliever because he sullies your one true religion. This is why Sunnis kill Shias, as we have witnessed for so many tragic years in Iraq. But in his book, Reza lays out the concept as it is used by Jewish and Christian "warriors" as well. It is an easy and effective tool whenever a cosmic war is waged.)

At any rate, yesterday Ms. Sapphire listed the remaining dates from this month's book tour; next month he spends a week in the UK and then is back here for a few more dates... keep an eye on his schedule and by all means go see him speak if you can. He has a wonderful way of cutting through the fog and of puncturing so many of the misguided precepts that were applied to this "war on terror." (Unfortunately, we usually only get to see the very serious, buttoned-down Reza when he appears on CNN; in person he is very, very funny and mocks what so desperately needs to be mocked. We have given more power to these groups by acting as if we are all cowering under our beds because of them.)

Also, for what it's worth, he's a really nice guy. He appreciates "the greatest book store in America." (It really is.) And he started his talk with a swine flu joke ... you gotta love that!

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Out of the Box May 20

Anderson Cooper

Anderson Cooper will be honored by Conservation International Thursday May 21/09 at 6:30 PM the benefit gala will be held at the Natural History Museum in NYC

Reza Aslan

The following are the remaining dates of Reza book signing tour

Orange County, CA – May 26

James Carville

James Carville to speak at the Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theater on 5/27 along with Charlie Rose and Karl Rove

Soledad O'Brien

Soledad O'Brien to serve as Mistress of Ceremonies for MLB Beacon of Change, Life and Hope event on 6/20

Follow Up

David Gergen spoke at the Women's Division of the Jewish United Fund's Spring Event Luncheon at the Chicago Hilton on Monday May 18/09

Soledad O'Brien attends People En Espanol's 50 Most Beautiful on Wednesday May 13/09

Thanks again to Julie. See you al next week ~ Sapphire

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ratings For The Week of May 11, 2009

Ratings for the week May 11, 2009 - May 15, 2009

Adults 25-54
Adults 25-54
Adults 25-54

FOX remains on top of the Adults 25 - 54 demographic winning every prime time hour all five days last week. CNN did worse than they have been (yes, for those of you who may have doubted that was possible- it is.) They remained in fourth place during the 8PM hour, dropped to third place at 9PM, and just barely managed a third place finish at 10PM.

HLN faired much better overall: second place at 8PM; fourth place at 9PM; and second place at 10PM. Having a Lou Dobbs repeat on at 9PM has not helped HLN in the ratings. They lose between 40 - 80% of their lead in demographic audience at 9PM.

MSNBC had an OK week. At 8PM, they came in third; during the 9PM they grabbed second place; and at 10PM they ended up in fourth.

The 10PM hour this week really looked a race for the bottom spot. Looking at the day to day rankings, it wasn't obvious which network was going to come out ahead in the average. HLN came in second twice, third twice, and fourth once- that put them in second place in the average. CNN found themselves in fourth place three times (Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday)- the other two days they came in second -which is how they squeaked by with an average for the week in third place. MSNBC came in second place once, third place three times, and fourth place once, yet ends up in fourth place when the math is done.

^ Courtesy Nielsen Media Research; Demographics where noted; Live + Same Day (LS) Fast Track Nationals.

And in other ratings news, which CNN program has one of the top ranking websites? HitWise reports that Lou Dobbs Tonight is in the top 10.

Hitwise Custom Report for Top Visited U.S. Cable Network TV Websites - Excluding Children’s Programming (Week ending April 25, 2009)
RankNetworkWebsiteMarket Share Of
U.S. Visits
1Comedy CentralSouth Park6.82%
2Food NetworkPaula’s Home Cooking3.49%
3Comedy CentralThe Daily Show3.31%
4FOXO’Reilly Factor3.02%
5BravoReal Housewives of NYC2.43%
6Food NetworkBarefoot Contessa2.28%
7CNNLou Dobbs Tonight2.18%
8BET106 & Park2.09%
9MTVThe Hills1.66%
10TLCJon and Kate Plus 81.66%

Source: Rankings based on market share of U.S. visits among custom category of cable television network websites from 30 leading commercial cable networks (A&E, ABC Family, Adultswim, AMC, BET, Bravo , CNN, Comedy Central, Discovery, Disney Network, E!, Food Network, FOX News, FX, Hallmark, HGTV, History Channel, Lifetime, MSNBC, MTV, Nick at Nite, Nickelodeon, SciFi, Spike, TLC, TNT, Travel Channel, TruTV, TVLand, USA, VH1) excluding sports networks for the week ending April 25, 2009 (Sunday – Saturday) from the Hitwise sample of 10 million U.S. Internet users.

Source: Hitwise via TV by the Numbers

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Monday, May 18, 2009

The Age of the Unthinkable

Friday, Anderson Cooper interviewed Fareed Zakaria about the Taliban and the battles to come in Pakistan. It's sad to watch the Pakistani army making the same mistakes that we so recently made in Iraq (and are arguably still making in Afghanistan) as far as not using counter-insurgency tactics rather than conventional warfare. And Fareed's point at the end of the piece about Pakistan feeling that they need to plan for what happens after the Americans leave echos something stated many times by Michael Ware about the Iran/Iraq relationship:

Stan Grant reported from Kabul on Thursday about a pitched battle between American forces and Taliban fighters in Khost: 

Nic Robertson is back in Baghdad, and on Friday he reported on something few of us would have expected to see -- the Baghdad train station and the return of service to Samarra:

The title of today's post comes from a book title, and it refers to the connections between previously unimaginable events such as the evolution of Hezbollah and the power of Google. It's a fascinating concept, with inplications in many areas of modern life. Wolf Blitzer interviewed author Joshua Cooper Ramo on the Saturday edition of The Situation Room:

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Where in the World...?

SATURDAY (5/9): Reza Sayah was still in Islamabad; Stan Grant was still in Kabul.

SUNDAY (5/10): Ivan Watson was back in Islamabad after a trip to report on events in Peshawar; Ben Wedeman was in Amman to report on the Pope's mass there.

MONDAY (5/11): Ben was back in Jerusalem; Rob Marciano was at the National Weather Center in Norman, Oklahoma. Carol Costello was in for Kiran Chetry.

TUESDAY (5/12): Gary Tuchman was in Atlanta; Ed Lavendera was in Sherman, Texas; John King joined Heidi Collins for NewsRoom in the CNN Center in Atlanta (above) and then later traveled to Mongtomery and Selma, Alabama to record pieces for his program.

WEDNESDAY (5/13): Suzanne Malveaux was in Tempe to cover the president's commencement address at Arizona State University.

THURSDAY (5/14): Suzanne was in Albuqueque, New Mexico for the president's town-hall meeting; Morgan Neill reported from Tokyo (where he is filling in during Kyung Lah's maternity leave -- thanks to BookAsylum for that info). No Bias, No Bull was pre-empted for a "Money and Main Street" special, hosted by Anderson Cooper and Ali Velshi.

FRIDAY (5/15): Nic Robertson was in Baghdad; Dr. Sanjay Gupta was in New York. TJ Holmes was in for Rick Sanchez; Suzanne was in for Wolf Blitzer.

SATURDAY (5/16): Susan Candiotti was in South Bend, Indiana to cover the preparations for the president's commencement address at Notre Dame.

SUNDAY (5/17): Suzanne covered the Notre Dame address. Anderson gave the keynote address at the 2009 Daniel Pearl Memorial Leacture at UCLA.

By the way, Kristien advises me that Christiane Amanpour and her husband Jamie Rubin will be speaking this evening at the Temple Buell Theatre in Denver, Colorado. 

That's it for me today...I'm back on Thursday.

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