On Tuesday, Soledad O’Brien, the former CNN anchor who now has her own show on another network, tweeted, “This terrible analysis by @CillizzaCNN is in part why people hate the media.”
O’Brien’s criticism was aimed at a piece headlined, “Donald Trump is producing the greatest reality show ever” by Chris Cillizza, editor-at-large at CNN.
“You can leave reality TV. But reality TV never leaves you,” Cillizza said. “Again and again, Trump’s White House has looked for all the world like one giant reality show – with the same strong personalities, rivalries, back-biting and surprise plot twists that have made watching other people live their lives on of our culture’s favorite pastimes.”
The dig Cillizza sought to get in was that on the very day Trump tweeted that chaos did not reign in his White House, “only great Energy!” Gary Cohn, his top economic adviser, resigned.
“What’s most amazing about Cohn’s departure is not the theatrical way it played out but that just a few weeks ago people were talking about Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs executive, as a leading candidate to replace John Kelly as White House chief of staff,” Cillizza wrote.
“Is there anything more reality TV than rapidly rising and then collapsing fortunes? The man or woman who you think is for sure going to win ‘Survivor’ or get the final rose (do they still do that?) on ‘The Bachelor’ suddenly falls into disfavor and is out before you blink.”
But Cohn never was a contender for chief of staff – he is known for not supporting wide swaths of the president’s agenda – and the job he was interested in, chairman of the Federal Reserve, went to Jerome Powell.
Moreover, the president’s announcement of tariffs on steel and aluminum may have been the final straw for Cohn, but Cohn threatened to resign in the wake of Trump’s response to the Charlottesville riots and has been expected to find a way out since.
O’Brien seemed to be hinting at this very thing in her tweet. After Cillizza responded to the original tweet, “Hey Soledad! Thanks as always for reading,” she wrote back, “You’re welcome. You have a big platform, be thoughtful about the stories you tell and how you tell them.”
Cillizza then asked if O’Brien had read the whole thing. She said she had. He responded, “Then I really don’t get our criticism.” To which she responded, “The only way my criticism would make sense is if I didn’t read your article? Sigh.”
Twitchy entered the fray with a short story headlined, “Let’s all enjoy Soledad O’Brien trashing Chris Cillizza’s latest hot take,” that made the case and added a generous supply of tweets that almost all joined in the criticism of Cillizza’s piece as basically vapid and unimportant.
“We at Twitchy write about CNN editor-at-large Chris Cillizza quite a bit since he shares a hive mind with Brian Stelter, and the two of them provide such a deep vein of material (and a lot of bananas labeled as apples).
“But there’s something about Cillizza’s analysis Tuesday night – hey, the Trump administration is just like a reality show! – that really didn’t fly, particularly with Soledad O’Brien.”
Twitchy guessed readers were offended by the last two paragraphs of Cillizza’s piece, which read:
“The medium and long-term impact of running a White House and, therefore, a country, on the principles of reality TV remain to be seen. People can’t tear their eyes from the spectacle, sure, but lots and lots of them say they don’t like what they see.
“Trump is betting that in a few years enough people will vote to renew the show, captivated by what possibly could come around the corner next – whether they can admit to themselves how much they like the show.”