Accuracy in Media

CNN won’t say whether it declined to renew Susan Roesgen’s contract because of her job performance, but that certainly would make sense.

Roesgen committed one of the most blatant violations of journalistic ethics ever seen on air while covering the anti-tax tea party in Chicago on April 15. She was almost universally condemned for picking a fight with an interview subject based on biased assumptions about the tea parties and the Obama administration’s stimulus plan.

Even a former CNN journalist accused Roesgen of crossing a journalistic line. Roesgen wasn’t back on the air for almost a month.

Roesgen may well deserve to lose her job over her outrageous coverage of the tea party, but CNN deserves no praise for the way it handled the matter. From the beginning, the network adopted the kind of strategy condemned by Eileen O’Connor, the former CNN star who criticized Roesgen.

“I think media companies are probably the worst in dealing with the media,” said O’Connor, a lawyer who now offers media training. “Absolutely, I cannot believe it. It is just unbelievable. They go duck and cover right away.”

CNN’s response to the Roesgen affair helps explain why viewers long ago declined to renew their viewing contract with CNN and shifted to Fox — except when they want sensational, nonstop coverage of celebrity events like Michael Jackson’s funeral. Hopefully Fox learned a lesson during its Jackson obsession and will let CNN have the “Wacko Jacko” demographic.

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