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CNN Backpedals After Biased Sarah Palin Segment

James Hirsen By Monday, 30 July 2012 11:23 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

With the announcement of its president’s departure from the network and its ratings at an all-time low, CNN’s brand looks to be in additional jeopardy.

The cable news network has managed to further tarnish its standing, with the airing of a news story that ended up being an egregious affront to conservatives and a flagrant display of disrespect toward women.

While purportedly seeking to establish the reputation of being a nonpartisan alternative to MSNBC and Fox News, CNN has instead featured unethical biased coverage with regard to Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate.

In a segment covering a visit that Palin recently made to a Chick-fil-A restaurant, CNN pushed the subjectivity envelope with a musical introduction to the spot, which featured pop singer Pink singing a tune called “Stupid Girls.”

After conveying the loaded message via the introductory music, “CNN Sunday Morning” anchor Randy Kaye said the following: “Sarah Palin is apparently hungry for chicken and controversy.”

Kaye went on to describe a Palin Twitter post, which had a picture of the former Alaska governor and her husband Todd visiting a Chick-fil-A establishment.

The use of the Pink song was such a blatant example of bias that executives at CNN evidently found it necessary to issue a face-saving statement.

The network apparently hopes the public will accept that the use of the song “Stupid Girls” to introduce the segment on Palin was inadvertent and not meant to be commentary in nature; this according to the content of a CNN statement to The Wrap.

“The music selection was a poor choice and was not intended to be linked to any news story,” CNN indicated in the statement. “We regret any perception that they were planned together.”

However, in the business of television production, the music used to introduce news segments is not an accidental occurrence. Rather, it involves a process whereby the musical interlude is carefully chosen by professionals so as to introduce an upcoming segment and enhance the listening or viewing experience. Through this technique, individuals are preconditioned and/or primed to more fully absorb story content.

CNN’s attempt to characterize the music selection as merely “a poor choice,” its claim that the music “was not intended to be linked” to the news story, and its “regret” over “perception” all appear to have a hollow ring.

So, too, does the apology from ABC that came last week, after ABC News, via Brian Ross and George Stephanopoulos, erroneously broadcast a report that the suspect in the Colorado “Dark Knight” theater shooting may have been connected to the tea party.

And the apology that came from NBC a few months back, after the house band for “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” introduced then-GOP presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann with a song titled “Lyin' A** B****.”

As a professor of media ethics, I am of the opinion that in the aforementioned CNN instance, as with too many others that preceded it from countless media sources, the network has engaged in a breach of journalistic ethics.

When it comes to a number of our formerly esteemed mainstream media outlets, the concept of journalistic ethics seems to have suffered a disturbing deterioration, and unfortunately along with it, further erosion of the public trust.

James Hirsen, J.D., M.A., in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. Visit Newsmax.TV Hollywood. Read more reports from James Hirsen — Click Here Now.

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Monday, 30 July 2012 11:23 AM
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