CNN, which is eager to polish up its battered image and low ratings under new boss Jeff Zucker, didn’t exactly do itself proud Thursday with its extensive coverage of plumbing problems and other hassles aboard a cruise ship, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The channel “spent much of the day and night reporting on the Carnival Triumph, which caught fire off the coast of Mexico and, after days floating as a wounded vessel, finally docked in Alabama late Thursday night,” THR reports. “CNN’s Erin Burnett broadcast live from the ship terminal in Alabama, and the network had five reporters there, some descending on passengers as they disembarked from the ship, which had no working plumbing or electricity for days. The coverage continued well into Friday morning.”
CNN posted at least 14 stories about the ship on its website, THR notes, adding: “CNN’s obsession with the fecal-filled freighter made a splash — and drew plenty of blowback.”
Among those joining in the feeding frenzy was Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart (see video below), who “opened Thursday night’s ‘Daily Show’ with a takedown of the comprehensive attention, calling it ‘wall-to-shit-covered-wall coverage, treating a stalled cruise ship like it’s the Shackleton Expedition,’ giving a wink to all of his fans with an interest in Antarctic exploration,” THR reports.
The CNN coverage also caught the attention of Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher, who wrote: "The live coverage of Triumph’s arrival yielded moments that were the complete opposite of riveting," THR notes.
“Slate’s Dave Weigel tweeted, ‘The “stranded cruise ships” coverage must be driving CNN’s surge to the top of the ratings,’" the report adds.
Brian Stelter, media reporter for The New York Times, pointed the finger at Zucker. THR cites this passage from Stelter’s reporting: "The coverage had all the hallmarks of Jeff Zucker, the former ‘Today’ show producer and NBC chief executive who took over CNN Worldwide last month. Mr. Zucker has been trying to take advantage of CNN’s news resources as he attempts to revitalize the low-rated channel. The cruise ship story was a no-brainer to him: From a producer’s standpoint, it has high stakes, human drama and a logical beginning, middle and end."
THR reported separately on a particluar incident in which CNN reporter Martin Savidge was “schooled” by a cruise ship passenger for likening the ship’s problems to Hurricane Katrina.
The story notes that Savidge invoked the “isolation factor” in comparing the two events during an interview with passenger Rob Kenny.
Savidge says to Kenny: "They [Katrina victims] never heard anything either. Your mind begins to race … you think you’re all alone. And of course, any rumor becomes solid fact."
“To which Kenny responded: ‘Let’s put that in perspective. I mean, Katrina was a major devastation. We’re on a freaking cruise ship, and we’re just out having a good time. … That angle, I get it because it is just the isolation of communication, but two different things. Two different things,’" THR reports.
Here’s Jon Stewart’s take: