Editorial: Zip it, CNN

Jan 14, 2002  •  Post A Comment

CNN executives were in damage control mode last week, scrambling to make sure everyone knew how outraged they were after their network ran promos for Paula Zahn’s morning news show that described her as “just a little sexy” as the sound of a zipper could be heard in the background.
Ms. Zahn herself was among the critics of the aborted campaign, which was blamed on a promotions department that failed to run the ad by the news department.
Rival Fox News seized the opportunity to rub CNN’s nose in it by again hyping its own self-perceived objectivity and professionalism.
We hope CNN really does regret the ads and will take steps to avoid such blunders in the future. The network does seem a little obsessed with sex these days-including its highly publicized hiring of actress Andrea Thompson, who gained notoriety for her seminude appearance on “NYPD Blue,” to anchor Headline News.
Ms. Thompson, who gave up her Hollywood lifestyle to toil in relative obscurity as a rookie reporter in Albuquerque, N.M., before getting the call from CNN, seems genuinely interested in professional journalism. But the motives of CNN management in placing her in the spotlight, like its willingness to promote Ms. Zahn’s sex appeal, are more suspect.
As it fends off mounting ratings pressure from Fox, CNN needs to remember that it was its reputation for reliable journalism, not its sexy anchors, that made it the leader in cable news in the first place.