Monday, February 18, 2008

Say What You Will (Requiem for a TV News Career)

Maybe this was always the way it had to be.

When I was 19, I broke into the offices of WVUM -- the radio station at the University of Miami -- live, during an installment of my weekly radio show. I raided a file cabinet and my crew and I proceeded to read the minutes of that week's executive board meeting on the air, paying special attention to a recurring topic of conversation among my apparently exasperated supervisors -- a series of incidents which, collectively, were referred to as "The Chez Situation."

The board as a whole was less-than-pleased with, for example, my insistence on jokingly pointing out to my audience the fact that WVUM's faculty adviser seemed to be waging and winning a valiant war against sobriety, and as such deserved congratulations all-around. There was also my insinuation that one of the station's sponsors, a club which had just opened on South Beach, would likely be closed in two weeks then renamed and reopened two weeks later. (In fact, it took about a month to close.)

I regularly ignored the program director's God-awful musical "suggestions," choosing instead to play whatever I felt like hearing.

I ridiculed the University's decision to replace the garbage cans on campus with new, attractive, and extraordinarily expensive stone receptacles immediately after making an announcement that tuition for the coming year would be skyrocketing.

I poked fun at the frat boys.

I advocated mischievous insurrection.

I occasionally threw out a few low-level swear words on-air.

I was kind of a punk kid, and I admit it.

Yet, despite the all of this, I remained on the air simply because even though my superiors may have been irritated by the fallout from my juvenile antics, they usually found the antics themselves eminently entertaining. I was good at what I did; I had a voice and I wasn't the least bit afraid to use it, consequences be damned -- or not considered at all. Being exactly who I was, for whatever reason, seemed to be more important to me than any other consideration.

When I got into television, I did my best to bury my inner-revolutionary. For 16 years I've been a successful producer and manager of TV news, cranking out creative, occasionally daring content on good days and solid, no-frills material on the days in between. I've won several awards and for the most part can say that I'm proud of what I've done in the business, particularly since I never intended to get into it in the first place; by the time college was over, I was playing steadily in a band and fully believed sleeping on floors and subsisting on beer and Taco Bell to be an entirely noble endeavor. I wound up working at WSVN in Miami only after the band imploded, taking my dreams of rock n' roll glory with it. Since those earliest days, I've come to understand that the libertine, pirate ship mentality I found so seductive during my time in a rock band is pretty much a staple of most newsrooms, particularly at the local level. What's more, it's accompanied by a slightly better paycheck (although often only slightly).

Over the past several years though, something has changed. Drastically. And I'm not sure whether it's me, or television news, or both.

With the exception of the period immediately following 9/11, which saw the best characteristics of television journalism shocked back into focus and the passion of even the most jaded and cynical of its practitioners return like a shot of adrenaline to the heart, the profession I once loved and felt honored to be a part of has lost its way.

I say this with the knowledge of implied complicity: I continued to draw a salary from stations at the local level and national networks long after I had noticed an unsettling trend in which real news was being regularly abandoned in favor of, well, crap. I may not have drank the Kool-aid, but I did take the money. I may have been uncomfortable with a lot of what I was putting on the air, but I was comfortable in the life that it provided me. I just figured, screw it, most people don't like their jobs; shut up and do what you're told, or at least try to. Besides, I told myself, what the hell else do you know how to do?

That attitude began to change in April of 2006 -- when I found out that I had a tumor the size of a pinball inside my head.

I was working for CNN at the time, a job I had been proud to accept three years earlier as CNN was in my mind the gold-standard of television journalism. I readily admit that it was Time-Warner's medical plan that provided me the best care possible for the removal of the tumor and during my subsequent recovery, but following my operation, what had been clawing at my insides for years finally began to come to the surface. TV news wasn't the least bit fulfilling anymore, and I either needed to get out of it once and for all or find an outlet for my nascent iconoclastic tendencies.

So I started a blog.

I did it mostly to pass the time, hone my writing skills, resurrect my voice a little, and keep my mind sharp following the surgery. As is the case with many online journals, not a soul other than myself and a few close friends and family were even aware of what I was doing, much less read my stuff regularly. I thought nothing of returning to work at the end of my medical leave while continuing to write online. Really, who the hell knew who I was? Who cared what I had to say?

As it would turn out, over time, more than a few people.

My admittedly worthless opinions on pop culture, politics, the media and my personal past were quickly linked by sites like Fark, Gawker and Pajiba and I found my readership growing exponentially. During this time, I still didn't consider telling my superiors at CNN what I was doing on the side, simply because, having never been provided with an employee handbook, I hadn't seen a pertinent rule and never signed any agreement stipulating that I wouldn't write on my own time. I hadn't divulged my place of work and wasn't writing about what went on at the office. The views expressed on my blog, Deus Ex Malcontent, were mine and mine alone. I represented no one but myself, and I didn't make a dime doing it.

For 20 months after starting DXM, I continued to work as a producer on American Morning, one of many charged with putting together the show. During that time, I received consistently favorable reviews (while in Atlanta I was told that I was well on my way to becoming an executive producer) and, more importantly, neither my credibility nor objectivity was ever called into question. Like anyone who considers him or herself a respectable news professional, whatever my personal opinions were, they were checked at the door when I walked into work. Having grown up in a household in which the highest ideals of journalism were never more than a conversation away -- my father was an old-school investigative reporter -- I knew full well that you couldn't avoid having opinions and viewpoints, but you never let them get in the way of your journalistic responsibility

As far as CNN knew, I was a valued employee, albeit one with almost no say in the day-to-day editorial decisions on American Morning. This held true even as I began contributing columns to the Huffington Post, giving my writing more exposure than ever before.

Then, last Monday afternoon, I got a call from my boss, Ed Litvak.

Ed, seeming to channel Bill Lumbergh from Office Space, informed me of that which I was already very well aware: that my name was "attached to some, uh, 'opinionated' blog posts" circulating around the internet. I casually admitted as much and was then informed of something I didn't know: that I could be fired outright for this offense. 24 hours later, I was. During my final conversation with Ed Litvak and a representative from HR, they hammered home a single line in the CNN employee handbook which states that any writing done for a "non-CNN outlet" must be run through the network's standards and practices department. They asked if I had seen this decree. As a matter of fact I had, but only about a month previously, when I stumbled across a copy of that handbook on someone's desk and thumbed through it. I let them know exactly what I had thought when I read the rule, namely that it was staggeringly vague and couldn't possibly apply to something as innocuous as a blog. (I didn't realize until later that CNN had canned a 29-year-old intern for having the temerity to write about her work experiences -- her positive work experiences -- in a password-protected online journal a year earlier.) I told both my boss and HR representative that a network which prides itself on being so internet savvy -- or promotes itself as such, ad nauseam -- should probably specify blogging and online networking restrictions in its handbook. I said that they can't possibly expect CNN employees, en masse, to not engage in something as popular and timely as blogging if they don't make themselves perfectly clear.

My HR rep's response: "Well, as far as we know, you're the only CNN employee who's blogging under his own name."

It took self-control I didn't know I had to keep from laughing, considering that I could've named five people off the top of my head who blog without hiding their identities.

Uh-huh, as far as you know.

When I asked, just out of curiosity, who came across my blog and/or the columns in the Huffington Post, the woman from HR answered, "We have people within the company whose job is specifically to research this kind of thing in regard to employees."

Jesus, we have a Gestapo?

A few minutes later, I was off the phone and out of a job. No severance. No warning (which would've been a much smarter proposition for CNN as it would've put the ball effectively in my court and forced me to decide between my job or the blog). No nothing. Just, go away.

Right before I hung up, I asked for the "official grounds" for my dismissal, figuring the information might be important later. At first they repeated the line about not writing anything outside of CNN without permission, but HR then made a surprising comment: "It's also, you know, the nature of what you've been writing."

And right there I knew that CNN's concern wasn't so much that I had been writing as what I'd been writing. Whether a respected and loyal CNN producer of four years, like myself, could've gotten off with a warning had I chosen to write about, say, my favorite pasta sauce recipes, who knows. I'm dead sure though that my superiors never concerned themselves with my ability or inability to remain objective at work, given my strong opinions; they worried only about an appearance of bias (specifically, a liberal bias), and apparently they worried about it more than any potential fallout from firing a popular blogger with an audience that was already large and was sure to grow much larger when news of his firing put him in the national spotlight.

It's probably right about now that I should make something perfectly clear: I'm not naive -- I always understood that CNN, like any big company, might be apt to fire whoever it damn well pleases so long as the law remains intact at the end of the day.

Should they have fired me though?

Probably not, and only arrogant myopia would make them think otherwise.

As soon as the official word came down, I picked up the phone and called a friend of mine named Jacki Schechner. CNN junkies will recognize her as a former internet reporter for the network, one who pulled double-duty on American Morning and The Situation Room -- that is until the day she was taken out into the figurative woods without any warning and given the Old Yeller treatment. CNN's willingness to fire someone like Jacki tells you everything you need to know about how backward the network's thinking is when it comes to new media. It pays more lip-service to bloggers and their internet realm than any other mainstream media outlet, but in the end that's really all it is -- lip-service. Jacki was not only popular in internet circles, she had forged personal relationships with most of the big names in the blogosphere and knew her stuff inside and out. Inevitably though, CNN -- particularly American Morning -- chose to wear down and ultimately piss away this asset in favor of an on-air acquisition that fell right in line with the tried-and-true "TV" sententia: Veronica De La Cruz. The network never considered for a minute that new media might behave differently than television -- that the regular rules might not apply.

And that's the problem.

As far as CNN (and to be fair, the mainstream TV press in general) believes, it still sits comfortably at the top of the food chain, unthreatened by any possibility of a major paradigm shift being brought to bear by a horde of little people with laptops and opinions. Although the big networks recognize the need to appeal to bloggers, they don't fear them -- and that means they don't respect them. Corporate-think dictates that the mainstream television press as a monstrous multi-headed hydra is the ultimate news authority and therefore is in possession of the one and only hotline to the ghosts of Murrow and Sevareid. Sure those bloggers are entertaining, but in the end they're really just insects who either feed off the carcasses of news items vetted through various networks or, when they do break stories, want nothing more than to see themselves granted an audience by the kingmakers on television.

This, of course, is horseshit.

During my last couple of years as a television news producer, I watched the networks try to recover from a six year failure to bring truth to power (the political party in power being irrelevant incidentally; the job of the press is to maintain an adversarial relationship with the government at all times) and what's worse, to pretend that they had a backbone all along. I watched my bosses literally stand in the middle of the newsroom and ask, "What can we do to not lead with Iraq?" -- the reason being that Iraq, although an important story, wasn't always a surefire ratings draw. I was asked to complete self-evaluations which pressed me to describe the ways in which I'd "increased shareholder value." (For the record, if you're a rank-and-file member of a newsroom, you should never under any circumstances even hear the word "shareholders," let alone be reminded that you're beholden to them.) I watched the media in general do anything within reason to scare the hell out of the American public -- to convince people that they were about to be infected by the bird flu, poisoned by the food supply, or eaten by sharks. I marveled at our elevation of the death of Anna Nicole Smith to near-mythic status and our willingness to let the airwaves be taken hostage by every permutation of opportunistic degenerate from a crying judge to a Hollywood hanger-on with an emo haircut. I watched qualified, passionate people worked nearly to death while mindless talking heads were coddled. I listened to Lou Dobbs play the loud-mouthed fascist demagogue, Nancy Grace fake ratings-baiting indignation, and Glenn Beck essentially do nightly stand-up -- and that's not even taking into account the 24/7 Vaudeville act over at Fox News. I watched The Daily Show laugh not at our mistakes but at our intentional absurdity.

I mentioned calling Jacki Schechner -- so what did she tell me?

"Think about how frustrated and disillusioned most of the American Morning staff is."

Not simply frustrated and disillusioned, but outright miserable.

And then she reminded me that in the past year-and-a-half, nearly 20 mid to high-level people have left American Morning; many of them quit with no other job to go to -- they just wanted out of the business. That speaks goddamned volumes, not simply about the show but about the state of the entire profession.

CNN fired me, and did it without even a thought to the power that I might wield as an average person with a brain, a computer, and an audience. The mainstream media doesn't believe that new media can embarrass them, hurt them or generally hold them accountable in any way, and they've never been more wrong.

I'm suddenly in a position to do all three, and I know now that this is what I've been working toward the last few years of my career.

Awhile back I was watching a great documentary on the birth of the punk scene, it closed with former Black Flag frontman and current TV host Henry Rollins saying these words: "All it takes is one person to stand up and say 'fuck this.'"

I truly hope so, because I'm finally doing just that.

And I should've done it a long time ago.


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Anonymous said...

Can't wait, Chez.

Anonymous said...

How did you feel about Kiran Chetry and John Roberts replacing Soledad and Miles? Do you feel that move was the right one? Is Chetry hard news material, and is John Roberts impossible to deal with?

I've always thought CNN was a place where everyone got along and was happy. At least that's the impression Jon Klein likes to give everyone.

Anonymous said...

As you say, an audience. Why fire a news producer with a FAN BASE? So thoughtless and counter- intuitive. Can't wait to see what you do next. Hope it's a book. A bestseller. A memoir. Whatever it is, don't forget that baby needs a new onsie!

d said...

That's a reason to get up in the morning! Go get 'em.

Web Dunce said...

Wow. Pretty scary yet not surprising in the least. I always knew the business was cut throat, but Jesus Christ, are they really that out of touch? Red flag - "The Best Political Team on Television" - yeah, right. That would be Stewart and Colbert! The only thing left to say is good night and good luck.

Anonymous said...

I've held off in joining the flurry of folks sending you a "go get 'em" message of love and encouragement (mostly because I know you will).

I can, however, tell you that I'm excited to see what you bring to life, and what it will bring to you from this day forward.

~Mrs. Disco

litelysalted said...

Bravo! Drinks on me, next time you're in my neck of the woods. And a club soda for Jayney, of course.

V said...

I stand and say "Fuck This" with you man! It sad to hear. But as we all know, a man with your talent, will go much farther than anything CNN could provide! Much love!

B said...

The news world doesn't understand that it NEEDS people like you, who think and act like you to balance out the biased bullshit we are constantly fed. CNN will probably regret their decision. Whatever you do dedice to do, good luck.


DBNA said...

"So no more running. I aim to misbehave..." Amen, Cptn. Reynolds. I have a feeling you'll be channeling your inner Mal very soon, and I can't wait to see the results. You tried to play ball, to work within the system and all that. Now let them see what happens when you decide to Cry Havoc...

I intend to channel my inner Jayne, soon, give Print the big middle finger, and join you. My battle cry being "Shiny. Let's be bad guys...."

Nemo Me Impune Lacessit (No One Assails Me With Impunity). You do us all proud, lad!

rlr260 said...

I've been reading your blog semi-regularly for the past several months, having found you through Pajiba. As a matter of fact, I spent a good part of the past weekend reading from your blog's archives. I find your writing incisive and thoughtful. I especially enjoy your capacity for cutting through a lot of BS to make your point. I was sorry to hear of your termination. I look forward to seeing what you will do next and where you will go in this new phase of your career.

tamara said...

Holy shit! I can't wait to see what you've got in store...
As words fail me, I think I'll let Britt Daniel of Spoon do the talking for me...he sums it up beautifully in The Underdog, "You got no fear of the underdog/That's why you will not survive." CNN won't know what hit them...

Anonymous said...

I will proudly sew my star of david onto my sleeve...

thank you for standing up for us all.


sparksinner said...

Goddamn. Whoop some ass.

I hope that in the end CNN deeply regrets shitcanning you in such a sloppy way. That's really what gives you the opening to launch whatever you have in mind: the sloppy HR. If they'd canned you according to S.O.P. you'd have very little recourse. But then they tried to be nice guys about it and that opened the door.

So kick that fucker down for us.

Anonymous said...

It's about time someone had the temerity to hold them accountable for the daily hogwash they try to force feed us as news.

I sincerely hope your words have a far-reaching and consequential effect.

They need to have their feet held to the fire for the unconscionable liberties they take with deciding that trash, (Anna Nicole, Paris, Spears, Lohan etc.), is newsworthy and what the viewing public is looking for non-stop, day, after day, after day, ad nauseaum.

There are very serious situations we NEED to hear about and we need serious JOURNALISTS in place to recognize and report them, not these entertainment Bozos who keep trying to peddle their trashy infotainment and call it news!

I think CNN should take a closer look at their so called managers. I think yours made a big mistake and they will have to pay the price for his short sightedness.


Anonymous said...

Terrific! Fight the power!

Jacque said...

You are a goddamn champion. Do us proud!

MataHari said...

Audentis Fortuna Iuvat.

Give' em hell Chez.

Sean said...

I'd just like to echo the very resounding sentiment that's ringing from this piece:

I absolutely cannot wait to see what you've got in store.

I've been a regular reader since the "One Little Indian" piece, and I find your writing to be captivating, even when I disagree with you (instances of which are rare, and generally slight). I think you do possess the talent, intelligence and righteous cynicism to make some real waves in the media. I can't wait see who they knock over.

Cheers to you and your budding family.

Anonymous said...

This could be much bigger than even you've given thought to. I'm with you. We're all with you. CNN made a major error in judgment which will bite them in the ass in 3... 2... 1...

Juju said...

well done... Damn the man!

DNA Cowboy said...

First off, thanks. Now I have to watch the Serenity again.

Second, while the loss of a paycheck is a bitch, the loss of this particular paymaster doesn't seem to be. My sincere hope is that you can capitalize on this, and leave a little scorched earth behind doing it.

Kick ass and take names!

Blade said...

You've got a following, Chez. I can't speak for all of us, but I have a feeling that I do speak for a large quantity of us, when I say that We are behind you, and We would stand with you.

A2racers said...

Let's go be bad guys.

Keep it up Chez, posting you to all guilds as well as Dooce.

james said...

Good Luck - but remember you do have that kid to feed

amy said...

This is what you are here for.

Bring them to their knees.

Amy Starkey

kelley said...

Re: the employee manual/policy manual - so what did they say about that? When you pointed out that you'd not been given one?

George said...

Good luck, brother. Don't be afraid and keep throwing punches and kicking and screaming for the rest of us.

N. said...

I second Blade:

We are Chez, and We are Legion.

Anonymous said...

CNN, you poor, pathetic, corporate entity. You have just dug yourselves a grave, built yourselves a coffin, willingly laid in it, and then nailed it quite securely shut. Complete dumbasses.

They call themselves the "Best Political Team on Television," but honestly?, what kind of politics is it to fire a worker for having an opinion? An opinion separate from his job, no less! This is turning into 1984.

What was CNN trying to prove? That even the most valuable of employees are expendable if they pose even a tiny threat?

Chez, I'm happy for you. They may wield legions of employees too scared for their jobs to stand up, but you wield legions of humans too pissed to sit down.

Fuck this.

Hope said...

You have balls of steel!!
Good for you! Thanks for giving me someone in journalism to respect.

Mark said...

As a recent journalism grad, I can say there's actually quite a good amount of people out there entering the industry with roughly the same viewpoint as you. So what if I chose a degree in an industry I think is completely off-track? Bring the suckers down, cause we're ready to build it back up the way it should be.

Prophet of Ra said...

I feel like you just wrote the final chapter to part 2 of a 3 part book. All the writing, all the stories lead up to this moment. Now the future is left open, and very promising.

Great post

Mika aka Xeyli said...

Someone like you needs to work for himself, free to speak your mind the way you see fit. I have no doubt you will get there.

Adam said...

"It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything."

Applicable, I think.

Also, get some Google Ads up in this piece so I can passively contribute to the cause by continuing to check the site religiously. I mean, you can't buy lye on good looks and promises, and lye is the crucial ingredient.

DETHKLOK said...

Say Your Goodbyes
That was your life
You'll pay for your penance
Laser Cannon Deth Sentence!

De de de de de de de de DIE!
De de de de de de de de DIE!
De de de de de de de de DIE!
De de de de de de de de DIE!
De de de de de de de de DIE!
De de de de de de de de DIE!

25 in Burque, NM said...

I came across your site via 'I Don't Like You In That Way' (so darn mean it's delicious) a few weeks ago and since then have made my way through all your posts. What draws me to your writing, aside from the emotions, be it clever and genuinely funny or heartbreaking and stark, is how seamless and effortless it reads, like a good novel. I would like to thank you for replacing that fucking useless and addictive Perez Hilton with more substantial daily 'net reading. P.S. What's with that awesome vocabulary? You're like a friggin' grammatical genius!

Jennifer Sulkin said...

Nicely done, man. Can't wait to see how this all pans out. Very, VERY curious to see what the next few months have in store for you.

I had a brief, amusing idea- if a book deal, column, or radio or TV show comes out of this, you could call it "The Chez Situation", seems amusingly appropriate.

BTW, if you need any graphic design or photography done in the next whenever, with whatever projects you're working on now, let me know, it would be my pleasure.

Peter Santiago said...


Great post. CNN is a fucking mess, starting with that pumpkin head Dobbs.

Nevertheless, I enjoy your insightful writings as well as many of my friends. Look forward to your new endeavors. I'm certain they will be literary and perhaps even video on the interwebs, but what ever it is I'll be watching.

A revolutionary has been born!


demondoll said...

Give it to 'em good, Chez.

Aaron X said...

Holy crap Chez, I'm so glad I found you my friend, because we are of the same mind I believe.

I turn on CNN yesterday to see a half-hour long broadcast on how to pick up chicks, CNN has basically produced some infomercial, that someone up the ladder decided white males will be clamoring to hear about apparently. So a couple of idiots selling a program for $3000 a pop teaching losers how to pick up loser chicks are now getting the kind of air time that would cost them about 8 million if they tried to by that time from the network, they obviously know someone at CNN. It's utterly inconceivable that anyone on the news desk actually believes that that kind of ridiculous tripe rises to the level of being newsworthy.

Every time I turn around its one of these shows taking up time that I and everyone else who turns on CNN should be learning about what's happening in the world, because that's why we turn on CNN, to see the news. That's why I became a paid subscriber to CNN's Pipeline, which went down the drain when they figured out they could make more money selling commercials on broadband than selling the actual news content. When I paid for The Pipeline I was told I was going to get 24 hours of live news, four live feeds to be exact, from around the world continuously. But what I really got was maybe a couple of feeds for maybe 12 hours a day, some of which were just cameras set up to watch the harbor in Cuba or the skyline in New York or LA. Now I appreciated those cameras, but I would much prefer to of been getting feeds from Europe and Asia and Africa and everywhere else the news was happening while the folks at CNN in Atlanta were sleeping, but I didn't get that, I got screwed by the folks at CNN corporate.

I also got lots of misinformation, like video footage of the inlet to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, with a captions that read Miami, and when I informed CNN of their mistake they did not correct it. Now I imagine many folks around the world don't know the difference between Fort Lauderdale and Miami, but the fact is they are different cities in different counties 25 miles from one another, and I would expect the people of CNN to know that and make the distinction. I watched another story on the Pipeline that had a college professor making feeble and unacceptable excuses for Franklin Delano Roosevelt's inaction when he was presented evidence of the Holocaust and the extermination of the Jews. CNN actually created a story with the help of this expert that conveniently explained away FDR's failure to take action to stop the genocide. I complained about that story as well, as I imagine many others did because the story was pulled almost immediately.

I remember a time when I had respect for CNN, but that was before Lou Dobbs was allowed to go on is anti-immigrant/illegal immigrant screeds night after night, week after week, month after month, year after year. The guy reports virtually the same exact story every day for the preponderance of the hour, and maybe spend the last 10 to 15 minutes of the show talking about other issues, minor issues like Iraq and Afghanistan. I remember when he used to go after corporate America, but now he just attacks Republicans and Democrats equally and tells folks to register independent, which is basically silencing your political voice in America. Lou isn't reporting the news most of the time, he's manufacturing issues, and beating it into the minds of the American people, like some propagandist. Dobbs was given a bully pulpit from which he scapegoats Latino illegals and make them the cause of all America's ills, because it's safe in corporate America to pick on the least powerful and demonize them, and why not, they can't fight back.

And Glenn Beck, Jesus Christ, is there a greater pander known to man? The guy is a God damn disgrace, a filthy caricature of a human being in conservative clothing, he should be tarred and feathered and run out of town on the rail, and then hired by Fox news/propaganda, where they can fawn all of her him as the second coming of conservative media's Jesus. I turn on CNN and this punk is interviewing Ann Coulter, this is what CNN has become?

Is that you John Wayne? Is this me?

And of course we have the shameful inexcusable behavior of CNN during this election cycle. Anyone who understands journalism and has been watching CNN for the last three months knows exactly which Democratic candidate the network is giving preference to, and I find it totally unacceptable. At times it's so blatant that one would think the people doing the writing were some of the nut job bloggers out there who pretend to be objective in order to deceive their readers. See Talkleft and the lawyers over there pretending to be objective while they promote Hillary Clinton.

At least the New York Times has the ethical integrity to come out and endorse a candidate openly, so we know where the old codgers on their editorial board stand, but the corporation that oversees and controls CNN would rather put forward this limping pretense of objectivity, in some apparent effort to quietly sway voters who don't realize they're being manipulated.

Dude, we've gotta make these bastards pay, and pay and pay and pay, because that's the only way you get their attention, when you start taking money out of their corporate pockets.

Fight the Power My Brother!

denesteak said...

I am so happy for you. Well, congratulations on the baby, and I wish you luck in everything you do. I'll keep reading.

Calitri said...

I blame the advent of the 24 hour news channel - not for your predicament obviously, but the current state of an industry called news. There simply are not that many new worthy stories out there. Not sure who's even watching CNN and the like besides my one politically-obsessed, former Maryland delegate uncle and he's just reliving his glory years. When I find their viewers, I'll make sure to throw a tomato down their pants.

Kick some ass like seabass, buddy. You know we're with you.

Viva la Revolution!

Anonymous said...

First of all, I worked for CNN once and have many friends who do and did, having grown up in Atlanta. It's a crap company to work for and everyone knows it. I've never met someone who worked there who could be called "happy" with his/her job.

On the other hand, CNN is battling a reputation for having an excessively "liberal" news slant. Honestly, reading over some of what you've written, I could see how it would be a problem that a CNN producer (a job that is perceived to have at least some say over news content) is so obviously and unabashedly, well, liberal. Yes, it sucks for you and no, it probably never would have really created a problem, particularly since you weren't on air, but if you did reach executive producer status and had such a clear personal bias, it might turn me off of whatever you're behind (and I speak as someone who's pretty much right down the middle politically, like millions of Americans).

Just a thought. I'm sure you'll find some other line of work that's much cooler than CNN. Good luck and try to put all this behind you emotionally as soon as possible. I think you'll be a lot happier.

Logan5 said...

Something tells me you're going to be a thorn in the side of CNN and the mass media for a long time to come. Good for you.

Anonymous said...

I am horrified, but not shocked by your story. The day that News became a business as opposed to the public service it was originally treated as was the beginning of the downward slide!
In reality the only way that news would actually work is to eliminate all commercials and advertising so they are not beholding to them. The corporate takeover and influence is bordering the definition of Fascism.

I have book marked your blog and will read it regularly with anticipation.....good luck! :-)

Derek said...

We're here. Use us.

achilles3 said...

fucking twits

"It's amazing when you realize you still have the ability to surprise yourself."

Throw in V for Vendetta, light up a J and rest assured that your kid is gonna have one kick ass lesson about the first fucking amendment coming his/her way:-)

keep on keepin on, Chez!

Anonymous said...

Just read your excellent post on Huffington and am looking forward to going back and reading past posts. You've made my day with your honesty and the hope you give me that maybe change is on the way.

Congratulations to you for seeing the gift in this situation and thank you so much for sharing your insights!!!


kanye said...

Since music is such an important part of your life, Chez, I'm curious: Once you took it all in, once you'd fully realized and embraced the totality of the situation, what did you reach for? What piece of music started autoplaying in your head?

Just curious.

ThinkThankThunk said...

This could be a railroad spike in the coffin of the fifth estate... best of luck to you in your fight, sir (and nice use of the Rollins quote, much more apropos than the classic "I'm mad as hell, etc...")

Anonymous said...

Chez, it's not much but I have sent an e-mail to CNN chastising them for the unfair treatment and will never darken thier site again.

Cole said...

You've been slapped on the back plenty, as you should be, but now I'm going to pass on the effect you've had.

I just deleted as my #1 news source. I've always used it for the expediency -- often living outside the US, the informative page format full of links was useful -- but I'm tired of relying on a source of news that seems to be trying best to emulate the industry's worst example, Fox.

Oh, and by the way, I am 24 and never watch TV news except in a national disaster -- the Internet is more efficiently informative and comparatively more reliable.

Best of luck to you (and I've just bookmarked your blog).

StefHunnyP said...

You make me want to be a better blogger.

Anonymous said...

Good luck, Chez..

Though I don't think you need it.
You made that already.

So I wish you that what every writer needs:
May the force of discipline be with you.

Best wishes to the Missus, the Todler and yourself.


Appwitch said...

Absolutely lovely. The best of luck to you.

Peter said...

pls digg it here and if anyone can post to reddit it would be great !

Anonymous said...

I loved that documentary!

Let's go bust something up. Tee hee.

I am telling you, this is a good thing.

you know who Sir, in Indiana....

Al said...

*giggles uncontrollably*

It is great to see that instead of knocking you down this is lighting you up!

CNN needs people with spines and passion, not more of the "how can we be more like Fox" crap they've been doing for years now. They had one and slipped you the shiv instead of giving you a forum. Screw 'em.

Thom Singer said...

Great post and a great "voice" in your writing.

I think big companies, not just the media, are not understanding the way the internet, blogs, social media, etc... are having an impact. This is not a fad. Repeat. This in not a fad.

Thanks for you words. I want to go blog something important now!

heather (errantdreams) said...

An elegant dissection of TV journalism. I'm glad to see this is kick-starting the 'real you.'

I remember that when I was growing up (30 years ago) the assumption was that if you wanted to know what was going on in the world, you watched the evening news. Now I think of those shows as time-wasters filled with fluff reports, fear-mongering, and agenda-pushing. Not that journalists as a whole were somehow perfect and squeaky-clean before, but it definitely seems to have gotten worse.

Doug Meacham said...

Chez, what an incredible story. Thanks for sharing it and giving us a glimpse into the way CNN "thinks". BTW, they are not alone in their approach to blogging and other forms of new media. Having gone through an ugly layoff last spring, I can tell you that the future is full of opportunities that are hard to see from behind the corporate wall. It may not feel like it now and CNN certainly doesn't realize it, but they did you one helluva favor.

Best wishes!

Ashley Lichty said...

Wow. Can I just say Chez: thank you. As a very casual observer of the news media, I thought it odd how the past few years the stupidest things seemed to make such big headlines.

I was afraid that America itself was becoming even flightier and empty-headed then we already were! Now I have another theory to consider!

Considering I was a Mass Communications major in college, I am very ashamed at myself for not considering the power the media had and how they wield. Ratings, ratings, ratings is the word of the day (or the word of EVERY day) for news media, huh?

Here's to the power of the people and the Internet to get the real TRUTH out there.

I'm sorry that you had to get canned, but at the same time kind of glad that you are now more free to be a voice of reason.

Nice work!

Anonymous said...

Cable news networks are the reason I cancelled my cable. All I want is news, and if CNN and FOX aren't going to give it, I'll find it elsewhere.

Joe said...

Nice inside account Chez, thanks. Over the years, did your bosses seem to pre-ordain which candidates got positive and negative coverage based on what seemed to be a coordinated plan?

My brother was a tv news director for many years and he says the idea of controlled media is laughable.

Yet read a thread of this Ron Paul blog, back when it was more open-minded and civil (you wouldn't believe it now).

Where do you land?

There, I said it said...

Best of lucks!

Can't wait to see what you'll do next.

Greetings from Mexico.

Ed said...

TV news has always been quick to fire people for even the smallest of PR blips. This has, nor will ever change. Period. The only people that have even a flicker of padding when it comes to this are well-established faces.

If this clause was in a standard broadcast contract, they'd claim that they own all rights to the media you created while employed with them.

All that said, it's still unwarranted, especially because you kept the name of the organization a secret. Best of luck in the future! I'll defiantly keep an eye to the blog.

Anonymous said...


This is THE key line of this entire blog:

"All comments must be approved by the blog author."

Which means you don't have the balls to print anyone telling you the truth... you are an arrogant fool who would rather lob criticism from the outside than to try and change things from the inside.

It's your blog, you make the rules... just like it's Time Warner's network, Time Warner make the rule.

I actually agree with much of what you criticize about TV news, but you ignore the positives that TV news achieves everyday... still.

I'll check back later... but I'll be shocked, yes SHOCKED if you post this after 59 straight posts from your sycophantic fans.

Signed Peter, a still employed TV news producer.

Anonymous said...

I'm a 30-year-old male. I don't own a television. I've been programming since before kindergarten. In short, I'm one of those "new media" folks who is always connected and uses the internet like a third hand.

For most of my life, *they* have ruled the world. The corporate interests, the bottom liners, the political aristocracy. They lie, they cheat, they change the rules as they see fit and ignore them when they can't. They operate from privilege - "private law", separate from what they enforce on everyone else. The major media used to challenge them; now, major media is part of the problem.

It's time - it's past time - to change the game. Most of my generation never got it; the new generation does. This is not the old world, where communications and information were controlled by publishers, newspapers, and the chosen few. This is the new world, and information is out of their control. They couldn't stop DSS. They couldn't stop the Katrina reporting. And it's time they realize they can't stop the truth.

Igne natura renovateur integra, Chez. Burn 'em down.

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

Not for nothin' and I'm sure you've heard this before, but seriously--you should write a book. A big, fat tell all. Call it "Fuck This."

Maybe things'll change. Then again, I'm too cynical to really believe that. But write the book anyway, I'd read it.

Anonymous said...

Fuck CNN and their fascist hierarchy.

They clearly make you sacrifice your personal expression for crumbs at the trough.

God bless Amerika.

Francine McKenna said...

So glad to have found you via Dennis Howlett. Congratulations on obtaining your freedom. Go wild!

Caroline said...

I'm so sorry for this bullshit you're going through, and so, so sad to think another person with a viewpoint and the insight to share it has been taken away from a place he deserves.

The state of this country is sickening.

But I know you'll do well in the next chapter of your journey.


Anonymous said...

"...and Fox canceled Firefly."

Dusty said...

My money is on alternative media. The MSM is dying, I hope. Print media is anyway.

They hate us for our freedom!queue the Braveheart soundtrack

Autone said...

As a journalist you are supposed to remain neutral and report the news not color it. News is information, Commentary is for the Editorial page or hacks like Cafferty.

Grow up - you want to work for a big corporation follow the rules. If you don't like it - start your own network and make your own rules.

What a poor excuse for your own downfall.

Anonymous said...

Ye gods, and I thought I was the only one.

Anonymous said...

*shakes head*
And not one person mentions the dickwad running the shithole - Jon Klein. He's the problem.

Chaz, write a book and spill your guts!

toastie said...

Good for you...well, I know how maddening and sick it feels to suddenly to be out of work...but I hope your career trajectory, while now altered, is a more fulfilling one. I'm sure you did good work at AM. I checked out of cable news a year or two ago for all the reasons you mention; just NPR and assorted non-MSM news sites now. Best of luck...

Anonymous said...


I appreciate your views on the inside workings at CNN. I really don’t see much of a difference between CNN and MSNBC; they have both sold their souls long ago as far as I am concerned.

They were worried about an “appearance of bias?” From what I have seen recently there is much more than an appearance of bias in regards to the primary election on the Democratic side. They make no effort to hide the fact that Obama is their candidate of choice.

I’d like to hear your views on the way CNN has marketed Anderson Cooper. I used to like him, but the more I watch him, the less impressed I am. They have continued to force feed him to us at an alarming speed; what’s the deal there?

katy said...

This may be the best way for me to share my feedback with CNN, because if they're at all smart they're watching this.

I have finally given up CNN after having it be the main news presence in my life for a good ten years. I also used to see them as the benchmark for quality news and had no reason to watch anyone else. I think the first big change that had me questioning this was when Fox News began pulling in higher ratings. CNN responded by essentially turning themselves into Fox News, at first in looks and then in content (way to pander to the mindless masses!). After a few years of watching this descent, I was done.

I was disappointed to lose my morning routine, coffee and two hours of CNN, but it was ok because I still had their website. This was my home page for many years, in a way that felt slightly addictive. In the last few years I watched the quality of this also decrease, and the final straw of ridding myself of CNN for good came when I realized that everyday I was faced with at least two headlines of horrible stories about children in some sort of peril. As I had already started looking at other news sites I knew that CNN was the only one presenting me with these awful, tragic stories. Having become a mother to two small children in the last three years I couldn't take this daily deluge. In addition to this I was very resentful of their obvious manipulation of my emotions, and that they used abused children to do this. Disgusting.

I have been free of my CNN habit for about a year now and don't miss it at all. Chez, this is a blessing in disguise. Run with it.

czeltic girl said...

I'm sorry this all had to happen to you, but damn, I can't wait to see what you do next. Go get 'em. Show 'em how it's done right.

Anonymous said...

Sorry about the job... I knew this was coming and just thought you were aware and just didn't care. Every time you work in a big company they own everything you do, you can't talk bad about them etc. I would watch my back and get a copy of that manual. I wouldn't want corporate Amercian to try and silence one of my favorite bloggers.

dick_gozinia said...

So now that the CNN shackles are off...

Anderson Cooper.

He's like "Liberace Gay", right?

Anonymous said...

Well now you're fucked. No job, no health insurance. Bet you're wishing you had toe'd the party line now.
It all seems great now but give it a couple of months when you're making minimum wage at Starbucks and see how good all this freedom feels.

Chez said...

Just FYI there "Peter," the only comments that don't get printed are the ones that either don't make any sense or say things like "Hey, you suck." (Thankfully I haven't gotten too many of those.)

As for you essentially daring me not to censor you -- dude, you wanna look like a bitter jackass, far be it from me to stand in your way.

Duganz said...

Yeah, they fire you for blogging, but they let Wolf Blitzer ooze his myopic waste on blogs all day.

Dusty said...

Touche' Chez!

OT-Do you know why Jason Leopold is no longer writing for TruthOut? They sent out a very terse statement today to that effect.

Figured it wouldn't hurt to ask you...being in the 'bidness' and all... ;)

Anonymous said...

aron x said it all for me. Dobbs and Beck ought to be anthema to a news organization. You should show up on Stewart's show soon, and then I think you'll be able to have some choices. But I think you already made a choice when you started the blog.

trish said...

So wait a minute, the only choices are toe the company line or work at Starbucks?

Well aren't you a sad little son-of-a-bitch Anonymous.

Dusty said...

Troll meat-It's whats for dinner.

Tsk..tsk Anon..sounds like sour grapes on your end bro. And you are a vicious bitch aren't you?

That is a rhetorical question..

Anonymous said...

Here is how much CNN gives a rip. It is their response to my critique of Dobbsian demagoguery:
Thank you for the e-mail you sent to Lou Dobbs Tonight. This auto reply is your notification that we have received it.

While we are unable to personally reply to every e-mail, your comments are important to us, and we do read each and every one. Comments become part of the viewer response report that is prepared and made available each day to our producers and senior management. If you have mistakenly submitted a question or story idea through this comments section, please allow time for it to be tagged as such and routed to the appropriate persons for handling.

Again, thank you for contacting us, and please visit the attached links for more information on our anchors, programs and schedules:

Would you like additional information on our anchors?

Please visit our anchor bio section at

Anonymous said...

So you were fired from a job that you took as your right to push your left-wing, hate-America agenda on the public as "news."

Your self-centered navel-gazing (while well-written) is more evidence of the immaturity and general mediocrity of the "journalism" business.

You have just given me more confirmation for NEVER allowing CNN on any of my TV's.

Anonymous said... 6:36: CNN always sends out those auto-reply e-mails. I doubt anyone reads any of the feedback sent to them.

FYI Anderson Cooper's is the most offensive one.

Dusty said...

Never mind on the Jason Leopold question. I heard from the source himself what he's working on.

Good to see the rightwing nutjobs are well represented here on the comment thread! ;p

Anonymous said...

Good luck making a go of it in the brave new media world. Just like that old world you left, you'll have to differentiate yourself by producing content people want to consume -- and that's where it will get interesting. Is blogging about Britney's Spears' ongoing death spiral any different than a shrink talking about it on American Morning?

VOTAR said...

Chez, shame on you for SHOCKING the anonymous peter.

Anonymous said...

I can smell CNN's regret from here. Good luck to you in your future endeavours!

Anonymous said...

Wow Chez. Here's just one person who didn't know about your Blog until you were fired over it. May there be many more!

Also, the mass Media hydra has lost it's grip on this one. I get my news and information from less interest-dominated sources. Hopefully, many more will follow those steps as well.

Jax said...

Want to play "Name that Show?"

(We could make a habit of this.)

And now that the dust's settled a little, I should say it for public consumption...

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

While everyone maynot always agree on your opinions and veiws. I think everyone can agree here:
You are a man with a level of talent that CNN just couldn't handle. That's the bottom line.

As I read the last line of this story, I needed to turn the page and keep reading, I wanted to turn the page and keep reading.

I hate reading buth with your writings, I just can't stop.
That's talent.

Next chapter please!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I think this is the first time in the history of DXM that bloggers are throwing darts at each other ad nausuem because of your "tribute" to CNN. We're not all sycophants.

Very good Chez :)

Justin McClung said...

Sorry you had to figure out what your calling is the way you did. With that said, good luck. I find myself in the same situation other than I have not been fired. I write a blog more as therapy than to go negative (although I do find myself there sometimes). Good luck, Justin

Anonymous said...

P.S. Hey Dick:

Whether or not Anderson is Liberace gay, Charles Nelson Reilly gay, or Vin Diesel gay - what's your stupid point?

Anonymous said...

Long time lurker, long time fan, first time commenter.

Chez, I'm sorry you lost your job for doing something you obviously love, enjoy and are talented at. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a whole new, and more fulfilling career on the Web.

It is, after all, where it's at!

I've always wanted to know, and I hope you can clear this up, does CNN's big honchos, i.e. Klein put out a memo each morning on how to spin a Presidential candidate for the day (a la Fox News)?

It seems to me that the network is grossly slanted toward a certain candidate in the Democratic campaign. Tell me it's true, or I'm on the right path, and put my mind at rest.

You can bet they'll lose me as a viewer if it is so. Afterall, aren't the main tenets of journalists supposed to be fairness, unbiased objectivity?

Thanks Chez.

- Joseph, Washington D.C.

VOTAR said...


Charles Nelson Reilly, gay?

I feel so disillusioned.

Damn you, Sid and Marty Krofft! Damn you to hell!

Aaron X said...

Anderson Cooper is gay? No way!

Okay so maybe one of you Nancy boys who've had experience grappling with the Cooper can tell me, does the carpets match the drapes? :-)

Nothing turns me on more than a big Whitey Bush. :-)

Anonymous said...

@Joseph in Washington, D.C., I can’t believe that is still a question in your mind? CNN isn’t the only one; MSNBC has the same political slant. If they are trying to be like FOX, they have more than succeeded. Even goofy Geraldo has been more objective about the Democratic campaigns of Clinton and Obama than either CNN or MSNBC. In fact, I have given up on trying to comment to The Ticker because every time I say something negative, especially if it is true, about their “favorite” I get deleted.

Chez probably had to sign some type of agreement not to talk about certain things at CNN including anything about pushing a particular candidate or who is or isn’t gay. From what I understand Anderson isn’t the only one under suspicion.

Anonymous said...

Chez, answer this one. When Jacki Schechner refers to the low morale at AM, does she in any way attribute it to the throwing down the stairs of the O'Brien's for that Fox News bubblegum chick and John Roberts? I'd like to hear some specifics on just how all of the changes on American Morning went down.

Anonymous said...

@anon.8:54PM; I'd like an answer to that as well.

Anonymous said...

"So you were fired from a job that you took as your right to push your left-wing, hate-America agenda on the public as "news."

I wrote that.
Congratulations for publishing it.
I take back the part about "navel-gazing."

Anonymous said...

John Mayer said it best
"Waiting on the world to change"

Chez, you are the change.

It's just that simple.

Anonymous said...

So tell us, How do you really feel about CNN? I don't think it's all that clear....

And tell us, what's next for you?

Anonymous said...

Honestly, how long are we really going to have to wait for the book?
It's really good. For God's sakes, will you run with it now??

Anonymous said...

To "Anonymous at 8:44p.m.": Well, you're probably right and Chez is likely still under certain clauses before he can really spill the beans. I definitely would not like to get him in further trouble, so thanks for your input.

I couldn't agree more with you about CNN and MSNBC. There's only one anchor on MSNBC who seems to know which profession he's in and the boundaries of the job he has to respect: Dan Abrams. I think the only one who comes close on CNN is Lou Dobbs (but he's a character for another discussion on another day.)

Oh, and I have also given up on The Ticker too. I've been bashed senselessly during the few times when my comments have been approved. I have always been polite and on-topic, never slamming Obama. However, the CNN-bias has just infuriated me to no end.

I've sworn never to read The Ticker, or watch my once-favorite show, The Situation Room. Wolf Blitzer & Co. have sunk to new lows. Gloria Borger and Bill Schneider are the worst of the lot.

It's pretty sad when the one entity we depend on for unfiltered news and information - the media - have dictated the outcome of quite possibly the most important election of our country's history.

- Joseph, Washington D.C.

Anonymous said...

Hey Chez,
just go for it.
You've already held yourself back long enough.
A blog won't pay the bills.
How you use that blog just might.

VOTAR said...

A word of caution, amigo al amigo: You've got the mic, and the room's attention. I think it would be a bad idea, despite the enthusiasm of even the well-meaning, supportive, and naturally curious fans here, to dish dirt, confirm rumors, or substantiate theories. That would instantly turn this blog into another cog in the wheels of the tabloid machine you just escaped from. It would be a shame to waste this moment on anything that could be mistaken by anyone else for the sour grapes of a disgruntled whistle blower, or that could quickly degenerate into a salacious feeding frenzy of irrelevant gossip.

Put another way, in the immortal words of Han Solo:

Keep your distance... but don't look like you're keeping your distance. ...I don't know, fly casual.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you did not sign a non-disclosure.
I have to wonder what's missing from the story.
I guess we'll all just have to wait for the book to find out what we all really want to know.

Aaron X said...

Obama 08, YES WE CAN!!!

Anonymous said...

You really did not realize that you could get Dooced for blogging? What, have you been living in a cave?

Anonymous said...

@Joseph in Washington, D.C; You are welcome. Although Chez probably is, as you said, “under certain clauses,” I still think his information is very revealing and it supports what I have suspected and heard about CNN for quite some time. I appreciate his courage and hope to hear a lot more about this in the future.

I’d like to preface my comments by saying that I have voted both Republican and Democrat and I do not have a candidate of choice in this election.

You are right about Dan Abrams, he is the only one with any balls on MSNBC. I also agree with you about Lou Dobbs, although, his character is questionable at times. At least his isn’t afraid to disagree with Jon Klein. You know Klein would dump him in a NY minute if he could. I also think Jeffrey Toobin tries to be fair and balanced, to plagiarize a phrase, but sometimes they try to sway him into agreeing with Blitzer, King, or Cooper when he is on the panels.

My comments to The Ticker have also been polite and on topic, however, they are often at odds with the poster. The CNN bias is really obvious on all of those blog posts. I no longer read or contribute to it. As far as The Situation Room is concerned I also don’t care for Gloria Borger, but I think poor old Bill Schneider is just trying to hold on until he gets his pension. My real problem is with racists like Roland Martin and Amy Holmes. Do they really consider these two to be objective commentators? They have both been given a lot of space on 360 to slam Hillary Clinton and her supporters time and time again. Also, the addition of Carl Bernstein must be a joke. When I hear him or Bob Woodward speak I have to remind myself that these are the same brains that brought down the Nixon administration.

I think the policies and practices of CNN should prove that it is a mistake to depend on “one entity” for news and information. If Obama wins this election it will be in part because of all the free publicity supplied by CNN and MSNBC. I have a feeling we are just going to end up with another George Bush of a different color.

Penelope Jonze said...

This was a really great post. I'm a journalism student (and a blogger) and all the flaws and pompousness of TV news outlets that you mentioned are things I think about constantly when considering my future. It's really great to hear this story firsthand.

Anonymous said...

"Oh gawd! What could it beee? We're doomed! Who's flyin this thing?! Oh. Right. That'd be me! Back to work." -- Wash

I know that this is probably about as far from business as usual as you can get - what a wonderful thing! Thank god you're the pilot of this great ship. Now, fly like a leaf on the wind... Sue

dick_gozinia said...

Just for the Cooper question was an attempt at a little levity.

But seriously...he's totally into dudes, right? Did he flirt with you?

Anonymous said...

I won't spend a lot of time congratulating you on the principled stand you're taking, I'll just invite you to read the tribute I wrote at my own little corner of the web:

Thanks for taking a stand.


Nancy Fulton - Writer, Filmaker said...

Welcome to life on the edge, man :) We look forward to hearing about life at CNN :)

mrmook said...

F*****G "A"!

Now that is the Chez I've been waiting to hear.

Like V wrote-

Fly casual...

and pack a BIG payload.

Anonymous said...

Here's something from a graduated (unemployed) journalist from a completely different country. And, as you may have imagined, yes, it's even worse for the news business when you live in South America.

I believe my words will be overlooked in the vastity of all previous comments, but anyway, I had to say something, being in the same area as you are -- or were, we still don't know.

First, I've read the whole thing. I loved it. Then I've read some of the comments, a lot of the expected stuff, but also too much naiveté.

To you, I can only ask not to get lost. Please, don't. Punk was pretty much a joke (I loved it, still love it as theory, but it was) and a "fuck this" won't help you, your wife, your kid or anyone you come to work for. Please, dedicate your talent to being a bigger man, not to protest like an angry teenager.

It's easy to say I'd be looking forward to see what you're up to next. But I'm not sure. People get angry when injustice knocks at their door -- believe me on this, as I already told you (roughly) where I live. I'd actually go out looking for something else in the same field (if it's the case, as you say it, of not knowing how to do anything else), as you probably have a great resumé by now. Invest on it, and yes, fuck CNN for their policy, but praise another corporation or anyone with a good proposal who happens to want you with them. Also, I'd be studying a lawsuit over freedom of speech, serious breaches in their regulations and certainly violated work rights. Out of their building, you are another citizen, you know that better than I do. And I wouldn't believe in all this here where I am, but possibly in the US, this thought *could* be feasible.

As for CNN, someone said in a comment, "Don't they know it's people like you they need the most?". No, they don't need Chez. It's time for people to stop being so dellusional as to think there are good things happening in companies of this ilk. Whenever you think of this, imagine the classic fat dude with a moustache, wearing a fine suit. He doesn't sport a greedy smile; he shows no emotion whatsoever. He'll spin the news and cancel your favorite sitcom with no remorse, because it's a only business -- and nothing else at this point.

They want the numbest people they can find, people who won't argue or raise doubt, who won't be too creative as come to come up with "ideas", people who will stay in line all night to buy the new iPhone, no matter at what price. It's absolutely safe for us to think like that, even if it doesn't happen to be true here or there. Mark my words: there is no journalism going on in the world. What we know as "the media" is just another simulacrum, pretty much like everything else we get to see in our routines: we call something a name, but the thing hasn't matched the meaning behind that name for a long time now. The beer you drink hasn't really been beer for a long time now, mind you.

You're facing now the old discussion between keeping your integrity and selling your soul. It's the same as a band going "commercial" and "selling out" or keeping musically relevant, you know that -- and you also know that ** bands (and I can't stress enough how few they are) are musically relevant today. And you know what is the solution for all that, so I'm not here to tell you what to do.

Your text was brave and beautiful, and I'm actually keeping it in my collection. But either we start a huge revolution from outside, and not a subtle one, or we infiltrate and take it aggressively, because "they'll sentence you to 20 years of boredom for trying to change the system from within." Slowly, they've appropriated punk; they'll also appropriate any slow revolution.

I only hope you can find it again, and I won't go giving false words of hope, like "give it to them" or "this is opportunity in disguise" or "you're a hero, take them dow". You seem to be a talented worker, you can easily find the way again. And CNN (and MSNBC and all the others, and the papers, and news radios...) will keep on being the same until everybody stops shouting at them and starts doing stuff.

I'm signing as anonymous because I don't have a Google account, a blog or anything like that. Also, why a real anonymous person would sign this?

Anonymous said...

At this point, it may appear you were fired. I say they set you free. I spend all day surfing the net. This article was one of the best reads. You have real talent my friend. A year from now, your old employer will be shinning your shoes.
btw- I am bookmarking your site. Looking foward to reading your blog.

T-Bird said...

I'm adding my 'fuck this' to the general pool here.

Anonymous said...

The irony being that a liberal station like CNN would fire someone for something like this when the very ideas that liberals stand for lean towards more freedom. Freedom of the press? No thanks. We'll take national health care.

Think you can sue them for an unconstitutional firing? After all, a handbook is simply "guidelines", not rules and legal notes.

A Bowl Of Stupid said...

Everything substantiative that needs to be said has already been said (especially what Votar said).

All I have to offer, my friend, are my condolences, and my advice as a former labor and employment attorney (if so requested).

As usual, miss you both, and congrats on the addition. Mazel tov.

Vanessa said...

I was led to your blog by Matt from A Bowl of Stupid. This situation is just messy. You have definitely changed my perception of CNN. I hope they get their act together.

On the other hand, your firing and exposing them for who they are could work to your favor. You really should rethink litigation. The whole blogger's rights is an area that needed to be vetted publicly.

Peace and blessings.

Anonymous said...

This being my first visit to your blog, I'm happy to bring one more resounding "fuck this" to the table. I wish more people would stand up for what they believe instead of just bitching in private.

Go get 'em!!

Anonymous said...


I'm the Peter who would be shocked if you published my comment. You did... I am sufficiantly humbled.

There are times I don't mind being proven wrong, and this is one of them. Good luck in the future.


Anonymous said...

>>"Awhile back I was watching a great documentary on the birth of the punk scene, it closed with former Black Flag frontman and current TV host Henry Rollins saying these words: "All it takes is one person to stand up and say 'fuck this.'"I truly hope so, because I'm finally doing just that.And I should've done it a long time ago.

I find this pretty darn amusing, since you waited until he was fired to say that....

You were obviously a good little network news employee until the end.

Wake me up when someone ON AIR says it.

Don't compare yourself to Henry Rollins dude. Rollins is a GIANT. You're just a disgruntled cog in the corporate machine. It's nice that you came out and all that, but you obviously milked your association with CNN to get cyberspace eyeballs and when CNN caught you doing this; they fired you, now you want to act like a rebel?

Forrestian said...

Good post Chez.
I'm glad they lost another talent like yourself, because MSM doesn't deserve it - not until the return of true journalism at least.
I worked for a major cable network myself, and it amazes me how smart and savvy all the insiders are - yet we build a castle of sh!t and glitter for the outside world. Bizarre.
I'm very looking forward to all the things you will do with your talents unbound by CNN.

PS- I'm 34 and grew up in Miami listening to WVUM back in your days - it was the ONLY thing keeping many of us sane down there. So, big thanks for that!

But...WSVN was so much the opposite of all that - I really think it was the model that FOXNews is based on; Rich Sanchez, hard glossy graphics, and rampant sensationalism, all before FOX's time. Let's not even start talking about "Deco Drive"!

Thanks for writing and inspiring others.
(ex-founder Area51, Miami Beach)

Anonymous said...

How long before you appear as a guest on Fox News?

Anonymous said...

A HUGE High-Five you!
I worked for them for 10 years -
On Air - I wasn't fired, but - I understand!
Continue to put them on Blast!!!
All the best!

Anonymous said...

No severance? That company has balls. I hope you find something more fulfilling that, uh...pays. Good luck!

wrekehavoc said...

long may you wave, man.

and i can vouch for the UM radio station, though i was there in the early/mid 80s. i still wonder whether anyone down there ever heard of black flag. or the smiths.

in short, i had to leave before my brain melted and congealed.

wishing you well, from a blogger known as deus ex mama...

Anonymous said...


PunditMom said...

Never a good idea to take on an employee with a blog.

And, as a former broadcast journalist myself, it says this: When it comes to TV newsroom politics, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Ben Bowman (The Producer) said...

Okay, but the real question is: What ARE your favorite pasta sauce recipes?

Or did I miss the point?

Anonymous said...

Long time lurker, first time poster - you've gone to extreme measures to get us to come out of the shadows Chez! ;)

Am I the only one who remembers Chez saying months ago that he knew he could lose his job over this blog? The "reason" given by CNN may not be what he expected, but he went into this "experiment" clear eyed and honest.

I don't doubt for a minute that he and Jayne made arrangements for this eventuality. And that "discretion is the better part of valor" at the moment.

Wishing you the best, Chez.
Congrats on the new bambino.

Anonymous said...

You have learned what many of us learned long ago, news is not about news. What you describe is what happens obviously in the biggest cable operations, but it also happens at the smallest locals. It just is not the craft it used to be and it's just not worth watching anymore either.

You've got guts my friend. Most in the news industry today are cowards and would never stand up for anything.

Anonymous said...

Uh, what are you talking about? I gave up on major TV/Cable networks as a source of news about 5 years ago.

Chez, you're late!

Anonymous said...

We all agree on your level of talent.
let's not lose site of what has to happen here. Aside from everyone wanting you "to get CNN"
you have a baby on the way.

We all want this to be a happy occasion.
$$$$ anytime soon???
Please advise.
Would hate to think we're all just feeding a talented ego. :)

Joe said...

Chez, Way to Go!
I am glad you are not a part of the Ted Turner network anymore. (Though I do hear that Rupert Murdock is hiring though! LOL)
I have never read your blog before today but I am a regular Slashdotter... You have made their front page:

I used to work as a Photographer in the Newspaper business. While TV news was generally considered to be the enemy of Newspapers (and Videographers the nemesis of we happy few photojournalists)
I DO IDENTIFY with your CNN firing situation and the fact that the biz has no clue. It is dying, you see. They just don't know it yet.

I must state, the Internet has already killed the Newspapers. Most of them are just too stupid to know it yet and they are all dying slow deaths.. When the bandwidth of the Internet to 'common users' is wider, faster, and much cheaper then now, Television (as we know it) will die a similar clueless slow death. The recent writer's strike was one of the first outbreaks that will overtake and kill the TV beast. Reality TV cannot save it. Cable will be next along with satellite. This will be true for most locked-in thinking media business models and the subscription media markets too.

I hope to see and read more of you and your opinions in this brave new media world. -Joe

Charlza said...

I'm sorry to hear things had to go this route. I have been such a fan of CNN for many years, but this really gives me pause and something to think about.

I wish you the best of luck,

Anonymous said...

Its amazing to see that no matter where you are in the world that the same kind of journalistic failing is occurring the world over. Real news stories and interesting pieces giving way to sensationalistic cstories that, really, no one cares about.

I dont want to know anything about Anna Nicole Smith, nor do I care about GWB, except how he stuffed up again (Mister C Average!). I am interested in the upcoming US Presidential elections because it is the start of a new era (black man or white woman president).

Lets hope that with the changing of the Political tide that there will be a turning of the journalistic tide. Death of corporate ratings winning CEO's and so called shareholder winning news articles, which absolutely no one cares for except possibly the lonely bored housewives of said shareholders and Corp execs.

Since when did journalism stop being about reporting the news and being about reporting on sensationalistic un-newsworthy stories.

I remember stories of news anchors doing things such as being shot with tazers, swimming with sharks, sensationalist pieces on GMA, and other Morning Shows but since when was that "last-segment-laugh" become the mainstay of the stories?

And the sad fact is that it is the same in Australia too. We dont have the balls to stand against the American machine and say, No, we are our own people and this is what we want. If the USA shows Big Brother and American Idol, them we show it too, no matter how many times we turn off.

At least the internet gets a good workout. TV - Nowadays it is irrelevant. It simply doesn't show us what normal people want to see.

Anonymous said...

and now by firing you, CNN has made you more powerful than they can possibly imagine

Anonymous said...


You sucked from the tit of old media for years and now you bad mouth it because you got shafted.

How many times did you gloat to other people that you were a big shot CNN producer?

The hypocrisy is too much.

Justin said...


Probably the best thing that will ever have happened to you.

I for one have rarely ever watch a TV program that provides news. I learned long ago that a majority of them like to make the news, not report it.

Best of luck to you in the future!

Mark said...

I'd was about to type, "Call Simon & Schuster", but then I thought, "Feh! By now they're negotiating restaurants."

Let me paraphrase Hunter S. Thompson, "The [media] business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side."

Life or something like it... said...

Wow, I can't believe they fired you, just like that. I guess CNN really is the Communist News Network. Wow. I may have to start boycotting the station altogether. Keep up with the opinions.

foolery said...

Oh, I dunno . . . as a blogger I won't be volunteering any time soon to go to Pakistan or Kenya or Baghdad to "report."

And the news has always been a business, if my memories of Yellow Journalism count for anything. Infotainment is just a breathtaking new phase of a historically seedy (and occasionally glorious) endeavor.

All the best to you in the next phase, Chez, and I'll be right here reading.

Just another New Media Douchebag,

-- Laurie

John said...

From Associated Progress:

Thanks for standing up for those ideas and people, the culture, in which you TRULY believe. Our best in your new pursuits. -AP

P.S. I would rather wake up to Radiohead, anyway. FUCK THIS!

Georgie said...

Very interesting article. Well done to you for standing up for your principles.

Carmack said...

You have my attention.

*RSS subscribe*

Patrick Babb said...

I just saw the Slashdot article about what CNN did, and I truly hope this comes back to bite them in the ass (though I truly doubt it will). Anyway, I thought I'd let you know you have another well-wisher cheering you on. Never stop writing.

Anonymous said...

CNN should be ashamed of themselves....

How sad.... How about they worry about their on-air product instead of what one employee in their massive network writes online...

Freedom of the Press my Buttox

Killian said...

couldnt agree more with the sad state of american news. It would seem to me that a logical outcome of this would be organizing and banning together of bloggers to form a combined front. Something along the lines of how AO-Hell rose out of a bunch of bbs' joining forces.

course that's just one take on the matter.

Anonymous said...

I'm a conservative. I'm not a Republican; in my right-wing reactionism, I think they sold out to liberal ideology. By these terms, I should be your worst opponent; my view of the media as full of "liberal bias" sounds like a decently good indicator that I'd support CNN's move.

Unfortunately for your old network, I'm on these "internets". The ability to think is to me far more important then any ideology. If CNN believes they can garner any sort of support (Republican or not) simply by firing their most capable personnel, they're on crack. Good luck with your future.

Ally said...

Oh, hell yeah!

You are one bad motherfucker, Chez~ do what you do, and don't let 'em get behind ya.

Uplinktruck said...

I find it ironic that a company that lives and breaths under the principals of free speech would fire a behind the scenes employee for exercising those very same rights.

I feel your pain. Now I live in fear.

Carolyn said...

Transformation and change is life's way of moving you towards your soul's purpose. Good luck with bringing down CNN.

Daniel said...

This is a great whistle blower story. Traditional news outlets are going to have to learn, as corporate America and the financial services industry have learned so painfully over the past ten years, that the road to success is transparent. I applaud your effort, but wonder how you will make money now? Inquiring minds want to know. By the way, have you seen the Courtney Cox show "Dirt" on FX? You'd love it!!! Best - Delsonic /

Jill said...

I have never read your blog before and was sent this via link from a friend.

I hate watching the news, it's like being forced to eat food that is garbage.

thank you.
good luck.

Providence, RI

Anonymous said...

every time i watch CNN i'm glad i also get the BBC.

DiGrifter said...

Well I wouldn't have heard of your blog if you hadn't been fired (sorry about that by the way), but I'll be another regular reader now...

tRANIS said...

Just read this on /. and then read it to my wife and we both laughed.

Go man go she said.

Sarah F. said...

Like digrifter, I wouldn't have heard about your blog if you hadn't been fired. And, like digrifter, I intend to be a regular reader.

You're better off without them.

moog said...

wow. read about this on slashdot, and just shocked....

good luck! if you ever show up in daytona beach, drink's on me :)

pudge said...


You did something that harms your employer's reputation, and you turn it into some bullshit about the state of news.

Horseshit, indeed.

Anonymous said...

I would like to say that this is the first story I've heard like this coming out of CNN, but I'd be lying.

A question I'd love to have answered if you are so inclined -- I'm actually in the process of interviewing for a job at CNN. I'm also a blogger of multiple forms (personal and more public.) I'm leaving this intentionally vague because I don't want them to track me down and blackball me before I even get the chance to sort through what I should do. But if you were going into the job knowing what you do now about their policy and how it's enforced, what would you do? Would you tell them about your blog from the beginning, and would you even offer to delete it? Would you delete it and start completely anonymously? Would you only blog about the glories of reality TV? Is there any advice you would give to someone who loves their blog but who has always dreamed of working at CNN? I know it's a tough place to be, but it's also the top tier of the biz.

I wish I could leave an e-mail address here for you, but I will be checking the comments in hopes you can at least throw out a line or two to help. Thanks in advance, and good luck to you and your family. I have no doubt from reading your stories that you've got a helluva memoir on the way.

Anonymous said...

Good piece. I wish you good fortune in whatever your next (paying) endeavor might be.

I used to keep CNN on in the background much of the time, but around maybe 2004 or 2005, I guess it was, it went from tolerable and occasionally informative to just noise. I've probably watched fewer than 2 hours of CNN total since. I still occasionally read their web site which from time to time does have reasonable coverage.

In fact I rarely watch TV news anymore at all, except of course for the Daily Show and the Colbert Report, ostensibly not intended to be the "real" news but evidently a far better source than the so-called mainstream has become.

To the commentor 'pudge', while CNN would understandably have a legitimate concern about the possibility of harm to their reputation, they should focus first and foremost on the substance underlying that reputation which has steadily declined over the past at least 5 years as a result not of employee blogs, but of their own editorial practices. Perhaps they should take a long hard look in the mirror.

Margret Li said...

I picked up this post on /. Thanks for the insight, and kudos for saying "fuck this".


Anonymous said...

Fuck this indeed! You can proudly keep that chin in the air!

Anonymous said...

I may not agree with your political leanings, but I am happy that an insider, such as yourself, has the balls to admit that the major media outlets are full of horseshit. I would like to think that Woodward and Bernstein, Murrow and Cronkite were in the game for noble pursuits, but in the end, isn't always about selling ads to make the almighty dollar? The saying goes, who watches the watchers?
Screw CNN, screw FNC, screw (insert newspaper of record here)! Use your new-found voice! At least some of the world is listening...

Jim said...

"pudge said...


You did something that harms your employer's reputation, and you turn it into some bullshit about the state of news.

Horseshit, indeed."

Is it bliss pudge? One more potato farting his or her way through the nightly news, a dying breed one hopes.

Cyde Weys said...

Great post. I would say I'm sorry that you lost your job, but I guess you (rightfully) don't feel that way. Keep sticking it to them.

markjamesmurphy said...

Fight the power Chez!

Jared said...

This is an example of the reasons I no longer watch CNN or other cable and/or network news outlets (except for The Daily Show, which is rather telling of the industry as a whole, that a satirical show feels more of a valid news source than networks like CNN.)

Jared said...

"pudge said...


You did something that harms your employer's reputation, and you turn it into some bullshit about the state of news.

Horseshit, indeed."

If he were posting things like "Executive A is having an adulterous affair with Secretary C from Accounting," or "whistle-blowing" sort of deal about possible lies and/or distortions on air, or anything similar, and not just his own take on issues surrounding every day life, then I'd see a justification. But being fired for being "opinionated" on issues, is ludicrous. If everyone in America were fired for being opinionated about issues, either liberal or a conservative bias, the unemployment rate would be damned near 100% (100% if you don't consider our robotic co-workers.)

Ryan said...

Right. On.

Good luck, Chez. You found yourself another new reader.

Anonymous said...

I have a towel and a clothes pin with your name on it. :)
May the force be with you when you take CNN down!! :)

Seems there might be more people on your blog than actually watching tv. Just a hunch, I think CNN screwed this one up on so many levels.

I think this decision to fire you was more about your ratings on your blog, overpowering CNN's ratings as a so called "news station".

OR,The big O, Oprah made a phone call. Which just goes to show that money really can buy anything if I'm right.
However, CNN's money DID NOT buy your soul.

How do you feel about radio?? You were great on Sirius.

If you ever in Fla again, if we buy you a drink, will you make time for us then??? :) You've earned it..
Seriously, When can we expect the book?

Someone (Z) wants to read something. Yes or No??? I have to ask you first.... He is very impressed. Had no idea of the level of your talent.
quick response is all it takes....

Rebecca MacKinnon said...

Dude, congratulations. I worked for CNN for 12 years, first as a producer then as correspondent - in China and Japan. Went on leave for 6 months to do a fellowship back in 2004, started blogging while on leave, and it was made pretty clear to me that my blogging would be a problem on my return. So I didn't return. Among other reasons. Another reason was that I was ashamed of what CNN had become, cheerleading for the Iraq invasion for the most part, making it clear to employees that our duty was to boost shareholder value and such crap.

Anyway, I don't regret a day I spent at CNN, I learned a ton and did some good stories here and there, but never for one minute have I regretted leaving. I'm sure you'll come to see this firing as the best thing that could have happened to you. Welcome to freedom!

Anonymous said...

The retard that says:

"You did something that harms your employer's reputation, and you turn it into some bullshit about the state of news."

Is the type of person who almost deserves the encroaching fascism that is taking over America with the help of compromised MSM news. I say almost because it's not entirely their fault. Many of those people don't even realize that their view of reality is compeltely made up of bullshit from the "news." As a wise man has said "the new is just another show," and now, in many cases it is a wholesale manipulation.

Use this opprtunity. You're obviously reaching a lot of people now judgin g by how I found this. Use what you know to explain people how compromised our "fourth estate" really is.

That sucks to lose your job...You probably were pulling down pretty good money, but at least now youre not part of the lie.

Make lemonade...Maybe even lemonade that makes people not want to drink the kool-aid.

k thx bai.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, Your the last thing I read before going to bed and I the first thing I read when I wake up.

That's power!!!!!

Anonymous said...

As a soon-to-be-former employee, I know your post is dead-on. Something I hear almost constantly is: "You have to give the people what they want." The reality is that a privately-held company will always seek to increase revenue for its shareholders and corporate owners, and that goal is diametrically opposed to journalism's noblest aim -- to inform the public and encourage popular debate.

There are of course passionate and dedicated people at the company, but I've sat in on meetings, scratching my head over why decision-makers have absolutely nothing to say when it comes to choosing the day's rundowns. It's like watching people read their grocery lists.

You can say that the function of journalism is to further the cause of democracy; that without an informed citizenry, democracy breaks down. But, sadly, the knuckle-headed argument always wins at the end of the day. Maybe we are simply out-numbered by the knuckle-heads.

Anonymous said...

By the way, I'm leaving the field. I don't know what I'll do next, but definitely not something that makes me feel as dirty as a used condom.

pudge said...

To the retard who calls me a retard:

Excuse me for recognizing that CNN is a business and that it is stupid for that business to allow its own employees to harm that business.

I don't care about CNN. I get my TV news from Jim Lehrer. I have a degree in journalism, and I dislike most cable news in large part because of my strong opinions about journalism, and how they don't meet the standards I expect. I am not defending CNN.

But to pretend that you should be able to work for CNN -- as a producer, no less -- and still say whatever you wish is really naive and childish. They have an image to protect (whether they live up to it or not is something else), and ranting about a presidential candidate being a "witless automoton" is just ASKING to get fired, because as soon as the "other side" picks it up, and links you to CNN, then CNN is having to deal with YOUR bullshit, and it makes THEM look bad.

It's the "knuckleheads" who think that what they do and say do not, or should not, have repercussions. Welcome to the Real World. Will you be staying long?

Anonymous said...

The last time I checked, we were considered Americans and this is the United States of America. Are there really on a few of us that really get what that means?????

For those of you who write from other countries, make some room. I'm starting to feel embarrassed by this sad state we are in.

The White House sensors what the media can say about, well, anything. And the news media lies about everything. Let's just report whatever sells. Who cares if we get the story right or wrong. Sadly, this is becoming a common practice now.

I'm happy Chez took a stand. I'm sad it cost him his income. I never really watched the news much.
It's always the same story over and over. Played to death.

Chez, I'm not sure if you've got a plan yet. I hope so. Just don't waste this talent you have been given.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me for recognizing that CNN is a business and that it is stupid for that business to allow its own employees to harm that business.

The 4th estate is now about making money for shareholders?

Well, excuse me for thinking it was to inform and educate the masses.

Silly me.

How exactly was Chez 'harming' CNN's ability to make money for their shareholders Obi Wan?

Pidgas said...

A CNN producer gets fired for posting opinion at the Huffington Post and complains he's being treated unfairly?

He knew it was against the rules a month before he did it?! Is there a journalistic equivalent to the Darwin awards? I think we've found a winner.

Pidgas said...

A CNN producer gets fired for posting opinion at the Huffington Post and complains he's being treated unfairly?

He knew it was against the rules a month before he did it?! Is there a journalistic equivalent to the Darwin awards? I think we've found a winner.

hebE said...

Amen. We're with you.

tggr80 said...

Congrats to you for making this journey. I hope you can lead additional mescreants to speak out and bring truth to the public eye in all forms, especially in the media, but its much needed everywhere. When did this country become so complacent? Why are not more people angry and speaking out, demanding the changes that need to be made?
As my 86 yr old dad (WWII survivor )said what happened to the spirit of the everyman who was considered 'infidels' in the american revolution??
keep it up

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