Thursday, June 26, 2008

And Now, a Word from "Jon Klein"

I'm filing this one under "For Entertainment Purposes Only," simply because there's no way to verify the authenticity of what you're about to read -- and I tend to doubt that the real Jon Klein, even when you consider his purported level of arrogance, would be balls-out stupid enough to publicly comment on this site.

That said though, I received a response to yesterday's short post on personal blogging by members of larger media outlets that reads as follows:

From: Your Former Boss

Chez, I've had enough of it. When you came to work for us, you implicitly made a pact to give your time and your skills to us. We paid you a salary, you give us your skills. We didn't need skills in the bedroom or skills in the kitchen or any of that; that's the stuff for your off time. Your production skills were what we paid for, and that includes your thoughts on media, your writing talent and all the rest.

Frankly, while working for us I don't believe you should be writing anything without permission. Not a novel about space aliens infesting a Mormon commune or a book of your favorite family recipes.

We, and many other business besides, pay good money for our workers and provide benefits and for that we, demand...loyalty.

You broke that trust, and that is why you are currently surviving on the benefits of unemployment insurance. Be glad we let you get that without challenging your right to it. After all, you broke trust. You broke your implied word that came with being our employee. In short, your termination was well deserved and if I had my way, you'd be paying us back for every hour you spent work on this blog while working at CNN.

Jon Klein

For those lucky enough to have no idea who this person claims to be, Jon Klein is the president of CNN/U.S. and was, in fact, my "boss" during a substantial portion of my time at CNN. I've been told by several people since being fired from the network that Klein -- the real Klein -- actually is strangely Queegian enough to troll the internet looking for negative press about him and the little ethically-challenged fiefdom that he's built on the once-hallowed ground on which CNN sits. But once again, I just can't believe that he'd let his ego get the best of him and make the entirely ill-advised decision to engage in a public war of words with, well, a blogger (although, we've witnessed a lot of very bad, ego-driven ideas involving television types played out in public lately; take, for instance, the nightly fusillade between Keith Olbermann and Bill O'Reilly, bringing the vast resources of NBC and News Corp., respectively, to bear against each other in what's essentially a playground brawl). For what it's worth, even my own sense of self-importance isn't weighty enough to make me willing to believe that I'm important enough of an issue for CNN to have drawn its president out of his office and into a pissing match.

However, the comment does sound quite a bit like Klein: it's highly articulate, avoids going completely off the rails at any point, and is full to the brim with hubris. And the only thing I can say for sure is that it was written by neither myself nor someone I know.

So, just for the hell of it, I'll respond to this mystery person:

From: Your Former Employee

Mr. Klein,

I'm going to operate as if the comment recently made on my site, Deus Ex Malcontent, really is from you. I admit that I do this more for myself than for the benefit of you or even my readers, as I'd love nothing more than to finally address you "face to face."

The truth, sir, is that since your appointment to the position of president of CNN/U.S. in late 2004, you have consistently betrayed the principles and ethics upon which the network was originally founded -- the standards the public relies on from an organization such as CNN. You've done this by abandoning your background in real journalism, conveniently turning up your nose at it in favor of assuming the role of a highly-paid corporate hack whose sole interest is a twofold goal: assuring the mightiest stream of revenue possible for the Time Warner shareholders through the garnering of ratings by any means necessary and, in turn, ensuring that his own job is never in danger. This kind of end may certainly be a practical one in this age of news-for-profit, but unfortunately the tactics required to meet it -- the lengths you must be willing to go to in order to grab the ratings which pull in the money -- often run wholly anathema to the canons of honest, respectable journalism. Put simply, creating political conflict where this is none and inflating the conflict that already exists for the sake of generating viewer interest is reprehensible; allowing demagogic blowhards like Lou Dobbs and Nancy Grace, and Vaudevillian buffoons like Glenn Beck, to even walk the halls of CNN is a startling forfeiture of credibility; fostering an environment in which managers find it acceptable to make inexplicable comments like, "What can we do to not lead with Iraq?" is almost beyond belief; ruining what should, by all accounts, be the gold standard of U.S. televisions news, CNN, is absolutely unforgivable, sir. Unforgivable.

I refuse to once again list the failings of you and your organization as of late -- failings which are, in no uncertain terms, so absolute from a journalistic perspective as to be mind-boggling. I refuse because I've spent the past four months spelling them out ad nauseam for anyone and everyone to see. CNN/U.S. may indeed be making money hand-over-fist for its keepers at Time Warner, and this fact may indeed be all that really matters in your eyes -- but this in no way justifies the depths to which you've allowed the network to sink in pursuit of these vast profits.

It's about more than money -- more than the razzle-dazzle, and the shock value, and the over-the-top celebrity-fellating-and-generating ethos. It's about journalism. It's about bringing truth to power and, dare I say it, responsibility. And it's these principles that you've sacrificed time and time again, Mr. Klein. And though I have no doubt that you'll dismiss this criticism, as you tend to do to any and all outrage aimed in the direction of you and the institution you've created/destroyed, ask yourself this some time: "If the person currently castigating me through Deus Ex Malcontent and The Huffington Post is so wrong, so completely off-base in his reasoning, why are not one or two, but three of my senior managers in constant e-mail contact with him, agreeing with his arguments and feeding him inside information?" For the record, I'm not referring to a few disgruntled "bottom-feeders" within your organization; I'm talking about managers whom you think highly enough of to enlist them to represent CNN/U.S. as panelists at this year's National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas.

Think about that, sir.

As for myself -- my admittedly insignificant little drama in the much larger and more important picture, and your supposed irritation with it -- I can only say this: You may have paid me, but you didn't own me. I worked for CNN, not the CIA. I gave my job 100% and have the sterling employee reviews to prove it, but what I did on my own time, and not as a representative of the views and opinions of you or anyone else at CNN, was mine and mine alone. I regret nothing, and if you honestly do believe that you and the entity you lord over should be afforded absolute control of those who draw a CNN paycheck, you really are as laughably megalomaniacal, not to mention paranoid, as your many detractors claim you to be. I'm not sure if even the real Jon Klein, at his most delirious, would be short-sighted enough to actually threaten me with the revocation of my unemployment benefits or insinuate that I could at some point be taken to court for my personal actions during my time under the employ of CNN, but if by the slightest chance it really is you spouting such draconian invective, all I can say is, in the words of the very president the media in general failed to take to task for so long: bring it on.

Go ahead, make me a martyr. Make me truly famous.

Make my voice deafening.




the sieve said...

Damn, you're a good writer, Chez.

As for "Klein," I'm not buying it. For one thing, the syntax in that e-mail is laughable. It's hard to believe someone who runs a news organization as large as CNN would write like that.

VOTAR said...

He doesn't need your skills in the bedroom.

You must be crushed.

Chez said...

Like I said -- for entertainment purposes only.

auntiechristus said...

while the authenticity of the 'klein' letter is in doubt e.g. 'business' for 'businesses' it seems to fit his type of person - the entitlement elite-type person - rich folks in control of powerful corporations who feel that they can do anything they please.

we need to clean house!

what we need here is a good old-fashioned French Revolution. i'll bring the guillotine - you bring the necks!

Terry Heaton said...

I assume you've checked the IP address of the comment to assess its origin. TTFN

Chez said...

It was left as a standard anonymous "fill in any name you'd like" format. No URL or address.

Geetch said...

Mm, that's some good invective.

Michael J. West said...

It IS awfully suspicious that the "Jon Klein" comment came in a just a few hours after the blog post's only other comment, which wondered when Jon Klein would write in.

But Chez, just on the off haven't unintentionally outed your senior-management sources at CNN, have you?

Chez said...

Oh I doubt seriously that it's really Klein.

As for the sources -- there are quite a few people who went to NAB. They're safe.

slouchmonkey said...

"This is how we do things in the O.C., bitch!"

Anonymous said...

This is one of those cases that it is just so crazy that it just might be true.

Anonymous said...

I've always been surprised that CNN just dumped you without a warning and an opportunity to ameliorate the situation, i.e., take down the blog and promise not to do any outside writing in the future without the explicit permission of the corporation. So, frankly, it seems something more was afoot. You're an insouciant fellow. Had you pissed someone off and they used this convenient means to get rid of you? Was the company looking for cutbacks without having to pay severence and again you gave them the means? Who knows. There are scope of work issues in this whole business. Klein, or faux-Klein can claim he/CNN had some implicit pact that gave him/them ownership of everything you wrote, but that's not necessarily true under the law. I don't believe that the production skills they hired your for included your thoughts on the media, and a strong case could be made that the application of your writing talent was limited to the assignments you received from CNN. If you wrote poetry, could CNN claim it owned that poetry simply because you were an employee?

Which brings up me as an example. I'm under contract to a large entertainment corporation which shall be nameless. There is specific language in my agreement that gives them ownership rights to anything I write while under their employ, and for a year after (hey, the money was good and they had all the leverage in the negotation). This is spelled out very clearly without any ambiguity. I manged to negotiate a partial waiver of these terms which still gives them a right of first negotiation and last refusal. It's laughable really because I do write and publish poetry and literary fiction and they don't have a publishing arm. It's highly unlikely that you'll see any of my poems coming to a theater near you soon. But such is the power of the corporation.

b80vin said...

Dear Mr. Klein,
If you are the real Joe Klein who posted at Deus Ex Malcontent I would like to voice my discontent.
To begin, as you did: Joe, I've had enough of it. Enough of Grace's preening self righteousness; enough of Beck's impersonation of a Neanderthal; enough of Dobb's xenophobic histrionics; enough of O'Reilly's encephalitic bluster; enough of Hannity's chauvinistic, red, white and blue racism. I'm sure you're wondering what FOX NEWS has to do with you. You are all culpable in the erosion of my country through the surrendering of the responsibility of a guaranteed right. You have all neglected to foster the right of the free press to be something more than a figure on the stock exchange. While I fight to keep MY guaranteed rights, you and the other heads of news organizations simply release yours through incompetence.
So, I've had enough of you working so hard to root out inoffensive offenses to your ego-driven definitions of loyalty at the seeming expense of your doing real journalism. Should you take offense at this characterization, should you wish to insist that real journalism and not inflated controversy and ratings-driven star ogling motivate you, I shall expect your response not on a blog, but in the form of a national news announcement that Nancy Grace, Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs have all had their contracts terminated and shall have their chairs filled by professional journalists. I am not holding my breath.

Anonymous said...


Doesn't this, "I'm talking about managers whom you think highly enough of to enlist them to represent CNN/U.S. as panelists at this year's National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas." Make it easier for Klein to figure out who your anonymous informants are? S.

Jubilant Echo was here said...

I have to agree with Michael here, if that previous post was never made the idea would have never spawed into the imagination of whom ever wrote that comment. But still, it is nice to think that you struck a chord somewhere and that you are not only making waves over there at CNN but also causing tsunamis the likes of which are making the heads there angry and maybe even concerned? Do I dare believe that a giant such as CNN would actually care about popular opinion and the fact that we have a voice and do not see the world through their filtered eyes?

Ally said...

Loved your response, Chez. You took the argument in "Klein's" letter out of the gutter and back to where it belongs, demonstrating true character. Even if it is from someone screwing with you (which it probably is), you had your say. That always feels good.

I'm still scratching my head over the skills in the bedroom part. How incredibly bizarro.

jrm78 said...

Count me as one of the people wondering if CNN won't be soon swinging the "Deus Axe" on your inside sources. Not that I have any knowledge of the behind the scenes stuff there, but you have compiled a pretty impressive track record of naming the incompetents only to see their heads roll within the week of a post.

Chez said...

First of all, the people corresponding with me are anything but incompetent -- secondly, they're not going anywhere. I wouldn't have said what I did if I didn't believe they were 100% safe.

Anonymous said...

Apparently Jane and Jon have been chatting...

whoever it was, and wasn't Klein, the funny part is among all CNN employees are you the ONLY one who ever blogged on "their" time (if that is what you did)? If you blogged accolades of CNN and more particularly Jon Klein, would you have been fired?

Or, worse, if you blogged and were a horrible writer, would CNN really give a fuck?

Anonymous said...


I'm the one who wrote the other comment before this was posted and I didn't write this using Jon Klein's name.

I do have a story I wish I could tell you but Klein has slandered me in a magazine and threatened me with arrest, and I think he's crazy enough to do it but then again the truth would come out and he doesn't want that.

Klein is not a good communicator or speller. Check out an email he sent out at the time of Katrina where he misspells the word usage as "useage".

His arrogance and elitist attitute knows no bounds.

Just as an aside, check this out:

He standing inappropriately close behind Anderson Cooper. Looks like someone uses their bedroom moves with Klein to get ahead.

I'm not a writer like you Chez, please excuse my comments if they don't flow as well as your writing.

honest ape said..., I love this blog.

Anonymous said...

he he he he - the plot thickens...


Ref said...

Not to digress (well...a little) but Nancy Grace sets MY teeth on edge. There is nothing lower in the legal profession than a prosecutor who cheats, and she did so repeatedly. She should have been disbarred.

Flight of the Fnordomancer said...

CORPORATE news.... all about the profit? Naw, couldn't be! I mean, sure I've only ever worked for small, insignificant companies in the middle of nowhere, in a Central Floridian town no one has heard of (other than a few cars going in circles). But I would NEVER think you can take a company above the grass roots level and be concerned SOLELY about money...

Chez, the man is the enemy. The higher you go, the higher you want to ascend (ie. Cupid). I hope that in all my life, the closest contact I have with a major company, Fortune 500 or not, is in the retail outlet. As much of a faux as that e-mail is, if that were genuine, it would only prove the point that unless you're the corporation's slave driver, you're going to be looked at as a slave.


Anonymous said...

And you fell for it. I knew you'd bite!

jrm78 said...

Sorry you misunderstood me. I was referring to the Barbs and the Eds who got axed in the wake of your firing, not the higher-ups still providing the inside scoop. Though perhaps the term 'incompetents' was too strong a word to use in a case where I only know of these folks through your blog musings. In fact, upon further review it appears that the true incompetent is the guy at the top whom the post is addressing. Micro-management almost always ends in failure.

Anonymous said...

Anon @12:27 is probably Klein again, trying to cover his a$$ with the all famous "just kidding". He either realizes he went too far or since it was sent to Jim Walton sometime last night (wonder who would do such a thing?) he's trying to worm his way of a mess he's created.

It is written as Klein writes with the tone Klein uses, in language he uses, has information that only he would know AND who else but Klein would care enough to do this.

Chez, go get him, there are thousands of people behind you, supporting you. I for one would love to see some of the chaos he's created come back on him for a change.

Do it for those of us who have been hurt by Klein and have no way to fight back.

Jessica DaSilva said...

That was a pretty tough kick in the balls.

And just so you know, I really admire you and your blog.