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 expect...no, 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.
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
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.