Sunday, February 03, 2013
Capus and Trade
You know, I have to admit that I've been watching Jeff Zucker's considerable behind-the-scenes moves at CNN with some fascination. It's pretty well established by now that I think Zucker's a narcissistic prick and a destroyer-of-worlds when it comes to television; his tenure at NBC wasn't just disastrous, it practically brought 30 Rock to its knees in terms of ratings, reputation and respectability. But since taking the reins at CNN, he's demonstrated that he might actually be interested in honoring the network's legacy by restoring it to hard-news greatness. Hiring Jake Tapper was a terrific move -- as was excising CNN's stable of highly paid pundits -- and potentially casting Chris Cuomo for an upcoming morning show shows promise. (Even the decision to possibly pair Cuomo with Erin Burnett would likely dull the latter's edges by making her little more than a pretty newsreader instead of somebody misguidedly led to believe that her opinion, forged by years of blowing Goldman Sachs partners, actually matters.)
But alas, it was only a matter of time before Zucker showed his true colors and made a change at CNN so significant that it had the potential to entirely, negatively impact the direction the network's news department will take moving forward. And so comes word from Reuters that Zucker is considering hiring NBC's departing news president, Steve Capus, and putting him in a position of authority at CNN.
First the good news: After a disastrous eight years in terms of credibility, Steve Capus is finally leaving NBC News. His greatest hits while at NBC include firing Don Imus for a relatively inconsequential on-air comment then, not long after, airing the final videotaped manifesto of Virginia Tech killer Seung Hui Cho (the message seeming to be that insulting college kids on NBC gets you fired while killing a whole bunch gets you all the time you'd like to say whatever's on your mind); agreeing to pay Paris Hilton a million dollars for a post-jail interview (before being called out for it); publicly blaming the media for all the attention NBC's calamitous handling of the Conan O'Brien-Jay Leno affair received, and generally playing Salacious Crumb to Zucker's Jabba the Hutt at just about every turn.
It's sad, though not surprising considering the current corporate media climate, that it took the Today show's plummeting ratings and instantly legendary PR clusterfuck in the wake of Ann Curry's clumsy dismissal -- oh yeah, and Capus presided over that as well -- to finally force Steve Capus out at NBC, but that's exactly what's happened. Comcast began cleaning house as soon as it took over -- in a deal that Zucker's incompetence almost cratered -- and now it looks as if the lack of favors they did themselves along the way has led to most of Zucker's team being just about gone.
The questions is, will these people now resurface at CNN?
Because, you know, they were so effective at NBC -- the once-dominant network that Zucker and company unfathomably took to number four thanks to their collective ego juggernaut.