James Carville, invited to opine last night on CNN after it showed Obama Revealed: The Man, The President, began by saying, “the piece, ‘documentary’, I guess you’d call it.” Anderson Cooper had to reassure him it was a documentary, but I kept thinking if CNN believed more strongly in long form reporting Cooper would have introduced it and introduced the cable network’s reporter, chief White House Correspondent Jessica Yellin. She did a credible job of interviewing, especially when she spoke with the President, but not once did I see or hear her name during 90 minutes of the “documentary” in which commercials seemed more dominant than reporting.
CNN seemed tone deaf in that the first commercial was for “Clean Coal” – but there were eight commercials, usually, in four-minute blocks for about every six minutes of program material. Then, each program segment began by repeating something we had just heard and seen. Ultimately we did “learn something”, as Carville said, about the president’s accomplishments, but at a breathtaking speed because of how the ‘documentary’ was packaged.
After it was “over”, segments were repeated and “analyzed” by Cooper, Candy Crowley, Wolf Blitzer, Gloria Borger, Alex Castellanos, Carville – and Yellin, the only one I hadn’t seen before. Admittedly, I haven’t watched CNN for long time, not since Time Warner moved it higher up on its list of channels. I found it in HD on Channel 778. What a shame to see such good work, more an extended news analysis than a documentary, interrupted and so poorly presented.