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Journalismism

CNN’s Newest Star Is Proudly “Nonpolitical”

Image via CNN

Today the Washington Post published a profile of CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, the 30-year-old “broadcast journalism prodigy” who was recently tapped to anchor for CNN’s morning show. The story is more or less what you’d expect: It lays out Collins’s experience and background (she used to work for Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller before becoming CNN’s White House correspondent); it includes quotes of a certain tenor from her bosses (new CNN exec Chris Licht called her “the absolute complete package” and former CNN exec Jeff Zucker said, “You could just tell there was something very special about her, even at a young age”); and it makes sure to highlight her quirky side (she’s an “avid college football fan” who wore a Wonder Woman T-shirt during her Zoom interview with the Post reporter).

It also hit another familiar note:

Today, Collins maintains that her experience working for a conservative news website and growing up in deep-red Alabama provided a useful perspective on politics and the rise of Trump. “I think I learned a lot from that job,” Collins said.

When asked whether she thinks people have cast her politically because of her time working for the Daily Caller, Collins said she is “completely nonpolitical,” adding that “if people surmise things, that’s fine.” Said Licht: “I don’t even know what her politics are.”

Mostly, this is just how legacy news media operates. Individuals and institutions pretend they are non-partisan conveyers of the truth who are above such petty things as having a stake in what’s going on in the world. To these brain geniuses, “politics” aren’t understood as struggles for power and justice which have real effects on actual people, but a performance of one’s personal beliefs, a branding exercise. And this is how you get a political reporter saying that she’s “completely nonpolitical,” which is itself a branding exercise.

The absolute kindest reading of a journalist saying she is “completely nonpolitical” is that she has a dogshit-dumb idea of what politics are and has nothing of value to contribute to the discussion. The only other possibility is that they’re a pure cynic who for the good of society should probably be exiled to an ice floe, while such things still exist.

Under Licht, CNN has been, according to multiple reports, “reining in partisanship,” or at least the perception of it. The perception of course being that CNN is a “liberal” news organization. Some of Licht’s early moves were to oust media critic Brian Stelter and embark on a “diplomacy tour” of Capitol Hill where he met with members of Congress including Kevin McCarthy, who last year voted to overturn the presidential election results. The message seems clear: Trump’s gone, resistance liberals are out of fashion, time to get back to business as usual and pretend this is all a game. From that vantage point, it makes sense that a pretty white lady with deep conservative roots who proudly claims to bring the view from nowhere would be foisted on viewers as a face of this new, old era.

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