“Professionalism?” What’s THAT? Julie Chen, CBS and the Descent of Broadcast Journalism

Walter could keep it together. Not Julie Chen.

The Casey Anthony verdict is doing some good: it is exposing the awful deficit in objectivity and professionalism in the broadcast media.

The latest example: while CBS’ “The View” rip-off, “The Talk,” was underway,  viewers saw co-host Julie Chen break down as she tried to read the news that Casey  Anthony had been found not guilty of killing her daughter Caylee. Chen attempted to read the verdict, but was overcome with emotion  and was unable to continue, asking her co-hosts,  “Help me out here.”

In 1937, radio broadcaster Herbert Morrison was correctly criticized for being unable to keep his composure and report the flaming destruction of the zeppelin The Hindenburg without weeping and becoming unintelligible. In 2011, a woman described in her official bio as a “news anchor; reporter; and journalist” couldn’t compose herself to read the news of a not guilty verdict. This is nothing but bottom of the barrel, amateur hour, biased journalism:

1) A professional reporter is supposed to be able to read the news clearly, whatever it is.

2) A professional reporter is obligated to possess sufficient competence and experience  to both overcome emotion and to shield listeners and viewers from her own views about the events being reported.

3) A professional reporter is obligated by objectivity not to be so invested in a particular outcome that she cannot report the news without being rendered mute by elation or disappointment.

4) A professional reporter is supposed to be professional. Walter Cronkite overcame his obvious emotion to clearly and accurately report the death by assassination of President Kennedy live on the air, November 22, 1963. Now, on the same network, one of his successors couldn’t muster the character and skill report that a nonentity had been acquitted of killing her daughter.

Julie Chen disgraced her network, her profession, and, I’m sorry to say, her gender. This is the state of broadcast journalism in 2011; this is what CBS has descended to, from the days of Murrow, Severeid and Cronkite.

That is worth weeping for


12 thoughts on ““Professionalism?” What’s THAT? Julie Chen, CBS and the Descent of Broadcast Journalism

  1. I’ve been asked to take donations for the Jimmy Fund, a charity that helps childhood cancer. The first day I collected was a day my brother and I went up to Boston to help our friend with non-Hodgkin lymphoma because his brother couldn’t help him out because HE found out his wife has breast cancer.

    That was tough. I persevered, but on the other hand, I find it hard to criticize those who lose their composure. On the other hand, that’s one of many reasons I’m not a journalist/anchorheadandshoulders.

    • And the fact that we are hesitant to criticize it is why the standards are falling. You’re exactly right—if you have the job, you have different obligations than those who do not.

  2. I don’t understand why Ms. Chen disgraced her gender. Does everybody who does something unethical disgrace their gender? If so, its not as if any gender has anything left to disgrace.

    • A female professional who acts out the gender stereotype of being too sensitive, tender and emotional to do her job, encourages gender bias. Reporters like Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters have worked hard and well to dispel such stereotypes in the field, and hack like Chen are a backward step.

      • I would think that it’s people who judge an entire gender on the basis of one member of that gender who are disgraced, not the gender itself.

        • That’s fine to say. But when a gender is discriminated against in a profession (the women get most of the ‘soft” stories), it is up to women not to play into the stereotypes.

          • Yeah, I was somewhat too harsh in my criticism. Sorry. I get what you are saying. We all represent the various groups to which we belong by our actions. Sadly, women as a group did not choose Ms. Chen as a representative (unlike, say, CBS, which did and is disgraced). I just find it kind of sad that a whole group that cannot really choose its members can be disgraced by the action of just one of its members

            • It has always been thus. This why the first black man in Major League Baseball had to be a great one, and most of the first 10 were outstanding. It’s not fair. It’s just part of human nature.

      • Now if they could also remember to bifurcate “fact” and “opinion” in their reporting news could become news once again. Gender has nothing to do with it.

  3. Sorry, here’s the bit…

    During the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Cronkite was anchoring the CBS network coverage as violence and protests occurred outside the convention, as well as scuffles inside the convention hall. When Dan Rather was punched to the floor (on camera) by security personnel, Cronkite commented, “I think we’ve got a bunch of thugs here, Dan.”

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