Saturday, March 26, 2011

Aaron Brown vs. Anderson Cooper?

If you read our sister blog, All Things CNN, you are aware of the brouhaha that Aaron Brown stirred up this week when he said, "“I know the difference between journalism and a slogan. ‘Keeping them honest’ is a slogan.”

The definition of 'slogan' in Webster's is: 'word or phrase used to express a characteristic position or stand or a goal to be achieved. '

'Keeping Them Honest' seems like a slogan to me too, but is there anything wrong with that? Most every network and cable channel use slogans to brand their programing. For example there's NBC current 'More Colorful', ABC's 'Still the One' and 'Watch the Best on CBS'.

The bigger issue? Was Aaron implying that Anderson is not a journalist?

Aaron and Anderson had a wonderful on air chemistry and in the time that has past since Brown was unceremoniously dumped by CNN nothing has led me to believe that he blames Cooper for his ouster. In fact he said in an interview on TVNewser in 2007, a full 2 years after leaving CNN that he didn't harbor a grudge. Here's a bit of Brian Stelter's interview:

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Cooper was paired with Brown on NewsNight. CNN president Jon Klein called the duo “fire and ice.”

“I wasn’t exactly sure how the game was going to play out, but I didn’t think it was going to play out well for me,” Brown said.

He knew he didn’t want to swap with Cooper and take the 7pm hour: “I just felt if this was going to go south, and it clearly was, I’d rather just walk away from it.”

At one point, Brown’s whole staff was moved to the 7pm hour. “I was left without a producer or a staff, and I thought okay, I get it. I think they wanted his production people to be producing whatever the new effort was.”

On November 2, Klein chose fire, and Brown walked away. NewsNight became 360, and Brown didn’t even say goodbye on the air.

“I would not quarrel with the argument that I was replaced by a younger, more handsome model,” Brown said, adding that he meant “model” in the car definition, not in the fashion definition.

Brown is rational: “It’s a business. They made a business decision. I never thought I’d stay there forever.” He added: “I’m always a little bit amazed at what people expect — that I’d be upset or angry or anything like that. I honestly was none of those things.”

And he said he doesn’t harbor any ill will toward Cooper. “I thought he did a good job” reporting from the Gulf Coast, Brown said. “It’s kind of different from the way I do business. He did terrifically well there.”

Brown pointed out that CNN “threw an incredible amount of money and marketing power” at 360, while “we got no help in that regard.”

Brown’s description of his departure from CNN always comes back to the reality of the television business.

“If you do what I do for a living long enough, you know how this stuff plays out,” he said.

He said he wishes the network nothing but good luck, adding: “I want them to do well. I really want them to do well.”

Brown freely calls himself “kind of a dinosaur, old-school anchorman,” and CNN clearly went in a different direction. For the past 20 months, Brown has been thinking about what he wants to do next.

“It’s much clearer to me what I don’t want to do than what I do want to do,” Brown said. “I certainly don’t want to anchor another cable news show.”

I have always thought CNN treated Brown shoddily and if he has hard feelings toward CNN's management I wouldn't blame him. But if those hard feelings extend to Anderson Cooper I would be deeply disappointed and more than a little surprised.

If you weren't around back in 2005 to experience CNN's Fire and Ice team here's a little retrospective.

Awkward TV moments:

Doomsday fish:


Inside joke:

Here's Anderson Cooper's tribute to Aaron that aired on the night that AC took over Brown's time slot.

I'll end tonight's post with my personal get well wishes to Aaron Brown as he recovers from heart surgery, preformed on Friday in Phoenix. ~ Phebe

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ACAnderFan said...

I think Aaron Brown was implying that Anderson isn't a journalist. I think it was a low blow on his part. It was a snooty backhanded remark. I think he's still bitter over how things turned out for him at CNN. Its been quite a few years, he needs to let it go. I think in the end things worked out fine for him, he's teaching a journlism class.

tt said...

I noticed that the "keeping them honest" comment was the only one from the interview that was not accompanied by any related clear explanation or context, so we don't know what else Aaron might have said (or how hard the interviewer tried to get him to say something concerning Anderson that could be presented as perhaps negative). The press loves the idea of them having dramatic personal tensions and bitterness between them, some blogs like the Huffington Post took the remarks about CNN as a network and AC from the interview and misrepresented them under a "AB slags off AC" headline as if the CNN network and AC stuff were all Aaron had to say.

Aaron had a go at everyone. Maybe he wanted to get some attention for some reason? He went on at length about how he is a fan of Kathleen Parker and has dim views of Spitzer. He slighted both FOX and MSNBC. He said Olbermann is the same as O'Reilly (unfair since Olbermann is honest and tried to be responsible) and Colbert is a superior version of O'Reilly.

Anyway, whatever Aaron's idea was, I wish him health.

AthenaNYC said...

Not sure what that comment meant.

Honestly I think Aaron Brown was a fantastic addition to CNN ... was riveted on 9/11 and after on his coverage.

I love AC360 - but miss Aaron Brown too.

Wishing him a speedy recovery!

judy said...

Aaron Brown didn't say anything negative all these years about AC because there was probably something in his contract that prevented him from doing so.
It is my understanding that Brown was paid in full when he left CNN and his contract was a lucrative one. But these contracts have provisions, especially if they end prematurely as his did.
I always considered him a gentleman until he slighted AC and the remark was ill timed, especially because 360 has been doing well.
While I wish Aaron the best, I no longer think of him as a gentleman, but another "Dan Rathernot," and a bitter one at that.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Aaron is wondering, like many people, why CNN keeps Anderson on the air when his ratings have been so low. and I don't buy that "because Anderson is their only big name", like Aaron pointed out, CNN has been pumping a lot of money into Anderson and spent very little on Aaron. yet Anderson's program is not doing well and they keep him on the air?

Anonymous said...

You know when Anderson popped up alone years ago at 10, I was upset that this young whippersnapper had taken Aaron's place. I liked that they had paired them together, not realizing Aaron didn't want it.

Anyway years later I have to admit I am a fan of Anderson.

I do wish Aaron all the best with his surgery.

Thank you

Samantha said...

I think Arron Brown was implying that what it takes to make it in cable news today is more than the old-school newsman qualities. They need a spin, a hook, i.e. a slogan and all that implies.

Anderson Cooper was more equipped to play that game.