On Tuesday night, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow lauded the long-ago coverage of CNN, contrasting it with the network’s more contemporary offerings: “CNN today is not what it used to be.”
On Wednesday, the Erik Wemple Blog placed that assessment before CNN’s Anderson Cooper, who has been camped out in Kiev, Ukraine, to report on the crisis. Cooper replied that he didn’t feel too compelled to respond. “We’re certainly doing what CNN does best, which is broadcasting important stories.” He continued, “I’ve been looking around, and I am not seeing a lot of other anchors around here. I’m not seeing anybody.”
Cooper did mention he’d heard that Fox News anchor Shepard Smith was in-country — and that’s correct. The Erik Wemple Blog polled the major television networks on their Ukraine deployment. CBS News reported having “several correspondents” in the region, including Charlie D’Agata in Kiev and Elizabeth Palmer in Crimea. TVNewser reported on Monday that ABC News and NBC News had placed at least one correspondent each in the region. As reported earlier this week, CNN deployed seven reporters/anchors, including Cooper, to Russian and Ukraine.
In his chat with the Erik Wemple Blog, Cooper cited all manner of difficulties in presenting the news from Ukraine. “I…see stuff crossing the wires from a variety of sources that are suspect at best,” he says. “We’re cautious about reporting anything without verifying it ourselves.”
One story that’s remarkably easy to verify is how the authorities are censoring your own reporters — and the more reporters you have, the better your chances of encountering such a juicy scenario. Along those lines, one of CNN’s correspondents, Anna Coren, reported to Cooper last night via phone on CNN’s air that she was told to cease broadcasting by the management of her hotel in Crimea. “We asked for the reason; they didn’t give us one,” said Coren. “We get the feeling — very strong feeling — that they are getting pressure,” either from local militia or from the Crimean government, reported Coren. Cold War-style information suppression — we’ll take that over an update on the legality of a Crimean referendum any time.