Chez Pazienza is a talented writer. He’s been a bona fide guilty pleasure (stage left) since I started my site because I like his style. I tend to believe there should be more of it. Blunt. Honest. Sharp. Envelope-shoving. Etc.
And in keeping with his tendency to spill it all, he’ll be the first to admit he knew this day might come. That he may lose his gig at CNN.
However, I think this sets a lousy precedent.
1. Though you didn’t have to be a brain surgeon to figure out where Chez worked, he never said it.
2. Chez claims he never blogged from work. He admits he checked in on his comments, and he scanned the web. Know someone who works at a computer who hasn’t? Doubt it.
3. You wouldn’t know Chez from Adam in relation to CNN. He’s not a name or a face of the company. In fact, calling him a producer was probably an overstatement seeing as how his job duties had been relegated to turning AP wires into prompter copy. There was no “steering the editorial direction of the news” involved whatsoever.
4. He didn’t just start the blog. He’s been writing online for a year-and-a-half. CNN only found his little corner of the web once his corner got a little bigger. And nowhere along the way in that year-in-a-half had his work raised suspicion in regard to his ability to write news copy in an unbiased manner.
5. CNN puts Glenn Beck, Jack Cafferty, Lou Dobbs, and Nancy Grace on air everyday with no shortage of opinions. It’s clear they speak for themselves but with the sanction of the network that affords them airtime. Had Chez gone to management to get approval for his blog, they would have refused. I don’t have one ounce of doubt about it considering what I was and wasn’t allowed to do during my tenure. So what is CNN saying? You’re allowed to express your opinion if you work for us, but only if we can make money off said opinion? Because it seems to me that’s the only distinction between what the talent’s doing and what the writer’s doing.
I started writing online after leaving the network because it was refreshing to be me again without constraint. I never jeopardized my career while at CNN because I respected the rules in place to protect the institution. Not anymore.