In A League Of Her Own


Take all the anger and shock I felt hearing Miles and co were let go, add in the sadness of knowing Jamie and Kathleen are leaving too, and then triple it.

That’s where I am right now finding out about Kelli.

Put aside the fact there is no better-connected Justice Correspondent on the planet and you can kiss your early access to important national security news goodbye, no woman knows the ins and outs of CNN and the business of TV news like Kelli Arena. And while most correspondents would take this seniority and squirrel it away for personal gain, Kelli made a point of mentoring young reporters and producers she felt were truly committed. She had no patience for the fluffy talking heads or the chippies who just wanted to see themselves on TV. However, if you proved yourself worthy of her attention, she gave you everything she had.

It’s just one of the zillion reasons I adore her.

Professionally, there’s no replacement they could put in that Justice/National Security role that will give you, the viewer, the information you’re looking for. It takes years to build the sources Kelli brought to the table. Just like Jamie got you the scoop from the Pentagon and Miles had the contacts at NASA and knew science and aviation, real reporters worth their salt aren’t interchangeable little pieces. It’s sad the head of CNN thinks they are.

In case you thought Kelli was “just another CNN reporter,” take a quick look at her history with the Cable News Network. From her bio – which I am sure they will waste no time taking offline (click to see bigger):

Besides being a professional powerhouse, Kelli has also been an incredible friend to me both during and since CNN, and assuming it wasn’t her choice to bolt right before Christmas, Klein – once again – made a huge, huge mistake.

4 thoughts on “In A League Of Her Own”

  1. Our community of fans supports CNN.

    This abrupt loss of talent, with no real explanation creates the perception that the talent is retreating from unpleasant realities. It’s terrifying. This month feels so intimidating. Especially, that the talent is expressing so little disapproval.

    One only need look as far as this blog to see the good that will come out of the talent leaving. Most will follow the excellent example set by Jacki Schechner, who successfully made the leap from the “CNN Internet Chick” everyone liked to become the National Communications Director for Health Care For America.

    Now, if only one of these successful
    on air talents can throw a lifeline to Chez.

  2. “CNNfan” is insane.

    “Supporting” an entity such as CNN doesn’t mean being a slavering sycophant (unless, of course, you’re a cheerleader for GWB). It means that you also want what’s best for that entity—and CNN is increasingly making horrifying choices that directly affect its ongoing credibility. CNN is increasingly becoming an entertainment resource and leaving its most critical assets—its credibility, its neutrality, and its best journalists—in the dust.

    How “CNNfan” can possibly figure that journalists being let go by a corporation are somehow “retreating from unpleasant realities” is equally bizarre and unhinged. When one is dismissed from an organization, it’s not the same as quitting. Letting talent go is not the same as that talent in retreat.

    As CNN empties itself of talented journalists and concentrates on fluffier fare, its usefulness as a news organization declines at an ever increasing rate. Even Anderson Cooper is now moonlighting on 60 Minutes in order to get some real journalism in. At some point, the Cable News Network will wear that name only in an ironic sense unless the board of directors comes to its senses, fires Klein, and starts getting serious about the news again.

    Indeed, I stopped watching CNN about three or four years ago; the decline in CNN’s quality has been remarkable. Turning on CNN now simply results in massive graphics assaults, lots of vapidity and frankly, risks brain damage. It’s hard not to feel that they are now well on their way towards the theoretical limit of Dumb: the FOX Event Horizon, where all coherent thought is sacrificed in favor of rampant partisanism.

    Unfortunately, fixing the problem will cost CNN more than it would have to prevent the problem. Hiring back good journalists once you’ve let them go tends to be a bit more expensive. But it is inevitably what CNN will have to do to restore its credibility and its central purpose. Alternatively, the board of directors will simply allow Klein to gut the network and turn it into Spike-TV-with-suits.

    I miss CNN. I’d like it back. But for now, it’s become a joke, and not a particularly clever one.

  3. Lucky adventurers! You are favored with good fortune, a rational mind, able to put your opposing speculation in sane terms. I prefer to speculate more in favor of CNN, specifically President Jon Klein. And I think bloggers are also indirectly sympathizing that Jon Klein is not immuned from being fired by the Board of Directors. On that point, I will base the following dramatization to illustrate how the reality of business often differs from the public perception:


    The Board of Directors call an emergency meeting, speaking into the loud speaker, “Good morning, Mr. Klein. Please close the door behind you.” Mr. Klein closes the door and stands before the Board of Directors in a large auditorium to view a presentation. “We called this meeting to discuss how the ireport.com domain name just got us investigated by the SEC for giving Steve Jobs a fake heart attack.” The presentation moves to the next slide of Steve Jobs onstage with ‘REPORTS OF MY DEATH ARE GREATLY EXAGGERATED’ in big letters behind him. The Board said, “In hindsight, paying $750,000.00 for the iReport domain name was an unwise allocation of resources.” and they added, “We’ve had to come to a tough decision.” All eyes on Jon, a brief silence. “Jon, we need you to cut the On Air Talent by 15% and the support staff by 12%.”

    Caught by surprise, Jon exclaimed, “What ?!?! 27% ?!?!” Jon defended the personnel. “It is holiday season, that is insane!”. Jon tried to compromise in favor of the personnel. “How about 3% On Air Talent? And 2% staff? But no more.” he asked, trying to save jobs, “I don’t even know how we are going to do that, without cutting into our top On Air Talent.”

    “No”, The Board mandated. “We don’t care how you do it, Jon. Plan B is to do 30% and fire you.” Then sympathized, “But don’t worry Jon. If it comes to plan B, you have done a great service for the company, and we are certain you will catch on at another news outlet.”

    My dramatization is a fictional account. No offense to any actual Board of Directors. Applying common sense, we know that the job of the President of any company includes the responsibility to hire and fire employees. Please let me convince you that Jonathan Klein was doing his job and is a fantastic CNN US President. Sharing my real life story, I feel that Jonathan Klein is an unsung hero. Year after year after year, Jon has volunteered his support for our free, open CNNfan community. Reading all these negative comments has me a step away from making a tearful viral video, “LEAVE JONATHAN ALONE!!!

  4. I am really sorry about what happened to your friend Ms. Arena and so many others. My own personal horror with CNN is its relationship with CBN, David Brody, and Pat Robertson.
    I just found your blog this morning and am making my way through it after linking to you from Huffington Post. I apologize for being so obnoxious with my comments.
    I loved that network and kept CBN.com on my desktop as a trusted resource.

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