Koppel Critiques CNN: If They “Were Serious” About Hard News, They Wouldn’t Bury ‘Presents’ On Sunday Nights

By Brian 

Ted Koppel entered The Situation Room this afternoon. (“Now, what kind of a situation are we going to have today?,” he asked.) Wolf Blitzer, David Bohrman, and Andrea Koppel were among the interviewers. ABC alum and CNN analyst Jeff Greenfield also asked a couple questions. They provoked some interesting responses:

 GREENFIELD: In your view, then — let me be a little provocative of my own current house. If one of the cable networks said, “You know what?

We’ll turn off some of those monitors, and we’ll be second by 50 seconds. And maybe we’ll take a half an hour to look at a subject that maybe even doesn’t involve a teenage girl,” do you think that there’d be an audience that would find it? If we built it, would they come?

KOPPEL: Yes. Not immediately, I don’t think they would. And, you know, the caveat with all of this is, we have to do it well. We have to do it in an interesting fashion. You can’t just put it out there and say, “Here it is. Here’s your spinach. Now eat it.” It’s got to be dressed up properly, it’s got to be produced well, it’s got to be reported well.

And the relevance of that story to the lives of our audience has to be made.

Look, we are living in a time when there are more people around the world plotting bad things for the United States of America. And yet, we are also at a time when we know less about what’s going on in those countries. And I must say, having said some less than flattering things about the cable networks, I think the cable networks are still doing a better job these days of covering what’s happening overseas than we are.

But I feel more comfortable if, instead of just having local reporters covering events in their own countries, we had more American reporters who were specialists in those countries and reporting it the way that we used to 20, 30 years ago.

BLITZER: I will point to you, Ted, that CNN does have an excellent documentary series called “CNN Presents” that we air on Sunday nights over the weekend. Last weekend, a fabulous one-hour look inside North Korea.

KOPPEL: Now, tell me again. When is that on?

BLITZER: It’s on Sunday nights.

KOPPEL: Sunday nights, I see.

BLITZER: Sunday nights. A lot of people watch television on Sunday nights, you might be surprised.

KOPPEL: Not that many.

BLITZER: But it’s really…

KOPPEL: You know, if CNN were serious about that, it would put it on on Monday evenings and Tuesday evenings and Wednesday evenings. You know, those are the times — compete with the networks. Go up against the networks in prime time with some of those broadcasts. I agree with you.

You do some fantastic stuff. I’m talking about CNN. But don’t bury it on a Sunday night.