CNN's Tale of Two Screen Graphics: Beefcake Barack vs. Winky Palin

On Tuesday’s American Morning, CNN showed a contrast (especially on screen) during the 7 am hour between their enthusiasm for Barack Obama’s shirtless photos and Sarah Palin’s discussion of her campaign weeks in review. For Obama, it was "Paparazzi Chase Obama." For Palin, it was "Palin's Campaign Misstep." 

CNN anchor Carol Costello clearly liked the Obama photo: "In the fishbowl that is the White House, Barack Obama can expect to lose a lot of his privacy. But this? Take a look. Seriously. A photographer catching the future commander in chief shirtless on the beach in Hawaii and clearly keeping up his cardio."

Costello interviewed two liberal leaners – Patricia Murphy of Citizenjanepolitics.com and John Avlon of the Daily Beast website. She professed she didn’t want the paparazzi to succeed: "Well, I would expect, Patricia, that this paparazzi, this agency, is making lots of money. They took 37 photos. And, you know, the kids are in their baiting suits. Michelle Obama is in her baiting suit. I don't know. I don't even want to even that of the president and the first lady and their kids."

Avlon declared "I think we are looking at the first pop culture presidency. He's one of the figure of pop figure, a fascination unlike any political figure since Bobby Kennedy and maybe John F. Kennedy. So there is going to be a lot more attention and he's going to resonate far outside the traditional political spectrum for good and for bad and this is on the downside of that spectrum."

That led to this concluding exchange:

COSTELLO: Yes. Like I said, I just don't -- yes, I just don't want to see the president in his bathing suit. I just don't. Maybe it's old-fashioned.

AVLON: Take a stand, Carol. There you go.

COSTELLO: OK. I did. I took a stand. Stop it.

Like the Big Three broadcast networks, CNN was less fixated on the bubbling Blagojevich scandal and more fixated on Obama's abs.

A few minutes earlier, anchor John Roberts and reporter Alina Cho discussed Palin’s interview with Human Events about the campaign, but stayed fixated on mistakes. "Palin’s Campaign Misstep" stayed on screen throughout the piece. At the beginning, first Roberts and then both Roberts and Cho chatted in front of a large photo of Palin’s debate wink, a gesture which clearly annoyed media liberals as too cutesy:

CHO: Of course, we are talking about the Alaska governor and one time VP candidate for the GOP, Sarah Palin, is speaking out again. This time to "Human Events," which named her "Conservative of the Year."

Now during the chat, Palin said of her involvement in the McCain campaign, "My biggest mistake made was that I could have called more shots on this: the opportunities that were not seized to speak to more Americans via media. I was not allowed to do very many interviews and the interviews that I did were not necessarily those I would have chosen."

....But, John, of course, some might argue that when she did speak to the media, a la Katie Couric things didn't go so well for her. And then she said she wanted to call more shots during the campaign. Some might say she didn't make such wise decisions during the campaign, some might argue that she did.

Roberts suggested Palin improved her interview skills after that. Cho's story wasn't quotably nasty, but the contrast is still noticeable.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis