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WGN Now Trump TV

After WGN-TV gave itself loud cheers for "landing" an interview with President Trump on Tuesday, anchor and face-of-the franchise Joe Donlon managed to eviscerate WGN's old reputation and humiliate its new national news show.

That self-cheer should have been your first clue.

We were hoping for 60 Minutes but got Kukla, Fran and Ollie.

Even the normally passive Chicago media observer Robert Feder was embarrassed. "Disappointing," he wrote, but then what did anyone expect?

WGN America Executive Vice President and old Trump confederate Sean Compton "landing" the interview was like Fox and Friends shill-on-command Steve Doocy "landing" a Trump interview. He sits in a motionless stupor at his studio desk, and Trump calls regularly like a lonely stalker.

Nexstar joined the Kool-Aid tea party. It wasn't so much evil, as it was a waste of time and oxygen.

This Donlon interview performance was not journalistic softball. It was an infomercial Nerf ball. (And aren't all the women who play "spikes-up" take-no-prisoners fastpitch softball getting fed up with their sport being used as a metaphor for wussiness?)

Television news has fought the self-inflicted image that it is thoughtless and banal for decades. Every few years, TV news gets a chance to prove that reputation is a slander.

You hope for Uncle Walter. You get Steve Doocy.

Donlon was a tourist who had parachuted into a strange, unknown land, and did not know a thing about it. Economy. pandemic, national violence? Trump issued his standard provably untrue talking points, and Donlon said nothing.

No fact-checking.

For a new news operation that claims its mantra is impartiality, WGN's national face seemed amazingly limp and uninvolved in truth-seeking.

At one point, Donlon called Trump "the most media-savvy president we've had . . . You understand how the media works." This came after the president asserted "the press is fake. They don't write the truth."

Donlon's follow? There wasn't one. Trump was running this interview.

This was an interview that was supposed validate Nexstar's big league ambitions. It was drooling nonsense.

Note to Nexstar: Get your "just the facts" simulation off the stage. It's boring and, to this point, useless.

As for Donlon's slack-jawed effort, it was barely stern and subtle enough to be called public relations.

In the course of 20 minutes, Donlon allowed the president to pass the buck on 200,000 American pandemic deaths to China and the CDC without challenge.

As one of three anchors on News Nation, Nexstar Media's primetime cable newscast, Donlon had a chance to plant the flag on the beachhead.

Instead, he impaled himself and Nexstar on the flagpole.

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See also:

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And just to show you the reach of "interviews" like this, visit America's local TV stations, where most people still get their news.

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David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, and more importantly, the former author of the Beachwood's late, great "The Week In WTF" column. His most recent piece for us was Notre Dame's Deadly Game. You can also check him out at his Theeditor50's blog. He welcomes your comments.



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Posted on September 24, 2020


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