It's hard for me to get upset about the CNN.com article in which a marketing expert, a brand consultant, and others are asked about the feasibility of a Ku Klux Klan rebranding. The piece is just too ridiculous to be toxic. It seems like a gift to Jon Stewart's writers.
...[Klan Imperial Wizard Frank] Ancona, who lives in Missouri, insists there's a new Klan for modern times -- a Klan that's "about educating people to our ideas and getting people to see our point of view to ... help change things."Why would a professional journalist write this? Why would it even be assigned? Why would it be published after it was written?
He said he and those like him can spread that message without violence -- a sort of rebranding of the Klan.
The idea may sound absurd, but is it conceivable?
No, say top marketing experts, brand gurus and historians -- and for many reasons....
Without a clear leader, marketing experts said, crafting and conveying a spin-friendly message is impossible....
For years, press critic Jay Rosen has railed against journalism written with what he calls a "view from nowhere." Journalists who write with a "view from nowhere" claim to be above all of your petty partisanship; the problem is, this perspective leads them to write, or try to write, without any internal moral compass. They seem to think they shouldn't bring any sense of right or wrong to their journalism, the result being that they see the truth as residing midway between two political poles at all times. They're unable to say that a high official is simply wrong, even when that's the case. (Elias Isquith believes this tendency infests recent work by Ezra Klein, Nate Silver, and Jonathan Chait.)
I think CNN's Klan-rebranding article is the result of a version on this worldview. Fox News is seen (accurately) as the 24-hour partisan news channel of the right, and MSNBC is seen (inaccurately) at the 24-hour partisan news channel of the left -- so CNN is trying to be the channel for which news isn't about politics at all. If MSNBC is Bridgegate and Fox is the Bundy Ranch, CNN is the Malaysian jetliner.
Which is fine, I guess, if your key story is the Malaysian jetliner. But CNN apparently wants to reduce everything to Malaysian-jetliner status. CNN wants everything to be down the middle and beyond politics.
And so you get a story like this.