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Zahn vs Van Susteren

The media sources I chose to compare are CNN’s talk show “Paula Zahn Now? and Fox News Channel’s talk show “On the Record Van Susteren?. These talks shows are both hosted by female respondents and are aired on channels that have a long standing rivalry. This is the first I had watched either show. I picked these particular shows as they both advertised to cover the day’s top stories in news.


CNN News
Show: “Paula Zahn Now?
Comcast Cable Description “Emmy-winning anchor reviews the day’s top stories and interviews newsmakers (News Magazine)?

-Covered comments by General John Abizaid made on Capital Hill today.
-Paula interviewed Jamie McIntyre, a CNN pentagon reporter, regarding the General’s comments. General is pushing for “beefed up version of current policy?. General is not interested in phased withdrawal or increased amount of soldiers.
-during interview pictures of troops shown and clips of General’s meeting

-Interview with Dana Bush, CNN White House Correspondent, regarding meeting of Armed Service Committee.
-Top contenders for the presidential election on committee. Clips of the meeting shown which comments were made by John McCain who feels a status quo approach to the war in Iraq is not acceptable. Comments also made by Hilary Clinton.
-Dana reports the Republicans being very aggressive with comments at meeting.

-Brief report on the chance Rumsfield will be put on trial for war crimes
-International human rights lawyers may file charges in German court
-Will be filed on behalf of 12 detainees that experienced extreme war torture

Commercial Break:
-mention that show is supported by Volvo
-Volvo Ad
-Movie preview for “Bobby?
-Delta/American Express Credit Card Ad
-EHarmony Dating Service
-Radisson Hotel and Sleep number beds

-Panel discussion on the possibility Rumsfield facing trial for war crimes
-Interviews with:
Vince Warren, director of Center of Constitutional Rights: Tried first case in Germany and believes it was dismissed because of pressure from the US Government. Believes case will be tried because there’s new prosecution and Janet Karpentry will testify.

Noel Francisco, former counsel to President Bush: Trial pressure because of special interest groups which disagree with American Foreign Policy. Predicts the charges will not go to trial.

Adam Zagorin, Time magazine correspondent: No matter what occurs this trial is an embarrassment to the US.

Discussion time short; not much time allotted
Commercial Break:
-Anderson Cooper preview, CNN show
-Coors ad urging parents to prevent underage drinking MVPParents.com
-ESPN Football/Comcast
-Lou Dobs preview, CNN show

-Discussion surrounding new Al Jeezera English version telecast
-is it news or propaganda??
-Interview with Glen Beck, talk show host from Headline News. Beck has a show regarding media and how it does not always depict the truth.
-Beck does not believe Al Jeezera will make it to US TV sources.
-showed examples of items aired on Hizbuallah TV by Islamic extremists. Clip showed an interview with a 3yr old who considered Jews apes and pigs. Clip showed of a 13 yr old proud of this father who was a suicide bomber.
-Beck makes note of the importance of the public knowing about such radical television and what influence it can have.

Commercial Break
-Ameriprise Financial
-Volvo Ad
-Cingular-Xmas Theme
-British Airways
-Move preview for “The Queen?

-Report on Ehren Watada, 29yr old soldier refusing to deploy to Iraq who faces charges by military.
-Interview conducted with Watada.
-Watada states he enlisted in the military to protect his Country. He found out that the US Government mislead the army and public as to the reasons for invading Iraq. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Watada does not want to fight in a war that is illegal and immoral. He was willing to deploy to other areas, like Afghanistan, but the army would not allow it.
-Watada denied his reason for refusal was that he was afraid to be killed. Watada stated that’s the risk you take whenever you are in the military.

Panel discussion in reaction to Ehren Watada’s refusal to serve in Iraq:

Paul Rieckholff, former Army leader in Iraq: Understands Watada’s political stance but his actions cannot be accepted. Army needs to maintain order and Watada is breaking the law.

Amy Goodman, host of “Democracy Now? TV and radio show: Supports Watada’s actions and they are very significant.

Josh Castell, former Army specialist who served in Iraq at Abu Ghraib: Watada’s actions are justified and give moral courage to other soldiers. Have an obligation to disobey all unlawful orders which is outlined in the Constitution.

Commercial Break:
-Stainmaster carpet
- Coors ad urging parents to prevent underage drinking MVPParents.com
-CDW-retirement planning
-Volvo ad
-Vonage phone

-Discussion regarding OJ’s Book “If I did it, here’s how it happened?.
-Zahn reports on content of book and two part TV interview scheduled to air on the Fox Network
-Ted Rowlands, CNN reporter
-During report pictures showed of Nicole Brown, Ron Goldman and OJ
-Statement read by Nicole Brown’s sister regarding outrage from family
-Interview conducted with Karl Manders attorney for Goldman family
-Manders states plans to go after money from book publishing and Fox TV interviews as OJ as an outstanding judgment from civil suit
-Manders reports how inconsiderate Fox Network is being and how ironic that the interview is airing during the holidays

-Brief coverage on today’s Stock Market ratings

-Brief coverage on Enron executive sentenced for securities fraud

Commercial Break:
-Accenture Ad
-5 Eyewitness News
-Home security system
-Tires Plus

-Discussion covering concerns with emergency room treatment.
-Story reported by Dr Sarah Goldkin and Sanjay Gupta, CNN reporter
-concern with waived consent in cases of extreme trauma
-Wall Street Journal report on excessive use of polyheme (fake blood) in emergency rooms. Polyheme use has not been researched enough and there has been an increase of heart attacks in patients that have been treated with it.
-Dr Goldkin and Dr Kiltzman give their opinions
-Interview with Hillary Williams, a country singer, who was treated with Polyheme and supports its use.

-During entire show rolling news flashes on the bottom of TV screen
-Show Ended-

Fox News Channel
Show: “On the Record Van Susteren?
Comcast Cable Description: Greta Van Susteren “The host and lawyer conduct interviews and covers breaking news (talk).?

Show starts right into the news. No introduction or opening music or ads

-Report on Michelle Young who was murdered 13 days ago in Raleigh, North Carolina.
-Van Susteren talks with Fox News reporter Jim at the scene of the crime.
-The facts of the crime are given by Van Susteren
-Michelle was killed sometime between after midnight and was found dead in her home by Michelle’s sister
-Jason, Michelle’s husband was out of town. He called the sister to go to the home to retrieve a fax that he did not want Michelle to see.
-2yr old child was alive in the home when Michelle was found. Michelle also pregnant
-Van Susteren asks several questions of Jim regarding the crime scene. Many pictures are shown
-Van Sustern very inquisitive and exchanges dialogue with Jim the reporter
-Discussion lengthy

-Interview conducted with Jeanine Pirror an experienced prosecutor, judge and District Attorney.
-Discussions timeline of Young’s murder and what Pirror’s opinion is
-Pirror questions the integrity and alibis of Young’s friends who were with Young until 10:30pm the evening she was killed

-Van Susteren continues discussion with Jim Fox News reporter
-Asks about if the friends have been checked out and what Young’s work schedule
-Continued suspicion discussed about Young’s husband

Commercial Break:
-Burlington Coat Factory
-Ameriprise Financial
-Kare 11
-Mills Fleet Farm
--commercials seemed short in duration—

News Break by Harris Faulkner, Fox News Reporter:
-Briefly reports on the following:
-Iranian president and nuclear issues
-US Airway looking to buy Delta airlines
-Pension Report

-Report on Renton Duckett, toddler that has been reported missing since August 27th.
-Van Susteren gives facts of story
-Trenton reported missing by mother, Melinda. Report was suspicious and a lot of pressure was put on mother. Mother committed suicide on Sept 8th.

-Discussion with Todd Connor, Fox News reporter, regarding latest news on the case.
-Clip show of police officer at news conference relaying new facts on the case
-Officer reports that eye witness that saw mother and child on day of reported abduction. Mother came to the Wendy’s where witness is employed two times on that day; once with son and once without. Police believe that Melinda staged the abduction which gives hope that Trenton is still alive.

-Conner and Van Susteren discussed police report. Van Susteren questions why Wendy’s employee waited so long to come forward. Discuss report by police. Van Susteren asks questions to Connor regarding other facts on the case.

-Van Susteren reports on 3 suicide notes written by Melinda. Stated she would not be a good mother to Trenton but talks in the present tense which police are relaying on the implication that Trenton is still living.

-Discussion lengthy

-Van Susteren previews Fox News show O’Reily Factor

Commercial Break:
-Exxon Mobile
-CVS Pharmacy

-Report by Van Susteren on OJ’s book “If I did it, here’s how it happened?.
-Van Susteren reports that Ms. Regan the publisher believes this could be OJ’s confession
-Van Susteren reads statement by Denise Brown, Nicole Brown’s sister, regarding the family’s opinion about the book

-Interview with John Q Kelly an attorney for the Brown family.
-Kelly states how OJ is making a mockery of the Brown and Goldman families. Kelly believes OJ’s motive is to get attention. Kelly was the lawyer in the OJ’s Civil Suit and recalls OJ’s crazy demeanor and creepy presence during the hearing.
-Van Susteren asks questions during time with Kelly

-Interview Conducted with Gloria Ailred who also has books published by Judith Regan.
-Van Susteren asks Gloria her opinion of the book and possible reasons why OJ would write it

-During entire segment pictures of OJ are shown. He is shown during trial but most are of him after trial signing autographs and interacting with the public. Short segments of his Fox News interview are also shown.

Commercial Break:
-US Post Office
-Burlington Coat Factory
-Ambien CR-sleeping medication

-Report covered by Van Susteren on campus attacks occurring in Florida
-Video surveillance shown of attack in an alley
-Sketch shown of suspect
- Police crime tip line number shown and Van Susteren urged anyone with information to call

-Report by Van Susteren on sex scandals in Colorado High School
-Chuck Murphy, Fox News reporter gives details of the stories
-29 yr old teacher who is the wife of the principal is charged with sleeping with a 17 year old student
-Son of the school president has pleaded guilty of fondling a 13 yr old student
-Van Susteren asks more details of each of the crimes
-Murphy reports that information is limited as minors are involved so information has been kept confidential
-It is not clear if the 17 yr old student involved will cooperate with authorities on the charges

Commercial Break:
-Dish TV
-Blood Pressure
-Western Hotel
-Comcast/Happy Feet movie
-Call of the Wild
-Time life CD collection sale

News Break by Harris Faulkner, Fox News reporter
-Briefly reports on the following:
-Bush’s visit to Singapore and discussion of US/Asia relations
-2008 exploratory
-Federal Reserve-inflation concerns
-Post Office-cut time to wait for commemorative stamps from 10 to 5
years. Wait for Presidents wait will remain one year.

-Van Susteren continues report on sex scandal at Colorado high school
-Interview with Carrie McCandless.
-McCandless reviews age of consent. If person is under age 18 there is no waiver of the age of consent law when sex is with a person of trust.
-Van Susteren discusses this with McCandless

Commercial Break:
-Lexmark copiers
-John Hancock retirement
-Hummer Ad
-Breath right

-Van Susteren reports on storms on the East Coast
-Chris Knowles gives weather report with East Coast being primary focus

- During entire show rolling news flashes on the bottom of TV screen

-Show Ended-


What I found most interesting when researching both of these shows was that Zahn had previously been employed with Fox News as Van Susteren had previously been employed by CNN. Zahn went to CNN after she was fired from Fox News for contract violations. Van Susteren went to Fox News soon after Zahn was hired at CNN. Rumors have it that Van Susteren was upset by all the attention Zahn was receiving although Van Susteren denies this in the reports that I have read. Another fact that I found interesting is that Van Susteren had various changes made to her appearance via plastic surgery after her departure with CNN. Both women have a similar physical appearance A majority of the news related talk shows on both of these networks are hosted by males.
CNN is thought to have a more liberal agenda and is argued to slant stories towards US interest when reporting on world conflict and wars. As I watched Zahn’s show I did notice that those panelists that had more of a liberal view on the topic were given more time to discuss and were asked more questions. The less liberal panelists were given less time or asked less controversial questions. Zahn held two different panel discussions during her hour show. Zahn covered a variety of topics that were also top stories on other news sources on the day it aired. Zahn used a mix of interviews and video clips to report the story.
Fox News is thought to have a more conservative political position and is thought to have a more Republican following. As I watched it was difficult to get a sense of the shows political position as no specific political topics were covered. Although Van Susteren was the host of the show, she also did most of the questioning and directing of the stories. Van Susteren has a legal background working in the past as an attorney and legal analyst. It was obvious by the way Van Susteren questioned the reporters as an attorney would. It was interesting to see the stories covered on Van Susteren’s show. The advertisement of the show stated the show would cover breaking news. Van Susteren heavily covered stories on crimes in the news rather than an overview of topics.


My first observation with both of these shows was the overall presentation. Zahn’s show had more music and hype than Van Susteren’s. Van Susteren’s show began without any music or fancy introduction. Zahn was pictured in a variety of settings throughout the show. During her interview with Glen Beck, both were sitting in stools across from each other. During her panel discussions Zahn was sitting at a professional desk with TV screens to see those panelists that were not present with her. Van Susteren dressed more masculine, was always pictured at a professional desk and a computer monitor was near her reach. CNN played more on Zahn’s sex appeal than Fox News did with Van Susteren. Van Susteren was dressed very business like whereas Zahn was dressed more youthfully and fresh.
I was hoping to have more content comparison in relation to the stories both of these shows reported. Van Susteren’s show turned out to be a lot different that I had expected. One story both shows reported on was the upcoming release of OJ’s book. This is particularly interesting as Fox Broadcasting is the one who conducted the controversial two part interview with OJ. Zahn’s coverage of the story was more lengthy that Van Susteren’s. Zahn definitely made reference to the Fox Broadcasting involvement and allowed the Goldman’s attorney who was interviewed to further bring attention to this connection.
Zahn included a mix of panel and individual interviews to provide reports. This was helpful but as I mentioned earlier the panelists most always represented a more liberal view. On both stories that panel discussions were held there were always two of three panelists that were more liberal. The more conservative of the three panelists was given little of the air time compared to the other panelists. Zahn covered every topic in some detail. At times I found that some of the discussions were cut short but for the sake of time this was of course limited. I felt Zahn did little to add to the discussion or ask very intriguing or taboo questions. She was more of the time keeper of the show.
On the other hand Van Susteren was definitely in control of her entire show. She covered a few stories in great detail. Even when she had reporters giving her the facts she pressed them for questions just as an attorney would. She was more aggressive in her inquiry into the stories reported than Zahn. Van Susteren did have a few interviews with outsiders during her show but they did little to add to the story as they did in Zahn’s show. A lot of the content of the show was discussions between Van Susteren and a Fox News reporter. The show was advertised to cover “breaking news “ but I was not impressed with the coverage. The primary focus was on highly publicized crime. I was annoyed by the two “New Breaks? held during the broadcast. These breaks lasted about one to two minutes and covered four to five news topics. I found them out of place in the show and also found myself wanting additional information on the topics covered. The other portions of the show were covered in great detail and it didn’t make sense to have these news flashes.