By RODNEY HO/ firstname.lastname@example.org, originally filed Monday, February 15, 2016
The New York Post, which loves to tweak CNN whenever possible since it's a Rupert Murdoch property, went after Atlanta's beloved Robin Meade, HLN "Morning Express" host last week over a possible bathroom build at CNN Center.
Last year, Meade and HLN moved to the main studio abandoned by CNN after the network moved all its major correspondents up to New York, where CNN chief Jeff Zucker could keep closer tabs.
Her show is four hours long, longer than any show CNN has typically aired in that studio. But there is no bathroom close by - unlike the old studio. Twice a show, she often has to run like a sprinter during commercial breaks and sometimes doesn't make it back in time. This video illustrated the dilemma at about the 2:30 point:
So Meade requested a unisex bathroom for her staff that would be close enough to the studio so this wouldn't be an issue. There were no demands. Supposedly, CNN did a cost analysis and said it would cost $100,000 but management has not signed off on doing it.
This is the headline that the New York Post used yesterday with glee:
CNN is also rejiggering its CNN International desk, forcing folks to reapply for their jobs. There is no technical headcount reduction but some duties may be moving to other bureaus. And since these two events are happening at the same time, someone inside CNN fed this info to the Post as if there was some sort of unfair correlation. The reporter cheekily calls the project a "lavish latrine" and the entire action a "malodorous move."
A CNN rep provided the Post (and me) this statement: “Robin inquired about building a bathroom closer to the studio to benefit the team that does a four-hour live show every day. The estimate has no correlation to other company matters.”
The most intriguing part of the Post story had nothing to do with this bathroom. It was some insider saying that Zucker would love CNN headquarters to leave Atlanta completely at some point. That's not a surprise. He is a die-hard New Yorker and the first chief to be based there. He brought daytime anchors Carol Costello and Brooke Baldwin up there. All key CNN brass are now up there. Atlanta is now effectively a still sizable back-office operation for CNN.
There has been a decrease in employees at CNN Center since Zucker arrived three years ago. There is even talk that Turner employees might start taking up space at CNN Center. The Post story postulates that the Atlanta dropoff may increase come 2018 when Time Warner corporate, HBO, Turner, CNN and Warner Bros in Manhattan are moving to new digs at Hudson Yards.
CNN has about 3,200 employees worldwide. I'm not sure how many are now in Atlanta but am awaiting an answer.