CNN Roundtable ‘(Get To) The Point’ Ridiculed On Twitter: If This Is What Jeff Zucker Has In Store, Cable News Is In Big Trouble

  @christopherzarac.zara@ibtimes.com on April 03 2013 12:38 PM

If you turned on CNN at 10 p.m. this week, you might have thought you were watching a late-night infomercial. You weren’t. That brightly lit roundtable discussion was “(Get To) The Point,” a temporary experiment that on Monday took over the timeslot that had previously belonged to repeat airings of Anderson Cooper’s “AC360."

The show is being described as a weeklong series of special programming and panel commentators, and conventional wisdom suggests that CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker will make the program a permanent fixture if viewer response is enthusiastic. Fox News’ “The Five,” which has a similar format, also began as a temporary offering.

Zucker was expected to make big changes when he took over for Jim Walton at the beginning of this year, and, if nothing else, he’s met those expectations. “The Point” is a stark departure from CNN’s typically boilerplate presentation, with whimsical graphics, harsh lighting and a jocular squad of rotating hosts that includes NBC’s Donny Deutsch, CNN contributor Margaret Hoover and ESPN’s Rick Reilly. Throughout the hour-long program, the on-duty talking heads offer no shortage of free-flying quips about hot topics of the day.

But the joke might be on CNN, if reactions to “The Point” on social media are any indication. “Garbage,” “lame,” “pathetic,” “idiotic” and “truly horrible” are just some of the words being bandied about on Twitter to describe the effort. One person called it “the single most inane news program ever devised,” while another declared it “the worst cable access show I’ve ever seen.”

And it it’s not just everyday tweeters sounding off. Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of the Nation, tweeted that “The Point” makes “Us Weekly seem like Le Monde Diplomatique.”

Granted, it’s easy to mine Twitter for derisive comments about any show on television, but when searching for reactions to “The Point,” the snark vastly outweighed the sycophancy. A few cases in point:

According to reports, ratings would seem to reflect that Twitter sentiment. TVNewser’s Alex Weprin reported on Tuesday that the premiere episode of “The Point” attracted 278,000 viewers, down 48 percent from Anderson Cooper’s first-quarter average in the 10 p.m. timeslot. To make matters worse, rumors circulated last week that Cooper could be on the shortlist of replacements for the embattled Matt Lauer on NBC’s “Today” show, as the Wall Street Journal reported.

Curiously, the Twitter account for CNN’s “(Get To) The Point,” @ThePointCNN, was briefly suspended as of Wednesday morning, only to return by early Wednesday afternoon. CNN, meanwhile, hasn't made any announcements about continuing “The Point” beyond this week. An Anderson Cooper special is scheduled for Friday, so that may very well be the last of it.

CNN is part of the Turner Broadcasting System, a unit of Time Warner Inc. (NYSE:TXW).

Got a news tip? Send me an email. Follow me on Twitter: @christopherzara

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