The Breakfast Table

The Crassness of 9/11 Branding Attempts

Dear David,

Very funny riff about God striking me down and all. But, typically, he’s chosen to torment me in petty ways: All morning I’ve had plumbers knocking out tiles over my bathtub because of some leak that may portend a flood if not THE flood Tom Friedman seems so comfortable about.

I, too, feel torn about the names and the music although, characteristically, I tend to blame myself—I feel the danger of oversacralization, but I think there’s something wrong with me when I let the scrim of the media’s Offical State Piety prevent me from connecting me with the real grief out there.

Again I speak as someone who didn’t lose anyone close to me on 9/11, and every once in a while the grief does break through the scrim. But jeez, the scrim can be irritating. Especially on CNN today.

I tune into Aaron Brown, CNN’s unctuous anchor whose shtick, as he constantly reminds us in promos, is that he’s a REAL NEWSMAN, not some blow-dried TV clone. (Except do REAL NEWSMEN color their hair? Doesn’t his oxblood shoe-polish color look as if it’s had some assistance? I only raise this unworthy question—and I’m willing to be proven wrong—because he’s so big on being the real deal in his promos.) And maybe I wouldn’t be on his case at all if CNN weren’t the most shameless network in attempting to brand 9/11 with its graphics. I’m watching Aaron Brown covering the Bush couple’s visit to the Pennsylvania plane crash site, and he’s telling us just how special the president’s private moments with the grieving families are (all the while zooming in on them). But meanwhile across the bottom of the screen is a giant CNN branding band, more prominent than on any network I’ve seen yet that reads:

CNN September 11: A Year Later.

How incredibly tacky to be so concerned with branding the event, especially in an inept way that can easily be read as


Or maybe that’s what they want.

Even Fox’s “9/11: The Day America Changed” is more tastefully done. And the other networks barely brand at all.

Do you think we should ask Slate to give us a branding band?