In the face of plummeting ratings, a stubbornly low Q Score, and a corporate strategy to target the coveted 18-34 year old news-watching demographic, CNN stalwart the “Wolf Blitzer persona” will be immediately rebranded as Dragon McCarnage, Extreme Journalist, CNN executives announced yesterday.
McCarnage, who first rose to national prominence with his round-the-clock reporting from Kuwait during the first Gulf War, enjoyed a successful career as a print journalist, author, and part-time representative of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) before transitioning to broadcast journalism in 1990.
As an “elder statesman” of the network, McCarnage will remain a prominent presence across all CNN content delivery platforms. Along with his personal transformation, McCarnage’s primary broadcast vehicle, The Situation Room, will also be radically altered.
The program will be renamed the Sitchagon, and its redesigned set will consist of a wire mesh, octagonal “news cage”, where guests must fight their way out at the conclusion of McCarnage’s signature, hard-hitting interview.
The four exits will be guarded by McCarnage’s masked minions, to be known as the McCarnivores. Interviewees will only be allowed to exit by defeating a McCarnivore outright, fighting to a draw in the opinion of the Sitchagon referee, or in the event of a life-threatening injury.
Following the announced format change, numerous prominent “pre-books” (high-profile guests scheduled in advance) have canceled their scheduled appearances. Several others, including Doris Kearns Goodwin and His Holiness, The 14th Dalai Lama, have vowed to honor their commitments.
The McCarnage persona was developed through an exhaustive creative process that included extensive market research, countless hours of brainstorming, rapid prototyping, and focus-group testing.
Prior to the full realization of the McCarnage concept, several alternate personas reached various stages of development before being abandoned as unworkable, unsustainable or manifestly offensive. Some of the options that were considered include Hercules Firestorm, Krisis Kardashian-Gaga, and Gay Josh.
The actor who currently plays McCarnage, coincidentally named Wolf Blitzer in real life, is resigned to the change but determined to fully commit to CNN management’s dramatic new vision.
“It will be an adjustment certainly”, Blitzer admitted. “Sharing the same name as my character for all these years made it easier to inhabit the role, but I’m sure I will get used to the new persona over time. Frankly, what choice do I have?”, he added.
“The lip-ring is a clip-on, which is a great relief, but the face tattoo (a graffiti-style version of the CNN logo) is actually permanent. The focus-group revealed that McCarnage having a permanent tattoo was essential for authenticity’s sake, or what the kids call ‘street credibility’.”