Ever Heard of a “CNN Drop?”

March 31, 2014 at 11:15 AM Leave a comment

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This morning I listened to KGNU, my local community radio station’s “Morning Magazine.”  In one segment, host Bente Birkeland interviewed two newspaper reporters about a new report recommending that Colorado buy its own aerial firefighting fleet.  At one point, one of the reporters used the term, “CNN drop.”

I wondered what the heck a CNN drop is (he didn’t explain), but I could tell by the way he said it it wasn’t a flattering term.  And I was right:

Fire commanders say they are often pressured to order planes and helicopters into action on major fires even when the aircraft won’t do any good. Such pressure has resulted in needless and costly air operations, experienced fire managers said in interviews.

The reason for the interference, they say, is that aerial drops of water and retardant make good television. They’re a highly visible way for political leaders to show they’re doing everything possible to quell a wildfire, even if it entails overriding the judgment of incident commanders on the ground.

Firefighters have developed their own vernacular for such spectacles. They call them “CNN drops.”

“A lot of people do a lot of things for publicity and for politics that don’t need to be done,” said Jim Ziobro, fire aviation chief for the Oregon Department of Forestry.


Ah hah.  Aptly named.  And CNN bites every time.


Entry filed under: CNN / TimeWarner.

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