Last Friday night, the Valparaiso Family YMCA in Indiana abruptly stopped airing CNN on its televisions in the facility’s wellness and exercise area. According the the Chicago Tribune, the decision was made by the Y’s CEO, Robert Wanek, after dozens of complaints were lodged from guests regarding CNN’s obvious “political bias” and constant reporting of “fake news.”
“It’s the No. 1 problem we have in the wellness area,” Koeppen told me. “Trying to please everyone, which I’m sure you can appreciate.”
On Monday morning, she said YMCA officials had a meeting about the complaints. It culminated with a press release statement later that day from Robert Wanek, CEO of the Valpo Y.
“In order to eliminate perceived political bias associated with national news outlets, the Valparaiso Family YMCA will only be showing local news channels in the future,” he said.
I asked Wanek to better explain exactly what happened last Friday night to prompt this change in TV viewing which, as far as I know, has been the same for many years.
“I cannot pinpoint the change origins, only to add that we get dozens of requests to change channels every day from numerous interest groups,” he replied.
The move from the Indiana Y came just one day after Trump’s now infamous on-air spat with CNN’s Jim Acosta over an “intelligence” dossier that CNN reported on but later was revealed to be completely “fake news.”
Of course, not everyone was happy with the decision to change the channel on CNN which had been playing in the Valparaiso Family YMCA for 15 consecutive years.
So, I asked, no more national news networks such as CNN, C-Span, MSNBC or FOX News will be aired inside the Y for members?
No, he replied. “Only Chicago channels. Actually, we never had FOX news, just Fox 32.”
Not all Y members, including me, are in favor of this rather abrupt decision.
“The policy that the YMCA has just put out is a victory for those who complained,” said Greg Quartucci of Valparaiso, who’s been a Y member for more than 15 years. “CNN has been on a TV at the Y for those 15 years, and I am disappointed that the Y removed CNN because of complaints.”
Quartucci said Y staff members told him that CNN was removed due to complaints about “fake news” from other members.
“I suggested (Wanek) play all news channels, but he would not relent,” Quartucci said.
Perhaps it’s time for CNN’s President Jeff Zucker to revisit his assessment that CNN’s “credibility is higher than ever.”