CNN’s abandonment of news to climb in bed with the tea party has turned into an epic disaster as the network has lost 52% of its viewers.
In a month where all three cable networks had ratings declines, no one did as badly as CNN. The network lost 52% of their total viewers (Run, Anderson, run. Imagine what a Cooper/Maddow primetime could do for MSNBC). Wolf Blitzer’s The Situation Room was down 46% in total viewers and 61% in the demo. How bad for have things gotten for CNN? In my recent travels, I passed through four airports, and not a single one had CNN on. The channel that I have been seeing more public televisions tuned to is The Weather Channel. Yes, even the weather is more interesting than CNN.
CNN’s problems started when the network bosses got the bright idea that they should try to copy Fox News, and move to the right. After climbing into bed with the Tea Party Express and hiring far right wingers Erick Erickson and Dana Loesch led to the current ratings disaster, what would you expect CNN to do?
If you said hire more right wingers and conservatives, congratulations, you are qualified for an upper management position at CNN. The network’s latest hire, Fox News castoff Margaret Hoover, let the cat out the bag, “Executives at CNN have been looking for fresh faces and new talent with conservative perspectives, and in the end, offered me an opportunity that was too good to pass up. Indeed, competition, that sturdy pillar of capitalism, is alive and well in the cable news industry.”
Despite the fact that their network is dying because they hired a bunch of conservatives, executives at CNN are looking to hire… more….conservatives.
The ratings suggest that viewers don’t want a Fox News clone CNN. They want their news network back. CNN used to be the best cable news network for two reasons. They focused on news, and they had more reporters and bureaus around the world than anyone else. CNN has been cutting their staffing for years, and their focus is now on trying to be a Fox News mini-me.
What they don’t seem to understand is that Fox News has branded itself so thoroughly with the conservative movement that their viewers are never going to leave Fox for CNN, and by moving to the right, they have alienated the left and middle who also will no longer watch CNN.
The truth is that the conservative cable news audience is tiny. Fox News only averaged 1.6 million primetime viewers in May, and those people will die in their nursing homes with their televisions tuned to Fox. However, CNN could be very successful by moving to the center/left. The network has more resources and is in more homes than MSNBC, and the vast majority of Americans don’t belong to the polarized extremes of the left and right.
CNN’s downfall should serve as a warning to the entire mainstream media that catering to the far right will only result in failure. There is only room for one Fox News. The audience isn’t big enough to support two networks working the same side of the street.
Maybe one day someone in cable news will wise up and not cave to the few screaming banshees on the right, and realize that there is a large and hungry audience in the middle, and those people would like to see some news.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor, who is White House Press Pool, and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association