Much Ado About the Inevitable: CNN Ratings Plummet

CNN has been the premier 24 hour cable news service for decades. The network has had trouble retaining  viewers in the past and is doing so again.

No surprise here, given the lack of editorial leadership combined with a passive-aggressive approach to political reporting that fails to give viewers the meat based protein that they crave.

CNN suffered a 50 percent drop in hosted program viewers. In comparison, Fox News is the propaganda arm of the right wing,  never likes to correct its false reporting and is enjoying record viewership. Even MSNBC is doing better than CNN.

Inquisitr says that CNN averages 446,000 prime time programming viewers. Only 319,000 viewers pay attention during the daytime.  MSNBC gets a lot more than that with 689,000 prime time viewers and FOX News sucks 1.79 million prime time viewers into its dripping maw of hatred and deceit.

But how many Americans own televisions and pay for cable service? A lot more than two or three million do.

The New York Times, reports that even prime time network series have suffered an unprecedented loss of the 18- to 49-year-old viewers who are their target audience. 

But CNN's viewership is the  lowest in 21 years.

The network went stark raving mad a few years ago with a bias toward wild and crazy right wing radio talk show hosts. The network ran through Lou Dobbs, the virulent anti Mexican illegal immigration polemicist who is himself from Delicias Mexico.

There was Michael Savage, a host so unstable that he only lasted a few months. Perhaps it was the sausage frying incident that woke CNN executives up to the fact that they don't call it "dope" for nothing.

Finally, there was Glenn Beck, a poorly educated histrionic who could not survive television even after being booted over to FOX news.

CNN's post Larry King "new breed" was supposed to appeal to some as yet unidentified segment of the population.  Piers Morgan was once the editor of Rupert Murdoch's News of the World tabloid and was a  talent show judge who avoided being a British twit. He has failed to maintain audience levels.

An expanded "Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer and his seriously unattractive curmudgeon sidekick fails to wow the audience. Even Anderson Cooper, who should appeal to the younger crowd, failed to maintain his own ratings. After stumbling around in hurricanes and looking all GQ amid the carnage in Haiti, the best that Cooper can do is a brief ripoff of Jon Stewart's shtick in a segment called the "Ridiculist". 

The problem for CNN is that  the network's brilliance for reporting important news is being wasted in  a weak, middle of the road approach to the polarized, fractious world of domestic politics and fringe celebrities.

MSNBC and FOX news are far more exciting, annoying and entertaining when the political news cycle is slow. 

But CNN fails to see an opportunity even when opportunity is ready to smack someone in the face: fill the news void by covering  the stories that you have not been covering!

Dylan Byers of Politico  has a good statement:  “It’s frustrating to hear our leadership talk about the exemplary journalism we do, then turn on the TV during the day and see CNN doing another story about ‘birthers’ or ‘tips for dining out alone,’”

Politico identifies the following problems at CNN: stale programming, a lack of editorial leadership, an "identity crisis", and claiming a non partisan stance.

The truth is that CNN is simply passive-aggressive  in favor of the corporate-political right and has gotten to be boring in the process.

Journalistic integrity does not have to be boring.The political self propagation that FOX and MSNBC have indulged in is not the answer either. MSNBC does it right with Reverend Al, Rachel Maddow, and the Irish firebrands of American politics. Chris Matthews is at least loud.

CNN has brought in Don Lemon and some other bright, young stars, but they are confined to the weekends. Good luck drawing age 18-49 viewers then.

America and the world are full of stories that need to be told. Constant repetition of nothing; bits on how to count your cholesterol  and dog rescue stores do not inform us about our  natural, physical, social and event filled national landscape.

What about historic fires in Colorado or the nation's largest bankruptcy filing by a single city. Viewers are hungry for the truth and the whole truth about bankrupt cities, the trend toward extremist legislation, historical forest fires and the effects of the economy on more people than blond haired white people from America's wormy heartland. 

What about "strange noises heard around the world"  or the radioactive junk from Japan that is headed our way?  I love a good spooky tale about my state of the union turning Japanese with Fukushima radiation!

CNN should give people the news that they need to hear. Why this stopped happening  is beyond comprehension because CNN is the most qualified and prepared cable news network in America.

Perhaps the ratings plunge will force CNN executives out of their managerial stupor and into positive and healthy action.

What kind of stories would make you set up the DVR for CNN?

Views: 267

Comment by Xenonlit on June 29, 2012 at 10:26am

Too true, Kenneth. I wish I could "like" comments. I know that folks have their favorites but you nailed one of the big problems there. They call in the useless liars and challenge them, but get nowhere.  But I really do like the weekend kids. They are much like the old CNN, but are stuck on the bench!

Comment by Myriad on July 1, 2012 at 4:04am

I don't get MSNBC, which sounds interesting, and it sounds like Maddow does a good job.  CNN is staffed with robots - John King was one and he's gone, at least, but Blitzer is a (to mix metaphors) a sleepwalker.  You're right that there are so many things they could cover - interviews and investigations of citizens' foreclosure and medical-insurance woes......but, oh dear, that might rile up people...  It seems to be a matter of not making waves.  Fox evidently doesnt care.  That channel is on my cable, but I don't watch it.

Actually, I don't watch's summer, leaves are on the trees, and I got no reception.  Trees were sacrificed last summer, but new growth has replaced them...  I used to have CNN on as background, but it was the same stuff over and over, even if not cholesterol stories, even if current stuff, but every 'host' rehashed the same thing,..

Comment by Xenonlit on July 1, 2012 at 11:16am

Great comment, Gina. I have it all on when I am working on the computer. 99 percent of the time, I tune it out, but rarely, I catch the odd bit of news. 

I have to give it to CNN for "Heroes". That is a stunning feature where the people who are being honored are incredible, just incredible. Otherwise, it's background noise.

Comment by Xenonlit on July 1, 2012 at 11:22am

Gahhh...comma infestation!

Comment by Myriad on July 1, 2012 at 2:35pm

Yeah, the Heroes get me every time (sniffle).

Comment by Christopher S. Dunn on July 2, 2012 at 5:12am

Part of the problem is that those in the journalistic fields are just as scared as the rest of us in hanging onto their jobs. Well not me, 'cause I got adzed years ago (an adz is heavy stone wedge tied to a stick -- basically a dull stone ax) so I and I we got no fear, mon.

News is so cutthroat and so dependant on ratings that the entire concept of "Journalistic Integrity" has become a casualty of the ratings war.  Now they're "bundling" news stories so that you get exactly the same story on CNN as you do ABC, NBC or CBS -- inlcuding the same reporters, 'cause it's cheaper.  In print, including online, they're "outsourcing" local news in the US to writer sweatshops in the Philippines to save money.

What I see is a near total breakdown of the mechanisms that support democratic strength all in the name of the Almighty Dollar.  The Revolution May Not Be Televised, but I assure you, it's coming.  MY hope is that the revolution is a revolution of thought, of perception.  One that changes the way people in general see the world, those who are in power and what is being done to us, the world and exactly by whom.  A revolution that determines how to use all this technology for the general betterment of mankind and one that sweeps the world forward instead of back.

We already know what the concentration of wealth and power looks like.  It's got 6,000 years of recorded history behind it.  The experiment in democracy should continue and we should all do our best to embrace it.  This includes a new way of gathering together honest, factual reporting of information who's intent is not rating, but the desire to know truth.  Get out yer camera phones and join the revolution!

Oh yeah, and we'll still need plenty of gifted writers. We don't need no stinking "Morans" carrying signs that are mispelled.

Comment by Xenonlit on July 2, 2012 at 8:09am

Christopher: Do you know where I go when news is breaking? Twitter! That network is the portal to everything that is NOT canned news.

The major news organizations, citizens, experts...everyone breaks out with the citizen journalism. There are real time, ready links to video, on scene observations, local newspapers, location history, rumors, rumor control and fact checking sources like nobody's business. 

My main source of news is the British press. I get more in depth news about the US from BBC and the Guardian when the US papers aren't even talking about the item!  The NY Times does good thorough articles. Sometimes the LA times and very local journalism outlets will have the best insights. 

I go into a lot of  journals and government and academic databases. It is amazing how few "major" news sources will announce something and blather on with op/ed, but will not publish a link to a published science article, a law or a government policy. I try to find that information and publish the links or I resist writing about the topic.

Comment by Christopher S. Dunn on July 2, 2012 at 8:37am

I love Twitter for that.  I also get a lot of my best American and European news coverage from Al Jazeera English.  I'm in agreement, there is just too little use of the linking options to point to more -- and relevant -- information and they hardly ever quote anyone who is actually an considered expert in their field when it comes to providing some sort of "weight" to the slant of their efforts.

Comment by Xenonlit on July 2, 2012 at 10:25am

Too true! I use al Jazeera English from time to time. It's quite a legitimate news agency these days. India times is good for tech and asia stories.

Comment by L in the Southeast on July 2, 2012 at 12:02pm

CNN lost my respect with the first hologram.  If I wanted to watch Star Trek, I wouldn't be tuned into CNN!  I don't think they've been able to stand up against so much competition, especially on the internet.


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