Why Did CNN Die?
by Tom Donelson on August 1, 2012 at 12:05 PM
The head of CNN, Jim Walton, said goodbye as CNN continued its decline in the ratings war. CNN was once the leading light of cable news, but FOX have long passed CNN by and now MSNBC is running ahead of CNN. CNN's present problems are the result of many factors swirling around at once. It runs behind MSNBC for the simple reason that CNN has attempted to play the neutral news observer while hiding its own leftist bias, whereas MSNBC decided a decade ago to no longer attempt to be unbiased. MSNBC is the leftist's playgroundwith all the hatred and venom directed at the right. There is no rumor or bigotry too small for MSNBC to publicized against their opponent and the evening line up is nothing but one leftist host after another detailing the news from one side. There is no attempt to be a news gathering organization but to represent one point of view, and that is the latest talking point of the left. MSNBC has stolen the leftist audience and FOX's surge in ratings left CNN with few audience left to cultivate.
Fox is the news station that leaves the left apoplectic, but the irony is Fox News has become the least biased news programing. Roger Ailes has managed to snag some of the better reporters from other networks. Former CNN reporter Ed Henry and John Roberts joined Fox to strengthen their new coverage plus Bret Baier has become a leading anchor in the tradition of Walter Cronkite and others.
Charles Krauthammer once observed that FOX has managed to grab a niche audience, half of America. The genius of Ailes was to produce a news network that appealed to conservatives, and considering that 40 percent of Americans consider themselves conservatives, this represents a significant audience that has long given up on the mainstream media telling them the full truth. Ailes added entertaining hosts like Bill O’ Reilly, while building a news organization that rivaled CNN. CNN lost the left side of the audience and did little to attract the right side of the audience, and the middle either kept their loyalty to traditional news program or drifted to FOX. There was a time that when a major new story broke out, cable audience would return to CNN for coverage, but now FOX is the station that people turn to during crisis. This is due to Ailes building up the news department.
As for CNN, they are presently caught between a rock and a hard place. There are no hosts that grab public imagination and the Piers Morgan experiment has proven to be a failure so far. The colorful Brit had never attracted much of audience and let's face it, if you want an entertaining leftist, you can simply watch Rachel Maddow. So where do they go for audience, and how do they build up their news programing and ratings? As Fox discovered, having centrist like Bill O’Reilly or conservatives like Sean Hannity hosting their program attracts a bigger audience. Considering there are nearly three plus decades of showing the liberal ideology of most reporters, approximately half of America viewed much of the news establishment is biased against them.
Which leads to what does CNN do? Good question since FOX's audience is still smaller than the combination of the ABCNBCCBSCNNMSNBC mainstream machines, there is still audience to garner by rejecting the liberal bias inherited in most news program. So what would happen if CNN actually turned their evening program over to a noted conservative to compete with the FOX evening line up? CNN does have a news organization good at investigating and a solid foreign coverage, so they have good news organization to build around. Interestingly enough, NBC's best news reporters are located on CNBC, their business network and CNBC shows that good journalism can still be found within the mainstream of news media.
So can CNN combine the solid news reporting with a more broad based evening program that covers all angles? There are those who will argue that FOX is biased, and there is no doubt that many of their programs are hosted by conservatives, but one should understand that if you are viewing Bill O’ Reilly or Sean Hannity, you are watching a program with an ideological edge just as you should understand that Ed Schultz will give you his opinion from the hard left. The real question is how do news programs report the news, and FOX has two hours of simply news program detailing the day’s events. Bret Baier is not hired to be an opinion maker but a news reporter, a big difference. CNN has Wolf Blitzer, who produces a similar role; and remember MSNBC has no counter to either program.
There is no doubt that there is a liberal bias. The real question is how this bias affects new coverage and for many, the answer is yes that this bias does affect new coverage. CNN may find that maybe being more balanced in their news department might be the way back to the old days when CNN was the voice of cable. It is certain though that going the opposite way is a complete failure.