Monday, April 5, 2010

Liberal Blind Spot Kills CNN

Almost two weeks ago, ratings came out for the cable networks. MSNBC came in 26th in prime time, behind such luminaries as the Cartoon Network and the Food Channel. It just edged out BET. CNN didn’t make it into the top 30. When looking at the entire day, CNN came in 29th, losing to the vaunted Cartoon and Food Networks. MSNBC didn’t make the list. So news stinks right? Well, not really. FOX News was 2nd and 4th on the two lists. FOX had about three times the number of viewer as either MSNBC or CNN.

It took about a week for these numbers to start making it into the news cycle. And now, suddenly, we’re treated to all kinds of stories asking what is wrong with CNN and offering advice on how to fix CNN.

So what is wrong with CNN? Well, according to the liberal journalists being interviewed, CNN made a mistake when it decided to change its editorial policy and become a station without bias. Stop laughing, I’m serious. . . they did do that. CNN made a decision some time ago that they would try to chart the middle ground between FOX and MSNBC. While some might suggest that the middle ground between those two would be lunatics in bikinis spewing gibberish, CNN saw it differently. CNN decided that the middle ground was news, presented in all its unbiased glory.

Now, before we go further, let me say that I applaud CNN for that. I am a big proponent of someone finally presenting news again rather than opinion masquerading as news. And there have been times in the past three or four months where I almost felt that CNN had pulled off a fairly balanced presentation. But note my qualifier, “almost.” And that’s the problem. Liberals live in such a bubble that they don’t even know when they are spewing liberalism. It’s a blind spot. And CNN, staffed by former Clinton operatives, has a huge one.

The liberals who are opining about saving CNN don’t get this either. They say that obviously CNN’s foray into unbiased news was a failure because audiences no longer want “fair” journalism. Instead, we’re assured, they want “opinion journalism.” Thus, they advise CNN to pick a side (the liberal side) and start spewing. As usual, the lefties are wrong.

The real problem with CNN’s plan was that it never achieved a true middle of the road, and, consequently, no one believed their sudden conversion. They didn’t change their anchors, they haven’t stopped attacking Republicans more heavily and less fairly than Democrats, and they haven’t stopped bringing on the same hard-left jerkoffs they’ve been using for their “analysis” for years. Moreover, their assumptions remain distinctly liberal: government is the provider of solutions, spending is good, taxing is good, and liberal shibboleths remain unquestioned.

Why should anyone believe that the same people who venomously savaged the right for decades have suddenly become fair when nothing has changed at their station except the concept?

If you want to know why CNN’s ratings went down, just think about it. They spent 20+ years driving away any viewer who wasn’t several steps left of center. When FOX appeared, despite it ridiculousness, all of these people ran for the doors and never looked back. That’s about 60% of the American public, which coincidentally is exactly how the ratings break down if you compare FOX's ratings to the combined ratings of CNN and MSNBC.

Of the 40% of the market left for CNN after FOX arrived, about 40% of those were lunatic fringe, who just want their “news” to validate their opinions. So when CNN decided to go “fair,” it lost those people to MSNBC, which has no qualms about warping its “news” to fit its far-left agenda. That left only 24% of the market at CNN. (By the way, the real losers are the three networks ABC, CBS and NBC, who are bleeding viewers.)

What CNN was hoping was that people would come back to it from FOX once they realized that CNN was no longer biased. CNN hoped it would be the 60% and FOX and MSNBC the twenty percenters. But why should people go back? They were burned for 20 years by CNN before FOX came along. And since CNN does nothing more these days than read AP wire stories, which is all FOX does (though FOX has hookerish "attorneys" add their opinions to each story), why should a rational conservative switch from the right-leaning hookers on FOX to the depressed leftists in “centrist” drag on CNN? Yeah, I said “drag” Anderson Cooper. . . who studied at the University of Hanoi (and, yes, that’s true, I didn’t make that up).

If CNN wants to recapture some of the FOX audience, it’s going to have to dump its leftist journalists and find people who are not associated with the Democratic party to run the place. Stop hiring journalists who are married to prominent Democrats and who appear at Democratic fund raisers. It also needs to start providing more that just AP stories. For example, a couple of exposés on Obama and Pelosi would go a long way to winning people back. Until it does that, nobody’s coming back.

But CNN’s liberal blind spot keeps it from seeing this, because, from a liberal’s perspective, CNN's liberal-lite is already "fair." So I guess, all that's left to say is. . .



Update: We have received an interesting video that discusses the ratings war, and it anyone is interested, you can check it out here: Video.


StanH said...

CNN is a member of the Atlanta business community, and would be a big hit if they go belly-up, so I have mixed emotions about their fate. When Ted Turner launched his satellite into space and started TBS everyone called him crazy. He went on and formed CNN and for some time they were the only 24/7 news channel. Now with competition they are falling hard by the wayside, and their dogmatic refusal to change their business model I fear the worst…oh well. By the way, too add insult to injury, The Cartoon Network, is part of Turner’s/Time’s empire.

Writer X said...

Whenever I watch CNN (which is rare these days), I watch it mostly for comic relief. I think Stan's onto something: Why not call it The Cartoon Network and hope for better ratings? Still, CNN looks almost award-worthy compared to MSNBC so I suppose that's something.

The spin, though, on the low CNN ratings is hysterical. It's like listening to an alcoholic try to explain that he doesn't have a drinking problem. Get real.

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, I would like to see them succeed at presenting unbiased news. But I think they really need to approach that honestly. You just can't achieve a fair and balanced approach if your entire staff are liberal Democrats.

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, The spin is amazing. What's even more amazing is that they seem to be willing to listen to the spin and leave their network unreformed rather than they are to actually take an honest look at what they are doing.

Pittsburgh Enigma said...

I've enjoyed CNN's international channel when I was in Europe, but I haven't watched the domestic channel in years. It's sad that they can't see their own blind spot, but isn't that typical of any liberal organization?

I also noticed an NYT article last week about how the network channels are hemorrhaging viewers, but then they downplayed that by saying that the network channels still have about 24 million viewers collectively. I wonder how fast that number will continue to shrink.

AndrewPrice said...

Pitts, I think that's the problem of any group that has people of only one ideological bent. Though I do think that liberals are much more prone to group think for a variety of reasons.

I saw the same article and I thought that was an interesting conclusion that "well, they still have 24 million viewers, so it's not bad." Except that they use to have twice that number and the country was half as small at the time. That works out roughly to a 75% drop in market share over 20 years. That's not a victory by any stretch. Not to mention that the bleeding continues -- they lost around 3 million viewers in the past three years.

I'd be concerned.

patti said...

folks are begging for real news. get back to journalistic roots and report and viewership will skyrocket. that's the open secret that "news" joints like cnn refuse to believe.

well, that and they didn't get the release memo from barry giving them permission to sway from his agenda...

AndrewPrice said...

Patti, I agree. Everywhere I go I see people complaining that they can't get "news" anymore. CNN claims to want to tap into that, but they just aren't doing anything more than reading AP stories that everyone else has already seen on the front page of Yahoo. Simply having it read to me doesn't offer me anything worth watching.

Joel Farnham said...

CNN is trying something new. Erik Erikson from RedState is now a sometime contributor to CNN. I don't expect much to come from it.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I saw him during their coverage of Obama's health care speech. I was, frankly, stunned that they let him on the show. That was my first hint that they had indeed changed. Like I said, I applaud them for that. Unfortunately, they just haven't gone all the way yet to becoming truly fair. If they do, I think there is a huge market awaiting them. But they need to get beyond their current thinking to get there.

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: I watched the first Iraq War on CNN and the second on Fox News. Amazing. In the second one, I could actually tell who the bad guys were. Later, I was amazed to find out just how much CNN had given up in its capacity to tell the real story of the first Gulf War by making deals with Saddam Hussein for Baghdad access. "SCUD Stud" CNN reporter Arthur Kent's inside deals with Saddam were ultimately uncovered, and he was chased back to his native Canada.

Meanwhile, Fox figured out the formula for getting men to watch news other than sports. Hire beautiful female reporters. But they added one thing. Unlike the commercial network bubble-headed bleached blondes, these women are smart and have a sense of humor. Hell, I'll even watch the weather report for Poughkeepsie just to see Janice Dean, the Weather Machine. Until last month, CNN still had SCUD Slut Christiane Amanpour as its premier female face.

Joel Farnham said...

I have almost given up on Fox still. In this last go around, most of the announcers didn't seem at all concerned that the government has strong-armed 1/6 of the economy. Indeed some of the announcers were upset that some contributors were upset about this confiscation.(A blond bimbette during the morning show with an incredulous voice said, "Don't you think it is right that 32 million people are now covered?")

I am apalled that Fox still has Shepard Smith on.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I've given up on Fox. It's nothing but opinion masquerading as news, and the opinion is largely big government/big business with a slight conservative twist.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I had respect for CNN at one time, but they really took a hard left turn after a while. I have no respect for Fox. I see a lot of opinion on Fox, but very little thought.

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: Fox has slipped badly recently. But on their news segments, you're still more likely to hear some actual news than on the others. Unfortunately, the "entertainment" component has slipped into nearly everything Fox does (as it has done on all the others for decades). For local news, I watch the first five minutes of the local network affiliates, then move on when the news becomes the news-editorials. And for all its editorializing, you are still more likely to hear genuine opposing opinions on Fox than on any of the other majors. Fox is better than most of the others, but that's not saying much.

Let's remember, we were talking about news, not news stations alone. You have to get your "big events/breaking news" somewhere, and having an international source is handy for those. I don't see that CNN or any of the others do a better job of that than Fox, and are far more likely to ignore negative news about Obama and the Democrat Congress. How many of the others showed Obama being snubbed by an entire line of Russian diplomats at the time it happened? That's news. They should all have shown it, and then left it up to their commentators and viewers to decide what, if anything, it signified. For anything other than local breaking hard news, you have to look somewhere, and for that, I'll take Fox News (with a grain of salt) until somebody comes up with something better.

Tennessee Jed said...

I have not watched CNN in so long I don't even know the last time I even watched it. One of the specific things that took me over the top. There is a young reporter with whom I happen to share a birthday. I think she had been with MSNBC and went to CNN and I'm pretty sure her namew is Suzanne Malveux or something similar. During the 2004 election, there was something negative that came out for Democrats fairly close to election time. She was caught on camera saying she hoped it only lasted a single news cycle. I vowed to never ever tune in again.

Whew, with that off my chest, I think you are absolutely correct. My biggest grip is not liberals who admit they are liberals, but liberals who swear they are being objective. Dan Rather, Walt Kronkite, Chalrlie Gibson. To hell with them all.

I would welcome a news organization that gave hard news if there was a true objective team producung, directing, and reporting. I might even watch a network that had a Brett Baier and a Dianne Sawyer as co-anchors to keep the other one honest.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, The problem with them all is that they've adopted the model of simply taking AP wire service reports and dressing them up with anchor-spouted opinion as "news" (none of them do news gathering anymore).

Then, to make the news more "exciting", they bring in really bad experts, chosen for their combativeness and television personality rather than their knowledge, and they let them fight it out for a few moments.

And then they fill most of the rest of their lineups with pure opinion -- Hannity, Olberman, O'Reilley, etc.

That doesn't leave you much in the way of real news, nor does it give you anything you couldn't have gotten by just scanning Yahoo.

I think that the first one to change that model will be a huge success.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I couldn't agree more. I think there is a huge market out there for people who just want the facts. They want reporters to investigate, to uncover, and to report. They don't want reporters just reading to them and spinning what they read.

And I agree about liberals who think they are unbiased. I come from the position that facts should be presented as facts and opinion should be clearly marked. But too many, particularly on the left, think that there is nothing wrong with advocating while pretending to be impartial.

BevfromNYC said...

But see, this the big fallacy about the news - it has NEVER been unbiased. Hey, Ben Franklin had a newspaper. Do you think he was unbiased? The only thing that has changed is how the news is delivered and our access to the primary sources like never before.

Now we have access to so many different versions of the same event including live news feeds, that we get to make up our own minds what "the truth" is.

BTW - This is very disturbing to the news media. They no longer control the message.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I think that for a time between the 1940s to the 1960s, you had reporters who did their best to cover stories and then editorialists who presented opinion. The two were, for the most part, well separated at the reputable organizations. But over the past 30-40 years, they've blurred the line to the point that now even the AP, which is supposed to be just a gatherer of facts, is sending out its articles as full blown opinion.

It's never possible to eliminate all bias. But when people aren't sure what side you're on, then you're doing about as well as humanly possible at being unbiased. The problem with people like CNN is that they pretend that they are unbiased, but they really aren't -- they keep on spinning.

CrisD said...

I agree with Bev--the news has always been biased (even in the good old days! haha)

I remember when CNN was the only cable "all news" outlet and I had to listen to a bunch of garbage. As I got older it really was overwelming~~then FOX came along and I would laugh out loud enjoying at the openness of the conservative opinion. The problem is, as you pointed out in this post, it has become rather formulaic (especially the stupid/weak left wing arguers like Juan Williams and Colmes and Bob Beckel.) The blonde "lawyer/news gals" are over the top. When they have minute long debates on an issue, it makes me switch to the Food channel. (Although I am now considering the cartoon network.)

AndrewPrice said...

CrisD, The Food Channel is good, but I think you won't be disappointed in the Cartoon Network. Their news has a very different perspective. ;-)

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