Fox News Channel continues rapid growth …

posted at 2:20 pm on March 30, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Just when the first American cable-news network may have presumed that they couldn’t fall any more, the New York Times reports today that CNN has had its decline extended even farther in the first quarter.  Their main prime-time hosts have lost half of their audiences, with Fox News being the biggest beneficiary.  Their main channel has even declined at times to where their headline service draws more viewers (via JWF):

CNN continued what has become a precipitous decline in ratings for its prime-time programs in the first quarter of 2010, with its main hosts losing almost half their viewers in a year.

The trend in news ratings for the first three months of this year is all up for one network, the Fox News Channel, which enjoyed its best quarter ever in ratings, and down for both MSNBC and CNN. …

About the only break from the bad news for CNN was that March was not as bad as February, when the network had its worst single month in its recent history, finishing behind not only Fox News and MSNBC, but also its sister network HLN — and even CNBC, which had Olympics programming that month.

CNN executives have steadfastly said that they will not change their approach to prime-time programs, which are led by hosts not aligned with any partisan point of view.

They can certainly keep telling themselves that their hosts don’t align with a “partisan point of view,” but the viewers obviously think otherwise.  Anderson Cooper helped popularize the “teabagger” slur used against Tea Party activists, which certainly would have alienated that demographic.  Larry King isn’t exactly known for his welcoming attitude towards conservatives, and neither for that matter is Campbell Brown or Rick Sanchez.  When conservative points of view are expressed by guests, the CNN hosts display a lot more skepticism for them than with the expressions of liberal points of view. (Full disclosure: I’ve been on with both Campbell and Rick and they’ve treated me fairly.) It’s not hostility, like one sees on MS-NBC, but if CNN thinks that equates to not having a partisan point of view, then small wonder they haven’t been able to stanch the bleeding.

That’s not to say that CNN is the worst in class, either.  CNN picked up Erick Erickson of Red State as an analyst, and they do better at balancing points of view in prime time than MS-NBC, which has become a lunatic asylum after about 11 am ET.  But Fox has done a better job over a longer, consistent period of incorporating serious left-of-center analysts like Juan Williams, Mara Liasson, Kirsten Powers, and more in both its talking-heads shows and its news analysis than any of the other cablers. Being better than MS-NBC is, in any case, damning with extremely faint praise.

What can CNN do to right the ship?  They need to take a much more clear-eyed view of the way they come across to their viewers.  CNN has more assets in the field for news gathering than its competition, but loses credibility when it mixes editorializing with reporting.  With MS-NBC so far on the Left that it can barely be seen and Fox News Channel leaning right, they might do better by actually playing it down the middle and sticking to nonpartisan analysis.  They’ll need to shake up their lineup to do that, and maybe get away from the talking-head concept altogether and instead break the prime-time lineup into focus areas such as foreign affairs, politics, domestic policy, and so on.  They need to make themselves useful and unique — at which they have only succeeded with their headline news.


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With MS-NBC so far on the Left that it can barely be seen and Fox News Channel leaning right, they might do better by actually playing it down the middle and sticking to nonpartisan analysis. They’ll need to shake up their lineup to do that, and maybe get away from the talking-head concept altogether and instead break the prime-time lineup into focus areas such as foreign affairs, politics, domestic policy, and so on. They need to make themselves useful and unique — at which they have only succeeded with their headline news.

Probably good advice, but I get the very strong feeling they’re more likely to adopt MSNBC as a model and go sharply left, on the basic premise that they should be able to do it better than MSNBC.

tom on March 30, 2010 at 3:26 PM

While this comment intrigues me; I’m also thoroughly confused.

lorien1973 on March 30, 2010 at 2:30 PM

ROFLMAO!!! Is that proper for Amish to be intrigued by? LOL

capejasmine on March 30, 2010 at 3:29 PM

“Personally, I don’t watch Fox or any other news on TV. I can get all the news I want on the internet in five minutes, versus wasting 23 minutes of “news” and 7 minutes of commercials.”

I too have stopped watching cable news. I t seems to me that reversing the above numbers (23/7) would be closer to reality!

GFW on March 30, 2010 at 3:29 PM

Larry King’s complete bias and irrelevance was proven decisively to me when he was on vacation – none other than Joy Behar was chosen as a guest replacement. Says it all, folks.

PJ Emeritus on March 30, 2010 at 3:35 PM

I can’t watch CNN,MSNBC, NBC, ABC, or CBS because they make me want to shoot my TV. Then I would have to buy another one. I can watch Kerin Jentry with the mute on.

But that slug Rachael Maddow (whatever) is such a numb scull that I can’t believe the executives have her on. She insults my intellegence, and woke me up to how idiotic her viewer base must be. With her, what’s bad is good and what’s good is bad: a perfect reverse barometer. Rick Sanchez and Cris Mathews also drive me nuts with their pius condisention. At least the lefties on Fox have to answer to common sense. On the others, it is a nut fest.

saiga on March 30, 2010 at 3:35 PM

Cooper should give tea bagging demonstrations using Sanchez.

darwin on March 30, 2010 at 2:50 PM

Wouldn’t a dirty sanchez be more fitting?

Aviator on March 30, 2010 at 3:35 PM

Well CNN is boring and MS-NBFREAK is nut.

Falz on March 30, 2010 at 3:37 PM

Cooper should give tea bagging demonstrations using Sanchez.

darwin on March 30, 2010 at 2:50 PM

It turns out Cooper is a real tea bagger. Funny he should use his favorite activity as a slur. That’s just one example of his over the top hipocracy.

saiga on March 30, 2010 at 3:40 PM

CNN started moving left in the mid-1980s, after Ted Turner bought MGM and started mixing with the Hollywood crowd, as well as bringing over more hires from the broadcast networks. Remember, Ted was the one to make the sweetheart deal with Fidel Castro back in ’86 for access to Cuba in return for self-censoring what they broadcast out of there, a company policy that would later result in the Eason Jordan debacle in CNN’s Iraq coverage while Saddam was in power. Jesse Helms may have wanted Turner to buy CBS and fire Dan Rather in 1985, but the network has been going in the wrong direction ever since then.

With MS-NBC so far on the Left that it can barely be seen and Fox News Channel leaning right, they might do better by actually playing it down the middle and sticking to nonpartisan analysis.

Problem A above creates Problem B — Since the same types of people who have run CBS, NBC and ABC for all these years have now been running CNN for about a quarter century, anyone going in there to clean it up — if only to just make it a middle-of-the-road network — will have to battle an entrenched corporate culture that would try to undermine that effort every step of the way. Even if Time-Warner opened its vault and hired Roger Ailes away from Fox, Ailes wouldn’t get anywhere unless the higher-ups at Time-Warner were willing to back their new top exec up and allow him to make all the wrenching changes at CNN, including the ouster of of ton of on-camera and off-camera personnel, that the channel would need to change its ideological mindset around.

It’s hard to change a mindset that doesn’t want to be changed, and the CNN braintrust doing things like hiring Joy Behar for HLN last year, to be the apparent host-in-waiting when Larry King finally bites the dust, shows that while the current crowd can read the ratings, they still thing that maybe if we try this liberal host or that liberal newsreader instead of this other one, that will solve all our problems.

jon1979 on March 30, 2010 at 3:40 PM

It would b e even far worse, if CNN didn’t have the airports and many business running them all the time

michaelo on March 30, 2010 at 2:26 PM

I hear L.A. Fitness Centers have gotten rid of Fox News and only show CNN and MSNBC now. Can you imagine having to work out to Wolf Blitzer and Larry King? Talk about burn

disa on March 30, 2010 at 3:44 PM

CNN executives have steadfastly said that they will not change their approach to prime-time programs, which are led by hosts not aligned with any partisan point of view.

Hahahahahahha that’s funny right there now. hahahahaha

conservnut on March 30, 2010 at 3:44 PM

I hear L.A. Fitness Centers have gotten rid of Fox News and only show CNN and MSNBC now. Can you imagine having to work out to Wolf Blitzer and Larry King? Talk about burn…

disa on March 30, 2010 at 3:44 PM

I had to come uncorked on the YMCA here while back for that. They put Fox back up.

conservnut on March 30, 2010 at 3:45 PM

Ain`t nothing good at all about CNN, Ed.

Despite your disclosure.

And CNN will not heed any advice on how to improve when it even denies it needs improvement.

Denial is a big issue with dems and libs these days. A skewed reality, if you will.

Sherman1864 on March 30, 2010 at 3:46 PM

Probably good advice, but I get the very strong feeling they’re more likely to adopt MSNBC as a model and go sharply left, on the basic premise that they should be able to do it better than MSNBC.

tom on March 30, 2010 at 3:26 PM

agree

cmsinaz on March 30, 2010 at 3:49 PM

Here’s the funny part. CNN won’t get it. I see liberals everyday make the same mistakes over and over because they can’t change their ways. They’ll run themselves right into the ground. Sure they are picking up these evil-twin-looking info babes, but the same bad attitude is running the ship over there.

johnnyU on March 30, 2010 at 3:54 PM

I think the biggest problem the leftie networks have is they have been caught making up their own facts too many times. With easy access to all that information out there, it is harder for them to dupe informed viewers.

Like health care. They talk about all the poor helpless victims getting health care for the first time, and say nothing about the crushing effects of an unsustainable debt load. When the cookie jar runs out, and it will at this pace, all those people that can’t cash their free checks will come unglued just like in Greece.

Pie in the sky is great, but when the underpinings snap, the pie comes tumbling down. That’s when the welfare addicts come after your stuff, and that is one reason gun sales are so high. Plenty of people recognize that we can’t keep doling out what we don’t have without grave consequences.

Obama, on the other hand wishes against hope that the economy will somehow swell and outgrow the debt while he continues to punish his best players on the economic field.

Madness.

saiga on March 30, 2010 at 3:59 PM

Obviously, a fairness doctrine for cable news is needed so that the Joy Behars and Ed Schultzes of the world actually get ratings…you can see.

StevefromMKE on March 30, 2010 at 4:07 PM

This trend will come to a stop if Bill O,Reilly keeps up this attack on conservatives and telling the tea party people to tone it down while giving Al Sharpton respect and lots of face time.

thmcbb on March 30, 2010 at 4:07 PM

Rupert needs to buy CNN.

Then he can move the FBN channel staff to that location on the cable dial.

Fox can’t get better than 1st in all the time slots, unless it become 1st AND 2nd.

Hey, I wonder what Beck’s ratings would be opposite O’Reilly?

barnone on March 30, 2010 at 4:15 PM

Hey, I wonder what Beck’s ratings would be opposite O’Reilly?

barnone on March 30, 2010 at 4:15 PM

Willy Oh Really would be sucking his thumb within one quarter.

ya2daup on March 30, 2010 at 4:26 PM

With MS-NBC so far on the Left that it can barely be seen and Fox News Channel leaning right,

Hannity is the ONLY show that leans right. The rest is just the facts…you know, the facts that seem to elude CNN and the rest of the liberal networks. That is why I can only watch FOX, because i want the NEWS not liberal agendas.

royzer on March 30, 2010 at 4:27 PM

Just checked the latest ratings for Beck Vs.O,Reilly .Last fri O,Reilly only beat Beck by 190,000 and beck show is not even a prime time show.Believe it O,Reilly is worried.

thmcbb on March 30, 2010 at 4:30 PM

The left don’t know they are left. They can’t fix what they don’t see as broken.

Extrafishy on March 30, 2010 at 4:37 PM

The only reason CNN has any viewership at all is because it’s on in airports. As if flying isn’t unpleasant enough.

redwhiteblue on March 30, 2010 at 4:42 PM

Hannity is the ONLY show that leans right. The rest is just the facts…you know, the facts that seem to elude CNN and the rest of the liberal networks. That is why I can only watch FOX, because i want the NEWS not liberal agendas.

royzer on March 30, 2010 at 4:27 PM

word.

StoneKrab on March 30, 2010 at 4:45 PM

Just checked the latest ratings for Beck Vs.O,Reilly .Last fri O,Reilly only beat Beck by 190,000 and beck show is not even a prime time show.Believe it O,Reilly is worried.

thmcbb on March 30, 2010 at 4:30 PM

Heh. He read some viewer mail last night from someone praising Beck. Then he followed it with a letter from another viewer who said something like “Beck is OK but O’Reilly is the real deal.”

Sounded like a little kid wrote it.

UltimateBob on March 30, 2010 at 4:56 PM

CNN would have to dump its entire line up of left leaning, Obama Fan Club charter member hosts; from Wolf Blitzer to Larry King and every political pundit and newscaster in between.
And also clean out the anti-Republican, anti-conservative, anti-American, anti-capitalist swamp of producers and editors behind the cameras.
Basically CNN would have to fire everyone and bring in a totally new team.
Impossible.

It is a race between CNN and MSNBC to the bottom and the only one that can change it would be the stock holders.

albill on March 30, 2010 at 5:00 PM

Cue James Earl Jones: “THIS IS WAS CNN”

How the mighty have fallen.

infidel4life on March 30, 2010 at 5:11 PM

Most things in this country are discarded rather quickly as our largely ADD society tires of them. Amazing that LSM fossils like Larry here keep going on and on and on for decades.

Dr. ZhivBlago on March 30, 2010 at 5:14 PM

Let me see….Megyn Kelly…Larry King…Megyn Kelly….Larry King…gee I wonder which one I would rather listen to and look at…
Some things are so obvious it is embarrassing to comment on…

right2bright on March 30, 2010 at 5:44 PM

Hannity is the ONLY show that leans right. The rest is just the facts…you know, the facts that seem to elude CNN and the rest of the liberal networks. That is why I can only watch FOX, because i want the NEWS not liberal agendas.

royzer on March 30, 2010 at 4:27 PM

Hannity and Beck

right2bright on March 30, 2010 at 5:45 PM

To paraphrase the left, CNN has “squandered the goodwill” of the American news-viewing public.

It’s too bad for CNN because it “made its bones” during the 1991 Gulf War.

While I have to give the hard-bodied females at Fox a considerable amount of credit for this lopsidedness, I lay a lot of the responsibility on the tendentious reporting and commentary by exclusively left-leaning reporters, correspondents and hosts.

MSNBC, on the other hand, is more Romper Room for liberals.

molonlabe28 on March 30, 2010 at 6:18 PM

CNN, I’ve heard they have hundreds… dozens of viewers!

ajacksonian on March 30, 2010 at 7:56 PM

CNN can’t fix their situation. They stink from the top down. They’d have to completely gut their marxist producer / edictorial personnel to have a chance at rectifying things.

rayra on March 30, 2010 at 9:36 PM

CNN executives have steadfastly said that they will not change their approach to prime-time programs, which are led by hosts not aligned with any partisan point of view.

I cannot think of any host or anchor at CNN who is not partisan. I hope CNN will never wake up.

Birdseye on March 30, 2010 at 11:14 PM

Fox treats the liberal pundits with respect too. Most of the time they are enjoying themselves. They’re not set up as punching bags for all the bien pensant.

PattyJ on March 31, 2010 at 2:27 AM

The only way I know the names of any of the CNN anchors is from the Internet. I never watch, the channel except for a few hundred milliseconds when I am clicking by. I have not watched 60 minutes in the last 25 years or so either.

Dasher on March 31, 2010 at 8:22 AM

I love nothing more than the failure of company “leaders” in their inability to give clients want they want.

Newspapers have been perfecting it for years… makes sense the old “new” media would follow suit.

Odie1941 on March 31, 2010 at 9:19 AM

Larry King is a fossil but Rick Sanchez irritates the hell out of me. What has Rick Sanchez ever been been good at news? Maybe he is good with leftist douchebaggery but always annoys the f*** out of me. Campbell Brown should not be allowed to give her political opinions. She always has a look like she wants to kill someone. She tries to hide that look but it is always there. Perhaps it is not her fault.

nyx on March 31, 2010 at 10:10 AM

Isn’t CNN just the saddest story ever?

I feel badly for the media these days. Then again, that’s the drill in a deep recession/depression.

Even the press suffers.

Still, as an individual, you just have to wonder about the MBA thinking. Hello?

You erode your product, you will soon not have consumers.

AnninCA on March 31, 2010 at 10:56 AM

Another type of CNN will emerge and flourish, but not for quite a few years, I predict.

AnninCA on March 31, 2010 at 11:07 AM

Democrat media channels are not watched because the democrat rhetoric is above most of the public’s head. This is why democrats must talk down to and force people to watch. Democrats only want the best for the most amount of people. Democrat TV should be the only tv allowed. I love democrats.

daesleeper on March 31, 2010 at 11:17 AM

The last report from the last Lefty reporter on the last MSM news show will be making the same stupid, dishonest statements as the credits roll as they do now. Rot in Hell.

SurferDoc on March 31, 2010 at 11:17 AM

daesleeper on March 31, 2010 at 11:17 AM

You forgot your /sarc tag

Dasher on March 31, 2010 at 11:53 AM

they do better at balancing points of view in prime time than MS-NBC, which has become a lunatic asylum after about 11 am ET.

Ed, I burst out laughing at this, and 15 minutes later, I’m still smiling. Thanks for the chuckle.

DrStock on March 31, 2010 at 12:33 PM

Did anyone else see the hour long interview that Glen Beck did with Anderson Cooper, probably back when Beck was on HLN? It was good, and Cooper showed a great sense of humor and an ability to laugh at himself.

I think Cooper made a huge professional mistake when he ridiculed Tea Partiers. That said, he could redeem himself and his program if the powers that be at CNN would let him be more even handed in guest and topic selection.

DrStock on March 31, 2010 at 12:36 PM

I anticipate this decline to continue and expect a massive overhaul in the fall which will spike ratings at first out of curiosity but then decline once again.

Carl on March 31, 2010 at 4:39 PM

Seems that everything the left demonizes the public starts to notice and stops listening to the left except when it comes to who we should cast our votes for.

jawkneemusic on March 31, 2010 at 8:13 PM

What can CNN do to right the ship?

This is a question with no answer.

I live for the day that rusted wreck finally, after listing to port for so long, rolls on over and disappears beneath the waves forever.
The legacy of Ted Turner does not deserve to survive.

He can go be Kim Jong Il’s press secretary and tell the rest of the world that North Koreans are very healthy because they ride bicycles, unlike fat imperialist lazy American capitalist pigs feeding off of the sweat of the proletariat.

The same goes for the New York Slimes et al.

I do not want them to turn around their declining influence, I do not want them to survive.

I want them to go up in flames like HMS Hood, to continue the nautical analogy.

Creative destruction, let’s start over anew.

Brian1972 on March 31, 2010 at 11:58 PM

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