Or maybe, just maybe, he should start acting … presidential. Granted, CNN has an economic interest in this ill-advised food fight between Fox and the White House, since it seems to have boosted Fox’s ratings in the same manner that Barack Obama’s direct attacks on Rush Limbaugh made the radio host even more popular. That doesn’t help CNN, but that doesn’t make the spot-on and unanimous advice from Wolf Blitzer’s panel any less correct:
Mediaite calls this a “stunning moment” — CNN forced to cover its rival as part of its political analysis:
Wolf Blitzer opened the discussion by asking David Gergen if he considered it a smart strategy for the White House to openly call out Fox News. “Its a risky strategy,” he claimed, “and it’s not one that I would advocate.” He continued (echoing thoughts expressed on Mediaite) “If you are going to get very personal against the media you’re going to find that the animosities are just going to deepen, and you’re going to find that you are almost going to draw viewers to people you are attacking. You build them up in some ways, you give them stature.”
Gergen makes some sense, but given the recent and rather stunning decline in CNN’s own viewership, one could easily see this as sour grapes. Perhaps more accurately, the fact that CNN’s covering the affect of opinion journalism is the best indication that traditional journalism is one step behind the opinion media. Which is probably the best explanation of why CNN is getting lapped by FNC.
Well, maybe, but that doesn’t explain why the all-opinion, totally non-journalism model at MSNBC has been tanking during the era of Hopeandchange. After all, if opinion trumps journalism, then NBC’s alter ego should be sailing to the ratings championship. Instead, it’s dragging anchor, with its viewership in sharp decline during the Obama administration.
In truth, all three competitors practice mainly opinion journalism. On MS-NBC, they have zero straight journalism, Fox has its Special Report hour and some business news shows during the day, and CNN does somewhat more of it than Fox. Fox gets better ratings than before (they were consistently beating both before the election, too) because its opinion journalism offers something different than the Obama Hosannah Hours that appear on CNN and MS-NBC. Fox offers a product that the other two cablers and the networks don’t offer, which is why their audience continues to grow.
With that kind of product line, it doesn’t hurt to have the White House contributing to the marketing campaign, especially for free. That’s why the White House campaign is ill-advised, and why it backfires on them.