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Glenn Halbrooks

What's Wrong with CNN?

By May 8, 2012

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TV news icon CNN is in ratings trouble. A new report on April's ratings show CNN had its lowest-rated month in more than ten years. That's despite the presidential race, which usually gives CNN a boost.

A photo of Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich during a Republican presidential debate on CNN
Even with this year's political coverage, CNN is still struggling in the cable news ratings.
Photo © Getty Images
It's no longer news that CNN loses big to Fox News Channel, or that it's now struggling to compete in some time slots with MSNBC. The headline is that after all the shakeups, with Piers Morgan replacing Larry King and an overhaul of the morning schedule, CNN executives appear to be no better off. In fact, the New York Times reports on the behind the scenes worries about which remedies are left to try.

CNN founder Ted Turner appeared on Piers Morgan Tonight to say he wants CNN to be the New York Times of cable TV news. That's just how Turner's channel appeared during its heyday.

Remember back to the Persian Gulf War of 1991. CNN showed the missle fire live, with green streaks lighting up the Middle Eastern sky. It was the first time a war had been brought live to viewers, and it remains one of the top 12 events that changed how media outlets cover news.

But that was five years before the birth of Fox News Channel and MSNBC, when CNN owned the playing field. Now with Fox staking its claim to the political right, and MSNBC moving further toward the political left, the playing field appears to have CNN stuck on the sidelines with no game plan for the future.

CNN has at least two stars, Morgan and Anderson Cooper. But with CBS News possibly eyeing to add Cooper full-time, the pressure on Morgan to perform would be intense. While he's one of the 10 media people to watch this year, his strengths are covering pop culture and celebrities, not hard news.

When you understand Nielsen ratings, it's hard to decide how CNN should chart its course for the future. It's easy to find people with lists of ideas on fixing CNN.

CNN used to attract viewers with Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff sitting behind an anchor desk, simply reading the day's news. There was no back-and-forth hollering with guests, no political slant to the stories. Somewhere, there must be people who simply want the news. Given CNN's ratings decline, maybe it's time to try that.

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Comments

May 11, 2012 at 7:27 pm
(1) Seneca says:

CNN is still a great news channel, and there is quite a bit that should be salvaged. I loved CNN and I watched it every night until Larry King left. I still watch Andersen Cooper every night, although I think CNN would do well to let the AC360 team report they way they’d like (as they did during the Gulf Oil Spill).

I gave Piers Morgan a chance, but I think he’s a very poor replacement for Larry King. He interrupts people and he doesn’t understand American life. I think he should be deported, if not jailed, for his coverage of the Trayvon Martin case (for attempting to incite riots) and it was during this coverage that I realized Piers Morgan’s yellow journalism roots are ruining CNN (evenings). We’re watching The Daily Mirror every night on CNN!! I haven’t watched Morgan’s show since his Martin case coverage, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has stopped watching his show for one reason or another. He’s unprofessional and not up to CNN’s quality.

If CNN is looking to improve their ratings, they need to realize that they won’t have the same viewers if they continue trying to turn themselves into The Daily Mirror. I wish they’d send Piers Morgan home. Let him go incite riots in England and leave Florida and the U.S. in peace. Just sayin’.

May 17, 2012 at 8:09 pm
(2) Arturo_Vandelay says:

CNN was always liberal, but especiallyh loved Clinton. Using Crossfire to showcase Clintonistas against conservatives like Pat and Bay Buchanan and the Prince of Darkess, who regularly attack Republicans. All the shows were hosted by liberals, Jesse Jackson, Jake Tapper, etc. Now supposedly Fox has already staked out the conservative side while MSNBC is just moving left? They are the most biased network EVER already. All openly campainging for Dems while seldom having a single Republican voice.

CNN still won’t have your book on if you say anything bad about Obama. Name me anyone on CNN who isn’t the same hiding liberal that’s been there in the past? At least MSNBC is honest about their bias as of lately. Despite trying to make Matthews and Olberman “anchors”.

June 26, 2013 at 11:07 am
(3) david lyle says:

you people are worse than any stupid game show i ever turned off. your milking this trial for every min. you can get. im pissed because your the only station covering it . you stop it and break away every 2 min. or so. makes me want to throw something through the t v screen.

February 13, 2014 at 6:08 pm
(4) Seymour Chad says:

Which CNN executive selects Newt Gingrich for Crossfire? He is a disgraced ex Speaker; with a history of moral, ethical violations-to represent the right. Clearly, there are better choices.

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