CNN polls have been falling for some time now. Sadly CNN seems to believe that becoming just as shallow as Fox News and other superficial news channels is their saving grace. There was a time when CNN was the go to news channel. One would watch other stuff but when important events were at hand, CNN was the place to go. They were a real news channel. They have correspondents and news bureaus throughout the world and throughout the US; 10 in the US and 26 around the world. Yet with that entire prowess their US news is nothing but a shallow take on national and world events.
Any informed viewer watching CNN in America is well aware that they are no longer getting in depth news, but a shallow interpretation of news through the lens of corporate refracting. Worst, because they neither have a preferred ideology, nor objectivity, they seem to be wailing in the wind. We know Fox News is a Right Wing station. We know by definition they tilt the news in that direction or simply make it up. MSNBC is a Left Wing station. They either provide news biased to the left or simply do not report news that may have left insensibilities (e.g., lacking coverage of the Dr. Kermit Gosnell abortion massacre). To be clear, I am a Left Winger because Left Wing policies with very few exceptions are what made the middle class, provided people civil liberties, promoted legal equality, and codified equal access to success.
During both stimuli debates, CNN had the resources if it wanted to, to engage in the debate from a factual point of view with serious documentary pieces. During the Healthcare debate CNN had the resourses to go to every country that provide its citizens with humane, economical Universal Healthcare and provide the truth with comparisons. Instead they did ad-hoc type documentaries either after the fact or poorly done. They gave the idiocy of the Right plausibility (e.g., death panels, killing grandma, and government takeover of healthcare). If America wants idiocy, they already know where to go and who is best at it, Fox News. If they want real news with a Liberal bias, they know where to go, MSNBC. If they want soupy shallow news, they go to CNN’s little sister, HLN (Headline News). With CNN becoming very news shallow nationally, they really do not have much of an audience.
The best analysis I have found on the plight of CNN was given by Michael Johnson in the article he wrote for the Washington Times titled CNN's falling ratings: Blame the "anchors" from Anderson Cooper to Piers Morgan. He says:
But CNN’s international prowess gets truncated on the domestic service to make room for fragmentary news coverage, a barrage of commercials, plus warm and fuzzy features like this lead-in to an item recently announced by anchor Wolf Blitzer: “When we come back, a dog that got caught in a cactus!” Wolf’s dancing eyebrows provided the exclamation point.
Admittedly, Wolf is not all fun and games. Sometimes he tries to hold his viewers by worrying them. I wrote this one down as he finished reading some forgettable item that ended on a positive note. “Don’t go away, though. When we come back, there’s still plenty to worry about.”
The Dumbing Down of the News
He is not alone in his dumbing-down effort. Where Candy Crowley came from, God knows, but she brings precious little to her Sunday morning interview show. Last week, apparently fresh out of questions, she wandered into bizarre territory with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to ferret out something from his private life. It turns out he washes and irons his own shirts because “they gotta be done right.” Candy looked enviously at him, as if to say, “What a husband.”
In the end, Wolfie is a harmless traffic cop and John King is a rapid-fire robot. But the various “CNN babes,” as they call themselves, are as scary as their names – Bash and Yellin’ and now back on this eccentric team is the self-important Christiane Amanpour herself, who has had an extensive makeover now that she’s back at CNN.
None of the loud music or flashy graphics can compensate for the hours of fluff aimed at some imaginary common denominator, the adult with a bad case of ADD.
The decline in quality is taking its toll. Last week The Wall Street Journal reported on CNN’s weak ratings, now at their lowest point in10 years. Fox News and MSNBC are both gaining as CNN falters. Worse, The Huffington Post ran a story last week under the headline “CNN is terrible. Here’s why.” The story called CNN a “God-awful, wall-to-wall, epic mess.”
The dumbing down of the news will be the demise of CNN. The attempt to push stories for effect as opposed to value, as they did yesterday when erroneously reporting the “arrest” of the Boston Marathon Bomber will be their demise. Both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert had fun with that incident at CNNs expense and justifiably so.
When Stewart says in the video below
This is why you turn to CNN in a crisis. You know.We make fun of them sometimes. We do. We tell. We tell jokes at their expense. But obviously because they have boots on the ground and they can do the reporting, as one of their competitors I guess we get a little jealous of these kinds of exclusives.
That is the CNN we use to know. They have the resources and boots on the ground. As such they have the ability to be complete and factual.
Colbert in showing the lack of current journalistic aptitude, he shows how CNN and others who misreported the story about a dark skinned male being arrested had themselves become the news and likely added a level of angst to the population at large.
CNN has a division called CNN iReports. It is actually a wonderful idea that allows it to get excellent (and not so excellent) news and other content for free.
I still visit and submit a few commentaries every so often. In fact I was one of the winners of their Spirit Awards in 2011 and Pundit of the Week. There was a time when there was a group of serious citizen journalists providing factual commentary on current events.
One could see the decline in the network as less notice was given to factual commentary. It was evident this was not from the lower level producers but from a new policy. Silly superficial stories were given preference even on several serious events. They’ve lost active participation from many competent citizen journalist to other platforms.
A classic example of what CNN is becoming was there for all to see with the Carnival cruise ship Triumph that was disabled but not in any mortal danger. They over covered that story even as many more serious stories needed coverage.
When new CNN president Jeff Zucker was challenged on this issue, his answer was that complainers were just jealous. He forgot confirmation of a defense secretary was a more important story. There were stories throughout the world that should have been covered. Instead they had experienced journalist talking about clogged toilets and leaky sewage.
CNN is trying to be what it is not. CNN is a network with resources to be the real news network bar none. Until they get a President that is not a shallow hack, but someone really interested in providing news to an informed population, CNN will remain in the dumpster and America will be worse off for that.