The head of CNN, Jim Walton, said goodbye as CNN continued its decline in the ratings war. CNN was once the leading light of cable news but FOX has long passed CNN and now MSNBC is running ahead as well. CNN’s present problems are the result of many factors swirling around at once. It runs behind MSNBC for the simple reason, CNN has attempted to play the neutral news observer while hiding its own leftist bias whereas MSNBC decided a decade ago; no more attempt at being unbiased. MSNBC is the leftist playground including all the hatred and venom directed at the right. There is no rumor or bigotry too small for MSNBC to publicized against their opponent and the evening line up is nothing but one leftist host after another detailing the news from one side. There is no attempt to be a news gathering organization but to represent one point of view; the latest talking point of the left. MSNBC has stolen the leftist audience and FOX’s surge in ratings left CNN with few left to cultivate.
Fox is the news station that leaves the left apoplectic but the irony is that Fox news has become the least biased news programming. Roger Ailes has managed to snag some of the better reporters from other networks. Former CNN reporter Ed Henry and John Roberts joined Fox to strengthen their coverage plus Bret Baier has become a leading anchor in the tradition of Walter Cronkite and others.
Charles Krauthammer once observed that FOX has managed to grab a niche audience, half of America. The genius of Ailes was to produce a network that appealed to conservatives and considering that 40 percent of Americans consider themselves conservatives; this represent a significant audience that has long given up on the mainstream media telling them the full truth. Ailes added entertaining such as Bill O’ Reilly while building a news organization that rivaled CNN. CNN lost the left and did little to attract the right and, the middle either kept their loyalty to traditional news or drifted to FOX. There was a time that when a major new story broke out, cable would go to CNN but now FOX is the station people turn to during a crisis. This is due to Ailes building up the news department.
As for CNN, they are presently caught between a rock and a hard place. There are no hosts that grab the public imagination and Piers Morgan has proven to be a failure so far. The colorful Brit never attracted much of audience, if you want an entertaining leftist, you can simply watch Rachel Maddow. So where does it go for audience and how does it build up its news programing and ratings? As Fox discovered, having centrists like Bill O’Reilly or conservatives like Sean Hannity host their programs attracts a bigger audience. Considering there are nearly three plus decades of showcasing the liberal ideology of most reporters, approximately half of America viewed much of the news establishment as biased against them.
Which leads us to the ultimate question: What does CNN do? Since FOX’s audience is still smaller than the combined ABC, NBC,CBS, CNN, and MSNBC mainstream machines, there is still an audience to garner by rejecting the liberal bias in most news programs. So what would happen if CNN actually turned their evening program over to a noted conservative to compete with the FOX evening line up? CNN does have a news organization good at investigating and solid foreign coverage.
Interesting enough, NBC’s best reporters are located at CNBC, their business network. And, CNBC shows that good journalism can still be found within the mainstream news media. So can CNN combine their solid news reporting with a more broad based program that covers all angles? There are those who will argue that FOX is biased and there is no doubt that many of their programs are hosted by conservatives, but one should understand that if you are viewing Bill O’ Reilly or Sean Hannity, you are watching a program with an ideological edge just as you should understand that Ed Schultz will give you his opinion from the hard left. The real question is how does the news programs report the news. And, FOX does have two hours of simply news program detailing the day’s event. Bret Baier is not hired to be an opinion maker but a news reporter; a big difference. CNN has Wolf Blitzer under a similar role and remember MSNBC has no counter to either program.
There is no doubt there is a liberal bias, that is like a story dog bites man. The real question is how this bias affects new coverage and for many, the answer is yes that this bias does affect new coverage. CNN may find that maybe being more balanced in their news department might be the way back to the old days when CNN was the voice of cable. It is certainly that going in the opposite way is a complete failure.