CNN's Ratings Collapse

"CNN Hits Lowest Primetime Demo Rating at 9 PM In 15 Years," TV Newser  reports, adding that Piers Morgan's show drew "only 39,000 viewers 25-54 at 9 PM." At Big Journalism, John Nolte responds:

This is what happens when you insult your audience by pretending to be objective; what happens when you utilize dishonest fact-checking to downplay stories inconvenient to your left-wing agenda; what happens when you bring conservatives on in an attempt to embarrass them, only to see it backfire; what happens when you carry Obama's racially divisive Trayvon Martin water and get it as wrong as anyone can; and what happens when some of your so-called talent is smug, ill-informed, insulting, and not terribly interesting.

CNN has a brand problem. For all their lunacy, at least MSNBC doesn't insult their audience by hiding behind a phony shield of objectivity. Fox News does it exactly right by drawing a clear line between their straight news and opinion programs.

CNN should simply step out of the closet. Things can't get any worse for them, that's for sure. Not only that, they could probably do better than MSNBC because they have smarter people and, to be fair, some actual journalists, like Dana Bash.

Like General Motors during the late 1970s, CNN is attempting to sell an obsolete paradigm to an American public that knows better -- viewers on both side of the aisle have made it clear that they want their news and opinion delivered by personalities whose opinions are known to them. That's why Fox has prospered, and why MSNBC has bettered CNN in the ratings -- whatever you think of O'Reilly and Hannity on the right, and Maddow and Al Sharpton on the left, you know what their worldview is, and can chose accordingly. Piers Morgan's meltdown during his first go-around with Jonah Goldberg was particularly telling, as Mark Hemingway of the Weekly Standard noted in their latest issue:

Unfortunately, those most in need of freeing themselves from the tyranny of clichés are still bitterly clinging to their own transparent attempts to dismiss people who don’t share their worldview. Jonah Goldberg recently found himself on the receiving end of a contentious interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan, who, in the middle of the interview, made a point of defending an Obama attack ad about Mitt Romney while insisting he supports neither political party. “If you’re not batting for Democrats,” responded Goldberg, “it’s a wonderful approximation of it.” To which Morgan quickly responded: “Let’s deal with reality.”

Inadvertently or not, Morgan couldn’t have made the case for reading Goldberg’s book any better.

Exactly. "Objectivity," as it was described by the networks, was a viable model in the 1950s, when television bandwidth was narrowly allocated, there was a (more or less) shared ideological consensus, and there were only three main channels for viewers to choose from. Today, DirecTV has hundreds of channels -- why should viewers invest the time in watching someone without knowing where he stands?

Morgan replaced Larry King, the venerable liberal but lovable curmudgeonly host, who had built a reputation for himself on AM radio in the pre-Limbaugh 1980s before being tapped by CNN. Morgan was simply thrust upon the American public by CNN, which have clearly rejected the unctuous Brit.

On Monday, Inside Cable News reported that "CNN Hearts Jake Tapper," the former Salon journalist who has also built up a reputation of being one of the few straight shooters in ABC's TV newsroom. Presumably Tapper wouldn't be replacing Morgan, but he would be the rarest of commodities at today's CNN: a grown-up. God knows they need one there.