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Oct. 27 2009 - 3:08 pm | 23 views | 1 recommendation | 10 comments



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CNN is the only cable news network I can stand. So, what’s up with its epic FAIL in the ratings? Over to The Monkey Cage:

Those who are not very interested in politics have a much greater tendency to be moderate. Those who are intensely interested in politics tend to be highly partisan. Now that the politically apathetic are dropping out of consuming political news, those who remain tend to be highly partisan – and much more interested in consuming Sean Hannity or Rachel Maddow (not that I want to equate these two except in more than a generic way) than in consuming bland, centrist pabulum. This all suggests that CNN finds itself in a very tough spot.

So, does this mean CNN should get more partisan? If that happens, I drop off the cable news map — as a viewer — entirely. I suspect many of its viewers feel the same way. The lack of partisanship, after all, seems to be why we’re watching.

I’ve already taken to switching to CNN International whenever necessary, like during Lou Dobbs. They’d have to leave that alone if they went partisan; there’s no international audience for crazy U.S. partisanship. So, I guess I have a last resort.

That said, I’m not even sure how CNN would “go partisan.” There’s already a conservative and a liberal network. Would they have to do a sort of “both sides” partisanship, giving a crazy right-winger one show and a crazy left-winger another show?


I like bland, centrist pabulum, goddammit. It’s called “news.”


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  1. collapse expand

    That said, I’m not even sure how CNN would “go partisan.” There’s already a conservative and a liberal network. Would they have to do a sort of “both sides” partisanship, giving a crazy right-winger one show and a crazy left-winger another show?

    We used to call this ‘Crossfire.’ It was terrible and CNN had the good sense to take it off the air. The problem is that Fox and MSNBC have taken Crossfire and made it 24 hours a day.

  2. collapse expand

    How loyal are you to CNN? When balloon boy was thought to be trapped, floating away to an unknown fate, where did you go to see the video? So many more choices now. Branding becomes key: I want to know why I should go to CNN and what I’m going to get when I do. And if they don’t deliver, well, plenty of other places to go.

  3. collapse expand

    If only CNN did offer real news from a centrist perspective. Instead they’re bogged down with bullshit — human interest stories, reading comments from anonymous internet posters… they’re just not putting together compelling TV.

  4. collapse expand

    I usually have CNN in the background but lately their conversational news style is grating on my nerve. It goes like this: We go to a reporter in the field who gives us the lede to a story…then the news host, Wolfe or some other guy, starts asking questions of the reporter, who answers, then a little rapport, then another question, then the host adds his slant with a response from the reporter, to be concluded with some inane remark from the host summing up the story. It is beginning to drive me crazy. Want real on air journalism go to BBC where the on site reporter gives the story, all of it in one go, then we go on to the next story. They insanely inform allowing the viewer to form their own opinions.

  5. collapse expand

    It’s not the politics, it’s the … well, everything else really about the cable news channels that I hate.

    There’s too much giggling, too much cross-talking, too little enunciation. On-air “talent” is so hyped up on Red Bull they stutter. Too many interviews are done by satellite hook-up, with out-of-studio participants alternately looking blank, frowning, or jamming a finger in their ear to keep the ear piece in place.

    Almost every story — from a momma cat nursing a newborn puppy to negotiations over Iranian uranium enrichment but excluding car chases — is given exactly the same emphasis. It’s insane.

    And just about the only things covered outside the US are related to US military adventures or the occasional natural disaster. Thus the average US cable news viewer never finds out how spectacularly wireless Finland and Slovenia are. Or about incredible solar panel farms in Spain. Or how in France, even the unemployed get 4 weeks of paid vacation. I guess it’s obvious why the average US cable news viewer doesn’t get that kind of info.

  6. collapse expand

    The type of story filing that libtree09 describes on the BBC strikes me as similar to a nightly news cast in the US… not sure CNN will adopt that?

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    About Me

    I'm a freelance writer and blogger based in Brooklyn, NY. My background is mostly in politics. I've worked on the editorial boards of the New York Sun and New York Post. In 2006, I wrote a book, "The Elephant in the Room: Evangelicals, Libertarians, and the Battle to Control the Republican Party" (Wiley). I've also done my share of freelancing, for places like the Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times, Reason, and RealClearPolitics.

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