by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
CNN’s warped obsession with reporting about supposed adultery demonstrates a larger problem at the once-proud and groundbreaking channel. CNN’s focus is not on news, but on distracting itself and the nation’s news consumers with peripheral and sensation gibberish that fails to enhance the national dialogue. In the run-up and aftermath to the recently passed government spending bill, CNN mentioned McDougal and Daniels more than three times as often as the spending bill. The spending bill, of course, isn’t photogenic, but it impacts citizens way more than a playmate model.
Even with the occasional ratings bump created by frenzied coverage of adulterous romps, CNN struggles to find an audience. Cooper normally gathers just over a million viewers per night for his two-hour prime-time show. That’s almost a half-million viewers fewer than disgraced anchor Brian Williams can generate for his 11 p.m. newscast on location from Siberia on MSNBC.
CNN wants to be “the most trusted name in news,” and likes to suggest it is on the objective, high road compared to more partisan competitors at MSNBC and Fox News Channel. News consumers who are political moderates or right-leaning, however, have a hard time buying that promotional line. …
… CNN President Jeff Zucker blasted Fox News recently at a journalism conference in New York, calling his cable nemesis “a pure propaganda machine.” Fox News’s prime-time programming is no doubt opinion driven and broadly defends the White House, but Zucker’s ratings envy rant overlooks solid journalism being done at Fox by anchor/reporters such as Bret Baier, Shannon Bream, Shepherd Smith and others. Zucker would make better use of his time focusing on the content of his own channel.