By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

CNN can’t decide whom it’s competing with

Campbell Brown

I can’t say I’ve ever watched Campbell Brown’s program on CNN. In fact, I almost never have the TV on at 8 p.m. So this has nothing to do with what she is offering viewers.

Instead, I want to ask a question about her announcement that she is leaving because she concluded her non-partisan program couldn’t compete for ratings with the opinion-driven talk shows hosted by Bill O’Reilly on the Fox News Channel and Keith Olbermann on MSNBC.

Simply put: Why?

CNN executives keep telling us that they alone are offering news, while Fox and MSNBC are just talk stations. They also keep telling us that CNN is very profitable. Given those two pieces of information, why should they see Fox and MSNBC as their principal competitors any more than they worry about TLC or the Food Network?

There’s a real disconnect here, and CNN honchos had better figure it out as they go about retooling their ratings-challenged prime-time line-up.

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  1. Mike LaBonte

    I can only guess she is looking at the growth trends, or someone has made her an offer she isn’t revealing. Campbell should know better than to compare the news business with the entertainment business though.

  2. Laurence Glavin

    How can you even remotely describe yourself as well-informed if you don’t watch Keith Olbermann at 8:00 o’clock every night!

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Laurence: I’m a semi-regular Olbermann viewer, but always at 10, never at 8. I’d watch Anderson Cooper if CNN made his show a legitimate one-hour newscast.

  3. jvwalt

    I hardly ever watch CNN, and it has nothing to do with the alleged duality between hard news and opinion. It’s because CNN is addicted to the multiple talking head: the screen divided into three, four, or even five people yakking away constantly, often interrupting each other. There is little information, and conclusions are avoided (“We’ll have to leave it there”). It’s a format designed to deliver heat, not light.

    CNN may be many things, but a serious news service it is not.

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