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

Tag: Fox

Another dumb move by CNN

Why would anyone at CNN think it was a good idea to give a prime-time talk show to former New York governor Eliot Spitzer and Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker? There is only one reason anyone thinks Spitzer will be a ratings winner, and it’s not his non-existent journalism background or even his sharp analytical mind.

I’m not going to rehash what I’ve said before about CNN; you can read it here if you like.

Briefly, though, CNN touts itself as a profitable, news-driven alternative to the ideological talk shows on Fox and MSNBC. So why act as though your every programming decision is based on ratings? If CNN is truly in a different business from Fox and MSNBC, then what does it mean to say CNN comes in “third”?

Given that there is almost no way CNN can have an impact at 8 p.m. against the O’Reilly-Olbermann juggernaut, Jon Klein and company should have tried something radical. Like news. How about an hour of CNN International, which everyone who has traveled overseas tells me is exponentially better than what’s on the three U.S. cable nets?

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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