CNN has been on a downward spiral for years in terms of shoddy reporting, laughable attempts at trying to find "equivalency" on both sides of an issue when there is none, spending more time reporting on the more lunatic reactions to the healthcare debate instead of reporting facts, substituting reporters questionable opinions for journalism and all the while insisting on reminding us every five minutes that they are supposedly "the best political team on television".
But the latest numbers for CNN are nothing less than catastrophic: Larry King's ratings are down almost 50% as is Anderson Cooper's. Campbell Brown is down considerably and "American Morning" has fallen to last place among morning news shows. And for good reason. Their journalism is embarrassing.
And while CNN's ratings continued to slide dramatically, not just over the past few months but over the last few years, CNN management's approach to trying to stop the bleeding has been like using a cold remedy to cure cancer.
Their latest attempt at a remedy is a right wing blogger on the lunatic fringe named Erick Erickson and their hiring him is in the hope he will attract some of the right wing lunatics that watch Fox News and believe it now that more intelligent viewers have abandoned them.
How nuts is Erickson? He has threatened to answer his door with a shot gun if a census worker shows up and has spewed the usual big mouth right wing tough guy talk that never gets backed up but is used to intimidate and incite the dumbest and those incapable of thinking for themselves.. Which it sometimes does.
As the Washington Monthly reported, Erickson called retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter a "goat f--king child molester," referred to two U.S. senators as "healthcare suicide bombers," praised protesters for "telling Nancy Pelosi and the Congress to send Obama to a death panel" (something he later took back, no doubt worried that it might have broken the law) and called President Obama winning the Nobel Prize "an affirmative action quota.".
While I agree that Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize was a joke for many reasons, the affirmative action reference clearly defines Erickson as a racist.
The Washington Monthly also quoted Erickson as saying, "At what point do the people tell the politicians to go to hell? At what point do they get off the couch, march down to their state legislator's house, pull him outside, and beat him to a bloody pulp for being an idiot?"
This is how CNN is hoping to stem the tide of their ratings collapse, by making Erickson one of CNN's on air contributors who will be appearing on John King's nightly CNN show..
But this isnt the first time CNN management has resorted to something stupid to try and stop the ratings slide. When CNN first started to slip badly because of badly reported and presented journalism, CNN's answer was profound. They decided to change the set.
Suddenly anchors and reporters were standing, walking, and using touch screen displays to communicate their inaccurate, empty and lackluster reporting and much to management's surprise, it didn't help the ratings.
After Obama was elected they hoped that pandering would boost ratings using special reports like "Black in America", a special on MLK, a special on the King assassination and two new African American anchors who, quite frankly seem like nice guys but are unwatchable as anchors for a news organization as are the anchors who were already there.
Rick Sanchez, another CNN anchor, panders to college students at 3 p.m and uses the word "cool" more than anyone in the history of the news business. He also presents the news like he feels he is talking to a collection of idiots. Sanchez has frequently been caught reporting facts that proved false as well.
CNN pioneered what I called the WWF school of journalism -- bring on someone from one side, someone from the other, use the anchor like a referee, let each side say anything they want and attack the other without proving a word of what they have to say, do nothing to challenge the statements of either guest, do nothing to prove or disprove any statement made, and then think you did your job by presenting a "balanced" presentation when "balance" has no value in true journalism. There are not two sides to every story. There are only facts.
How dishonest is CNN's approach to journalism? A few years ago CNN started running a slogan calling themselves "The Most Trusted in Name in News". The fine print disclaimer told us this was based on a Pew Research Poll. The problem is the Pew Research Poll specifically asked the question " do you trust ( cable network) to accurately report the news?"
Based on the Pew findings, 69% of respondents said they did not trust CNN to accurately report the facts. The other two cable networks fared slightly worse with 70% saying they didn't trust MSNBC and 71% saying they didn't trust Fox. This is the basis for CNN calling themselves "the most trusted name in news".
One might think that CNN would look at those numbers as trouble and think they had to do something to make their reporting better and a lot more credible. Instead someone in the marketing department looked at those numbers and said, " hey, people might not trust us and our reporting stinks, but the other two networks stink a little more, and a few more people distrust them than us so we can truthfully run a tag line saying we are the most trusted name in news."
Management obviously thought that was a brilliant idea, and no doubt the marketing person got a raise. But no one asked the obvious question -- if a news organization cant tell the truth about themselves, how can they be trusted to tell the truth about the issues facing the country?
The answer is they cant and obviously the great majority of people know it and while the marketing person probably got that raise CNN's ratings have been crashing ever since and will continue to unless there is a major house cleaning at CNN from the top down. And bringing in a right wing lunatic with a gun isnt the kind of house cleaning that is going to work.
And who is the village idiot at CNN this time who hired Erickson? His name is Sam Feist, CNN poliitcal director and vice president of Washington based programming. According to Feist, Erickson is the "perfect fit" for John King's show. He may be right. But not for the reasons he thinks.
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