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Can a broken news network be fixed?

Politico notes that CNN has suffered a 40 percent decline in prime time viewers since 2009. And it speculates about how to “fix” CNN’s broken operation.
Politico’s advice is based on the premise that CNN is losing out due to its “down-the-middle news strategy.” According to Politico, CNN should seriously consider abandoning that strategy and emulating Fox and MSNBC “with their ideological slants and big personalities.”
There are at least two problems with Politico’s analysis. First, as the New York Times reports, MSNBC’s ratings are also down. Second, the claim that CNN plays it “down-the-middle” is subject to serious dispute.
In my view, CNN’s problem is that it matter-of-factly presents the news from a liberal perspective. Viewers might watch an old-fashioned, matter-of-fact news cast on cable television, but only if they are confident that it actually is down-the-middle. Tone, in other words, should match content.
Viewers might also watch left-liberal dogma if it is entertaining, although MSNBC’s use of this model is hardly a raging success. But at least its tone matches its content
However, viewers clearly have no use for slanted news presented blandly. Thus, Anderson Cooper, who found it so amusing to talk about “tea-baggers,” finds himself losing at times to repeats of shows on MSNBC and HLN, according to the New York Times. And liberal Larry King, formerly CNN’s rock, has only a little more than one-fourth of Sean Hannity’s audience, is losing to Rachel Maddow, and is even threatened by a new host, Joy Behar (a comedian) on HLN.
I tend to view CNN’s U.S. broadcasts as a kind of loss leader for its international operation. Even so, this is getting to be ridiculous.

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