CNN hit a new low in the ratings this month as its prime-time shows finished fourth -- and last -- among the cable news networks. CNN executives said the important thing was that the network still beat its sister network HNL (formerly Headline News) and MSNBC over the whole day -- trailing only Fox News. Why is CNN, which invented the 24-hour cable news channel two decades ago, suddenly struggling?
Viewers want opinionated screaming, not news: CNN is being punished, said Adam K. Raymond in New York magazine, "for airing 'news' while Fox, MSNBC, and HLN put on lunatics screaming at the camera." Larry King Live was the only CNN show that didn't finish "dead last" during the 7 to 10 p.m. slot -- and King only managed a third place finish ahead of HLN's Joy Behar. Clearly, the old formula is no longer working for "the originator of 24-hour news."
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Actually, CNN is over-opinionated, too: CNN's prime-time programs don't lack opinions, said Don Surber in the Charleston, W.V., Daily Mail. It's the "sneaky" way the network uses to express them -- "Anderson Cooper’s sneering contempt for conservative protesters," for example -- that's turned people off, and pulled prime-time ratings down 68 percent. "Cooper and company try to be stealth but they come of as snide and fake, as if they are trying to hide who they really are."
Bottom line — CNN has a charisma void: The reason viewers are dumping CNN, said blogger Attaturk in Firedoglake, is its prime-time personalities. Wolf Blitzer is bland, Larry King is "a horrid mix of Charlie Rose and Methuselah," and Lou Dobbs is inexplicable.
• What's next for Lou Dobbs?
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