This gets ahead of the careful build of Politics Part 1, –> Politics Part2–> … , but you have to play the ball where it lies. It comes on the heels of (CNN) News outlets should be openly ‘pro-democracy,’ journalism professor says.
CNN, firmly pro-democracy for quite a while now, has suffered a disastrous decline in ratings. (Deadline) Fox News Tops Third Quarter, But All News Networks See Year-Over-Year Declines. Quoting (Forbes) Fox News Easily Wins November Ratings As Cable News Networks See Steep Declines From 2020,
According to ratings data compiled by Nielsen, Fox News delivered an average prime time audience of 2.578 million viewers in November, followed by MSNBC (1.091 million total viewers) and CNN (654,000 viewers).
On the tech side, CNN is addressing this with development of a new streaming platform. But why does CNN lose to Fox on cable?
In mass media, the voices of reason are disadvantaged compared to incendiary voices. As a species, we are quick to anger in response to simplistic memes that propagate in ignorance, or in secretive subversion, as the January 6 committee is revealing. The opposing political force, principled outrage, is not the reciprocal; it’s an entirely different process. It takes time to find wisdom, and more time to sell it.
This is what CNN is selling. They are not doing a very good job.
My exposure to CNN is the website. The print journalism is all over the place; the anchors are from the top of the profession. Their characters project humility and likeability. They are earnest, and at the top of their games with politics. They aren’t selling because the pitch is off, the pitch that is baked into CNN.
The insight came from analyzing my own reaction when I hear main moralizers Jake Tapper, John Avlon, or Anderson Cooper explain Republican transgressions. Their explanations are cogent; the deliveries impeccable. There are things on CNN I disagree with, but not these guys. So I am bored. They are preaching to the choir. The size of the choir does not increase from preaching.
The antidote to boredom is not schadenfreude filler. It comes from an understanding of rage. Two types are consuming the country: Red Rage and Blue Rage. They are not opposites. This is significant to the ratings war.
If you’re stalwart Blue, you listen to CNN. Or maybe you feel you know what they’re going to say before they say it. One thing is certain: Your Blue Rage is not fire-in-the-belly burn-the-house-down Red Rage. All you can do is grit your teeth, bide your time…, maybe look away… –while elements of Fox are stoking fire.
Journalism has a history of frequent, though not inevitable political bias. CNN is these days self-consciously liberal. Liberalism is not by itself the foundation of U.S. political discourse, which is a perpetual state of teeter-totter. To best defend democracy, CNN should build bridges to those moderate Republicans who believe defense of democracy is of supreme importance. This can be done by providing a cross-party debate platform on a scheduled basis.
Some ideas of moderate Republicans may not be music to our ears. But with compromise gone from the halls of Congress, CNN could help bring it back. And it would be interesting. Chris Wallace says he wants to venture beyond politics, but he certainly knows how it could work.
So there you have it, CNN:
- A recipe for controversy instead of boredom=higher ratings.
- Bridges, with a platform that promotes compromise.
- Possible strengthening of the beleaguered Republican moderates.
Oh, and one more thing, CNN: Hire me.