What is wrong with CNN and why are its ratings dropping faster than a meteor? Well, it is not the fault of Larry King or Anderson Cooper. They are a result of the problem.
CNN is a brand without a promise. It claims to be a news channel, but delivers the same playful entertainment content as TLC and the History Channel. At CNN, news is secondary to the personalities that host it.
This is the reverse of the heady days of CBS news when the program came first, even before icons like Walter Cronkite. It was the CBS News with Walter Cronkite. We knew very little about Walter. Knew nothing of his politics or personal life until well after his retirement. He hosted the show, announced the news, and reported on it. He did not fill the broadcast with alternating talking heads where, in the service of “fairness,” he had to alternate between interviews with Martin Luther King Jr. and the Grand Wizard of the clan. No, he was able to make the distinction of what is responsible and fair, and only reported the words of the former. That was news.
Today, we watch the CNN personality Anderson Cooper (AC 360), Wolf Blitzer in the “Situation Room” and Larry King Live. The star is not the news. The star is the personality of the celebrity. Haiti is not the big story for CNN. For it, the big story was how worn out, tired, concerned, deep feeling, and dedicated Anderson Cooper is.
CNN does not compete with FOX News. No one chooses between the two. We choose between Pawn Stars, Dancing With the Stars, Glen Beck, and AC 360. If we want news, we tune in Headline News.
Maybe we don’t want news any more. One thing is for sure, we don’t want the personality tainted entertainment cloaked as news from CNN anymore.