No Way Back For CNN

Too late. Waaay too late.

CNN broke this story yesterday. Suddenly, under new ownership, the once respected cable journalism channel further retreated from its shameless partisan bias that metastasized during the Obama Presidency and ruined Ted Turner’s creation.

It’s doomed. There is no recovery from destroying trust, at least not when recovery will take years. On one night last week, every Fox News program had better ratings than all of CNN’s offerings for that night combined. This was completely predictable, and is a cautionary tale.

CNN’s abandonment of anything resembling objective, ethical and responsible journalism as it morphed into MSNBC-lite chased away conservatives, Republicans, independents and anyone who wanted to get accurate, complete news that wasn’t slanted, manipulated or censored to favor Democrats and their allies. If they didn’t go to Fox News, holding their noses, they defaulted to the web (like me.) CNN’s viewership was almost completely reduced to 1) old, half-awake traditionalists in denial who fooled themselves into believing that this was the same news source that used to be announced by the sonorous tones of James Earl Jones and 2) leftist partisans for whom the likes of Joy Reid, Al Sharpton, Lawrence O’Donnell and the other hacks on MSNBC were too much for their gorges to bear.

Well, the second group doesn’t want to hear negative things about Democrats, so they’re gone or going. People like me won’t trust any network that employs Don Lemon. The first group isn’t large enough to keep CNN in business.

The dilemma is a little like the Miss America pageant deciding that it needed to catch up to the times and stop concentrating on women’s physical assets. The only people who watched the dumb beauty pageant were tuning in for the bathing suits (certainly not the talent competition); the new, improved, non-sexist pageant may have been a theoretical improvement, but there was no audience for it.

And there is no audience for a fair and objective CNN, because they already alienated the market for one. Integrity and trust go together like Chang and Eng. Abandon one and the other goes too; they can’t be separated. CNN is suddenly alienating the audience that wanted to be lied to, and can’t regain the trust of those who resented their lies.

If there is going to be a genuinely ethical, competent, trustworthy broadcast news source—and there isn’t one now—it will have to start out that way, like the original CNN. For CNN itself, there’s no going back. It’s too bad, but some ethical misconduct has irreversible consequences

5 thoughts on “No Way Back For CNN

  1. When I was working up in for McMurray I had a coworker, Gina, who was about 50 years older than me. We had such great discussions, and I loved talking specifically about morality with her because she was a devout Catholic.

    I remember one night we were talking about trust and relationships. She was mindboggled over the idea that men my age could trust women my age when they’d had sexual relations prior to marriage. My bit of sage wisdom at 22 was “They haven’t lied. Birth control changed things, you’re unlikely to have children unless you want them, you’re less likely to get a disease, a lot of the secular reasons to hold off on sex before marriage dissipated since the 50’s. If she lies to you, I don’t know how you trust her ever again… But sex before marriage? Why would I care? I’m not held to that standard.”

    Gina, pushing 80, actually seemed to take that in. It was one of the many things I liked about her; she would listen. She would tell you if she thought you were wrong, and I was wrong a lot, but she would listen. That’s one of the (many) positions 22 year old me (in my humble opinion) got correct: Trust is relatively easy, it’s the next best thing to a default. Repairing trust? Almost impossible.

    It would be easier for CNN to shutter their doors and try to build a new News network than attempt to rebuild their brand with a huge swathe of America.

    • “ It would be easier for CNN to shutter their doors and try to build a new News network than attempt to rebuild their brand with a huge swathe of America.”

      Truer words have never been said; I for one will never trust anyone who was part of the “Resistance”, those who convinced themselves that Trump posed such a threat that it justified destroying any norm, any institution, any rule to facilitate taking him down. I always told those inflected with TDS (who still listened) that whatever threat Trump posed was transient and limited whereas the damage caused by efforts to take him down at any cost will prove more permanent and far reaching.

  2. Jack wrote:

    It’s doomed. There is no recovery from destroying trust, at least not when recovery will take years.

    Hope to shout! I mean, when somebody destroys my trust in them by being deceitful, unfair, biased, hateful and acting morally superior, how am I suddenly supposed to forget that behavior and go back to trusting them? I can’t, speaking only for me. I offer the excuse that I am only human, and not Jesus.

    CNN’s viewership was almost completely reduced to …

    You forgot air travelers. I still imagine that’s > 50% of their audience.

    The only people who watched the dumb beauty pageant were tuning in for the bathing suits (certainly not the talent competition); the new, improved, non-sexist pageant may have been a theoretical improvement, but there was no audience for it.

    That may not quite be true. I know several women who watch for its entertainment value, and I’m pretty sure most of them aren’t that interested in the bikini contest. However, you can be sure the vast majority of male watchers place the swimsuit portion as the top draw. When I watched, I might’ve watched if they were relegated only to one-piece swimsuits, but that’s just me.

    But whether or not it’s the bikini, at minimum the contestants must be easy on the eyes in every way and display that quality as often and in as many ways as possible. That’s why they call it a beauty pageant and not a “scholarship program” (for those who haven’t seen Miss Congeniality, Google it).

    And there is no audience for a fair and objective CNN, because they already alienated the market for one.

    To be fair, CNN didn’t do that alone. The blame for the decrepit state of the genre falls on a much larger subset of network and cable news programs. And you are totally correct in that the market for unbiased and fair news no longer exists, because there are virtually no examples of them extant.

    It’s too bad, but some ethical misconduct has irreversible consequences.

    Yes, well, and those irreversible consequences couldn’t have happened to a more deserving candidate.

  3. there is no doubt or argument about the untrustworthiness of CNN or its many left-sided partners. So why is its broadcast ubiquitous in every airport waiting for areas, every waiting room in Dr’s offices, public buildings, or in the glitter of Times Square.

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