Every once in a while, I come across an article that just boggles my mind. It’s getting harder and harder for people to do as I’m entering the second half of my forties. But give credit where it’s due: Scott Collins of the Los Angeles Times pulled off that feat with an article about the way to cure CNN’s ratings blues.
His proposed solution to the media giant’s glacial ratings decline?
CNN needs to stop being “balanced” and start “taking sides.”
Yeah, that’s the complaint about CNN all the time.
“Oh, they’re too fair.”
“Oh, CNN, they’re so unbiased I could just scream.”
CNN’s problem has not been being too unbiased. The network hires just about every out-of-work liberal politician driven out of office by scandal. They were home to Eliot Spitzer, for crying out loud, and you can bet they’ll someday try to hire Anthony Weiner.
CNN’s problem has been, quite frankly, bad hires driven by politics rather than by media acumen.
The best example of this is in their choice to replace their biggest franchise host, Larry King, after he retired from Larry King Live.
The smart money, and indeed, the best bet to win new viewers to CNN, would have been American Idol host Ryan Seacrest. He was even King’s choice for his replacement. And it makes sense. Seacrest has the same deep radio background as King, lives to interview people, and is unquestioningly popular.
But the suits at CNN-TimeWarner thought the acerbic, and more outspokenly liberal Brit-wit, Piers Morgan, would be the better choice. He’s been a ratings flop. Why? Because he has no likability factor… something Seacrest has a in spades.
CNN often alluded to a “more international appeal” in choosing Morgan. That’s not getting them much traction in the US, though.
But if it were Ryan Seacrest in King’s chair? Well, let’s just say one really good hire could over over a multitude of bad ones. And all without changing their approach to the news.