CNN Ratings Drops Hint Bipartisanship Is Gone

If TV viewing patterns are a reflection of the American political zeitgeist, there may be no appetite for bipartisanship, no desire for common ground, no hunger to break the Washington gridlock. People bemoan it all, but they sure aren’t gravitating to the network that looks to offer more of neutral stance, a third way.

A few more bad weeks and CNN officially becomes the Choking News Network. The series of lows the network continues to reach – in an election year, no less – is staggering.

According to reports, April was the network’s lowest-rated month in a decade by at least one measure. On May 15, CNN hit a 15-year bottom in prime time in the key 25-to-54 demo with a Piers Morgan show. Last week, CNN hit a 20-year low in weeknight prime-time ratings in total viewers.   

This is bad news. Americans are missing a chance to send a message that they are fed up with the bickering and blockading by giving CNN some leadership.



Washington types looking for clues that moving towards the center might do them well at the ballot box this fall certainly aren’t getting any motivation from the CNN ratings. If Fox News and MSNBC are sailing along, why not keep feeding the partisanship?

Don’t underestimate what motivates politicians and political operatives. Hints can come from anywhere. A surge in CNN viewership would gain notice within their island and might have an impact.

There’s the theory that Americans are so fed up with the news that only a relatively small batch of fervent conservatives and liberals are watching cable news, each looking for reassurance their positions are sturdy and for some ammunition to damn the opposition. If so many people, however, are that sick of the news, that’s another big problem for the republic, particularly in an election year.

It could be the programming. CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Piers Morgan might not be as attractive as an O’Reilly or Maddow, but if so many Americans are allegedly looking for a third way, both of the CNN personalities have enough to offer to fit that standard.

Some say CNN only thrives when there is a major international crisis. A lot of what’s happening in Congress – or not happening now – is major international crisis, though. Where's the healthy debate about Afghanistan and Syria?

Also, it’s not as provocative as a Middle East revolution, but without better health care and an improved economy at home, there are plenty of international implications.

Yikes. Anyone hoping election results might usher in a more muted, cooperative tone in Washington in 2013 looks to be out of luck. That's according to the latest polls -- CNN ratings. 

6 comments about "CNN Ratings Drops Hint Bipartisanship Is Gone".
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  1. Michael Kaplan from Blue Sky Creative, May 22, 2012 at 5:04 p.m.

    Gee, you think it could be the programming? Of COURSE it's the programming.

    And just because CNN's on-air talent don't espouse far-right or far-left agendas, doesn't automatically make them attractive alternatives (or complements) to those who'd rather watch FOX, MSNBC or Current.

    There's far less actual "news" on the air at CNN than ever before -- if it's not fluff and personaliies and gossip than it's hosts that are, by turn, overbearing or underwhelming.

    You ask "where's the healthy \debate about Afghanistan and Syria?" I'll tell you one thing: it's not on CNN.

  2. Guy Powell from ProRelevant Marketing Solutions, May 22, 2012 at 5:13 p.m.

    I guess there are only three ways to view CNN:
    1) They are truly in the middle and they're doing a bad job at it. If they were doing well, then they would have an audience. Or is it that the audience is smaller than it used to be.
    2) They are more to the right and they're doing a bad job, because they are losing to fox
    3) They are more to the left and they're doing a bad job, because they are losing to MSNBC.

    It doesn't look good for CNN. Are there any options where CNN can be considered as doing a good job and meeting the perceived needs of their audience.

    Assuming the premise is correct that CNN is truly in the middle and the audience is disappearing, then they either need to admit to their shareholders that their profits will be very low and stay in the middle, or they need to move to the right and compete with Fox or move left and compete with MSNBC. I think they could easily beat MSNBC. Don't think they could beat Fox. The only problem is that MSNBC's audience is also pretty small, so they would have to compete for that small audience.
    Otherwise, they would need to figure out how to offer some innovation to create a new audience. This is what they did many decades ago with the 24 hour news station. Maybe they need to bring Ted back :)

  3. Chuck Lantz from, network, May 22, 2012 at 5:15 p.m.

    If CNN really wants to know why their ratings have tanked, all they have to do is get a list of the on-air people they have fired, kicked down the ladder, or let go over the past decade. That will tell them everything they need to know. ... Their new plan to move Right, and away from the center, in an ignorant attempt to draw Fox viewers, instigated by the then-new head of CNN programming, was dead on arrival. And now they are paying the price. ... They made the mistake of messing with a good thing.

  4. Scott Simon from Winning Web Video, May 22, 2012 at 8:24 p.m.

    It's about the presenter, not about the content. Fox News has lots of liberals who watch. CNN has very few conservatives who watch. People tune in to people in anticipation of what they'll say next. If one gets too predictable, the audience drops. CNN has gotten too predictable with less-than-average hosts and people anticipate a less-than-average performance. People are smart enough not to waste their time. When the do, the off button is clicked.

  5. Thomas Bench from P.J. Walker Communications, May 23, 2012 at 8:07 a.m.

    CNN, Ted Turners old left wing disinformation machine, is losing viewers because it swung to the right?
    What kind of liberal echo chamber do you folks live in?

  6. Christina Ricucci from Millenia 3 Communications, May 23, 2012 at 7:36 p.m.

    I remember so well CNN's debut in 1980. As a (then) young woman, I couldn't get enough of it. Imperfect, sometimes awkward, but more interesting with every week that passed. It gained momentum, went from Chicken Noodle News to Cable Network News and became THE place to go, without thinking, almost on auto-pilot, when there was breaking news. Pregnant with my second child, I wept, glued to CNN when the Challenger exploded. I had two toddlers when Baby Jessica fell into the Texas well and my heart stayed in my throat while I watched men and women work tirelessly to bring her out. On election night, there was simply nowhere else to be but CNN. Wars, demonstrations, scandals, world crises, lawmakers and lawbreakers...CNN was the place to go. Politically they SAID something, very often something I didn't agree with and didn't like at all, but it was real, definitive. And now? I don't even recognize CNN. Personality television, pop culture, boring interviews by boring hosts, no depth, abysmal content, push the cool graphics; move to the left, move to the right, stand up-sit down fight-fight-fight. Please CNN, bring back the news. I miss it. And as for the supposed move to center...? To me the center is the fence, and a network which straddles it is wasting my time.

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