Smart Counter-Programming Idea for CNN

It's amazing that half the country votes Democratic, and yet no network wants to cater to this huge market.

The American Street » How CNN can Beat Fox.

If CNN wants to take over the news business again, they have one choice to make. And that is to be unrelentingly antagonistic toward the Bush administraton and the Republican party establishment.

This will generate a lot of attacks, whining, and complaining from the rightwing media machine. It may even generate a boycott of the network by the GOP, and/or a freeze out by the Bush administration.

If it does, that is 100% solid ratings gold for CNN. Nothing generates publicity like controversy. And nothing sends people rushing for their remotes to tune into your network like the prospect of fireworks.

Be honest. Do you tune in to watch American Idol to see some great feats of vocal gymnsatics? Or to see who will be the next William Hung?

CNN should summarily fire every one of its sycophantic, boring reporters, and hire evey liberal, entertaining, anti-Bush firebrand they can find. Do story and after story after story on the latest way Bush is screwiong America and the world. Hire Al Franken, John Stewart, Joe Conason, Ed Schultz, and Bob Somerby. Tell people that if they want balance, they should become buddhists.

You can bet that every network, and major newspaper will write editorials denouncing CNN, and attacking them. Howie Kurtz will have a connyption! Advertisers will pull out. The establishment will run for the hills. But you can also bet that CNN will no longer be hemorraging viewers.

People will tune in. And when they do, a market for anti-GOP, anti-Bush news will be born.

I accept as given that more Democrats want a more balanced, reality-based, news program than people from the Other Party, indeed like something that challenges them from time to time. But that can't be true of all Democrats — just as the opposite isn't close to true of all Republicans. But even so, that should leave a big narrowcasting market of red-meat Democrats.

Note that this is an argument against interest: I can't stand Air America any more than Air Fox.

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9 Responses to Smart Counter-Programming Idea for CNN

  1. Tom says:

    Who knows, it might actually be good for their bottom line. Bob Somerby on cable news — hah!

    But would it really help “our side”? I often wonder if people don’t overestimate Fox’s sway over public opinion. My wife hates it, but I am hooked on Fox for the kitsch value and I can’t be the only one. It would be fascinating if we could discern how many of their viewers watch earnestly vs. ironically.

    That said, I think all of the overheated blather on AM radio and cable news really does “hurt America.” It would be be great if the market were hungrier for good ol’ fashioned empiricism, but that is just not the way things go these days.

  2. Katherine says:

    I’ve thought this for years. I figured MSNBC as the more likely candidate, since they REALLY have nothing to lose….it amazes me that they continue to think the only ideological niche available is halfway between CNN & fox

    I don’t want a left wing fox, I want a real news network that:
    –actually breaks stories
    –and does real investigations
    –and distinguishes between truth and falsehood
    –and covers the most important stories instead of what everyone’s currently screaming loudest about
    –and is utterly unintimidated by the inevitable accusations of liberal bias.

    Not so much Al Franken as Seymour Hersh, Dana Priest, etc. etc. For that, CNN’s a better bet, as CNN international is quite decent.

  3. Max says:

    I agree that in general liberals certainly want a more realistic appraisal of the world than conservatives, but I’d point out that they haven’t been receiving anything like that. The New York Times routinely prints conservative rumors as “news” while equivocating basic facts if conservatives find them unappealling. CNN isf unable to even describe critiques of the President, much less bring them up sui genesis. The whole dialogue has been warped so that the same effect can be created by, you know, a functioning media outlet.

  4. wayne says:

    You’ve got to be kidding. Time-Warner ins’t interested in this. They contribute to the Repubs. You’re asking them to betray their class.

  5. Hugh Hermanos says:

    Why can’t NPR have it’s own cable channel? We’re meek, yeah, but the meek are, at some point, supposed to inherit the earth. It’s more important to be right than loud.

  6. Altoid says:

    I second Katherine’s observation about CNN International. When CNNfn, the “financial network,” still existed, they ran international late at night and over the weekends. It really was very good. (When CNNfn had the plug pulled, BTW, our cable system replaced it with Nickolodeon cartoons– I really thought that one should go where regular CNN and Fox were.)

    Michael’s right that CNN really has nothing to lose– it’s so completely Stepford, so anodyne, in all respects. MSNBC and family are just all over the place, they have no identity I can see except decibels. How does anyone justify putting Olbermann in the same mix with Matthews and Scarborough? Not to mention the occasional Ron Reagan appearance. Odd, especially considering that they’d canned Donahue for being too successful.

    You have to think there’s a market for real news that’s reality-based and actually fact-checks what people say. It could be really fun, actually. And it does have to go back to the basic dynamic that the people worth fact-checking are the ones with the power.

    But it has to have good, absorbing visuals, which is what I’ve always thought was the real secret of Fox– the dark sets, the close-ups, the subtle oddities in most of their anchor people’s looks (almost always something odd about their eyes), the busy screens, the choppy tempos. Their visual people have read their McLuhan. CNN’s visuals are like a very sheltered 80-year-old maiden aunt’s idea of what’s good for the young people. Or something.

  7. Chris says:

    I’d be happy for a news network that simply didn’ t repeat slogans as if slogans were news, which is what would happen if there was a liberal equivalent of FOX. We’d get twice as many soundbites, but from different filters. I think most of us agree that FOX has done our country a disservice, but having an evil twin news network would be no better. It could easily become the vehicle for liberal tyranny, should they ever regain the political ascendancy.

    This is why I like blogs so much. In order to report the truth, one has to be fearless of the consequences. News networks live and die from advertising & stockholder opinion–if advertisers and stockholders tend to have the same political opinions…

    In short, the networks have too much to lose to report the truth & so they never will. But blogs cost little & have nothing to lose. Blogs can report propaganda and unreasoned opinion, but the ability of people to comment on posts (calling the blogger on the carpet when necessary, or the trolls) or ignore the sites altogether acts as a check and balance. So long as viewers have the ability to think critically, they will know the sites that consistently demonstrate good reasoning.

    In the end, both political viewpoints represent valid philosophies about what government ought to do, with each view carrying certain risks and advantages, and in an ideal world both views can respect/inform/check each other even as there is tension between the two. But reality is neither conservative nor liberal, and either viewpoint carried to extremes is asking for trouble.

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  9. Joe says:

    Air America is compared to “Air Fox,” which suggests the latter is only half bad. The broadcasting on Air America after 3 (except for various guests, such as bloggists etc. probably reads now and again) is tedious and rant filled. Before 3 (and weekends, see Laura Flanders), the station is pretty decent. Many of the sort of experts listed in the article are semi-regulars on Al Franken’s show, including writers of Slate, Joe Conanson, Paul Krugman, and others. Sibel Edmonds also is another notable guest on various shows. The morning show is somewhat trivial, but has some value, and it’s 6-9am anyway. Morning drive with a side of facts isn’t too bad. The mid-morning show also often has some very good guests, again providing the details not found on other news programs.

    Since no all day news channel of this sort would be good all the time, I think the comparison is a bit unfair, though the station is clearly open to criticism.


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