By David Brandt | June 29th, 2012
CNN is like family to me.
The first-ever 24-hour news network in the industry and I share a few traits. Both of us were born in 1980. Both of us were born and raised in Atlanta. And both of us completely lose it whenever snow falls for more than 20 minutes in and around town.
We also both love journalism … right? I do, though I struggle with its state in the realm of public discourse from time to time. And I’ve been thinking for a while now that CNN has been struggling with it to the point of desperation. It tried to stretch itself so thin to meet the supposed desires of an audience more and more inundated with hyperbolic, personality-driven commentary, incessant social media fandom, and outlandish publicity stunts – largely thanks to the neighborhood kids that eventually hit their growth spurts to become CNN’s bullies: MSNBC and FOX News.
Ratings for the network have been reported to be at their lowest point since before the Persian Gulf War in the early 1990s, an event that introduced the era when CNN set new standards for reporting and made 24-hour news coverage essential to the viewing public. Earlier this month, political correspondent turned-anchor John King had to see his show cancelled and replaced by an extended hour of Wolf Blitzer’s “Situation Room,” complete with the beard that’s as monotone as his voice. For several years before then, the network went through a cycle of prime time shows that all ultimately failed until the network settled on pulling the quasi-network brand Anderson Cooper back to the slot.
But it was the June 28 decision by the Supreme Court regarding the Affordable Health Care Act that the deer that is CNN jumped in front of the oncoming truck. For several minutes as the decision was being read, CNN wrongly reported that the law known as “Obamacare” had been overturned. Granted, FOX News also blew it by delivering the wrong outcome of the SCOTUS decision, but they’re regularly doing things like that – to the point that this May 2012 survey shows that viewers who watch FOX News know less about current events than people who don’t watch TV news at all. And yet, FOX News remains No. 1 in cable news ratings.