Last month, internet radio talk show host Tom Leykis published an interesting blog, in response to a new story about problems at CNN. And he came up with an interesting solution:

How about repositioning CNN as “Cable’s Only All-News Network?” (After all, Fox “News” is only AM Tea Party talk radio on television and MSNBC is nothing but Air America-style talk radio on television.) If CNN tried this, Fox News would then immediately squawk loudly about it and, in the process, provide all the necessary promotion for CNN’s new focus absolutely free. READ MORE

Ignoring Leykis’ hyperbolic dismissals of female viewers, I think he makes a very good point. And he’s not the first to suggest this very thing. Current TV talk show host Cenk Uygur wrote about CNN and gave similar advice back in May:

In other words, do your job — report the news. The real news, not dueling talking points and manufactured controversies. My God, where is your investigative team? What’s the last story you broke? Of course, the reality is that you don’t want to break stories about Washington because that might offend some people. What kind of a so-called news operation is this afraid of their own shadow? “Oh my God, what if we offended someone in power. They might not come on our shows anymore and they might call us biased.” Or they might call you journalists. READ MORE

This is exactly what I think CNN needs to be doing. Except I like some of CNN’s reporters like Fareed Zakaria. Keep him, Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon, and Soledad O’Brian. Dump Nancy Grace IMMEDIATELY, she can take her sensationalistic crap to FOX, and also get rid of Dr. Drew. Let him do his various Celebrity Drug and Sex Rehab shows on VH1. Him doing hour-long specials on CNN about Michael Jackson or Lindsay Lohan, or other celebrities that he’s never actually met or treated, is just cheap ratings exploitation. Then hire some more quality journalists and revamp themselves as a just-the-facts NEWS network.

Fox has positioned themselves as the network for Conservatives and MSNBC has countered that as the network for Liberals (after trying and failing to compete for conservative viewers – remember when Alan Keyes and Dennis Miller had talk shows on MSNBC?), and they’re both doing very well at that. So let CNN say we’re just going to report the news and deal with facts. Be fair, but don’t worry about being “balanced”, that just leads to the mushy middle. If the FACTS lean one way, just report it, don’t worry if it makes one “side” look better or worse. When it comes to politics, report on the issues, don’t worry about the little gotcha stories. I don’t care if Mitt Romney makes some stupid comment about the Olympics, or if President Obama makes a dumb joke about the Special Olympics. They’re human beings, which means they’re going to say something careless every once and awhile, just like everyone else. Let the pundits on the other networks spend all day talking about that stuff as if it actually matters, while CNN actually looks at their records, and fact-checks their statements.

I remember when I first started becoming disillusioned with TV news, and this was back before Fox or MSNBC, I think, or at least they’re weren’t big yet and it was mostly CNN plus the 3 regular networks, was during the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal. When the issue of impeachment started to come up, all the talk shows would get various lawyers on to discuss whether Clinton’s lying under oath in that civil case fit the standard of impeachment as outlined in the constitution. And, what a coincidence, all the “conservative” lawyers said it did, while the “liberal” lawyers said it didn’t. So what was someone like me, who has no legal background, supposed to think? All those types of show did was reinforce whatever beliefs the viewers already had. And it turned out, apparently, that’s what most viewers want. They want to watch news that tells them what they want to hear.

That’s why I said trying to be “balanced” is often just as bad as being biased. Like when the news reports on issues like Climate Change. They’ll get some environmental activist and some Climate Change Denier on a show, let them shout and talk over each other for 7 minutes and then go to commercial and nobody learns anything. I say eff that. Don’t get any “activists” on the show, get SCIENTISTS. Actual credible educated people who’ve spent their lives studying the issue, and if the VAST MAJORITY of them have reached a consensus, then report that, and bring one of them on to talk about it. Don’t think you have to bring on someone who says the opposite, just to show “the other point of view.” There are still people who think the Earth is flat, or that the Jewish Holocaust didn’t happen, but no one with brains listens to them, and we don’t give them air time.

CNN’s Headline News Channel shouldn’t even be necessary. CNN should be “headline news”. Of course, the ironic part is I thought in the beginning HN was supposed to be the strictly news station as opposed to the main station which had been taken over by talk shows, sort of like when MTV introduced MTV2 to actually show music videos, but then they filled HN up with stupid talk shows too.

I think this approach, or HARD NEWS, will eventually draw more viewers and make it better network. Will it outplace the others? Probably not, but so what? There’s three 24-hour news networks, Someone’s going to come in 3rd in the ratings. But as long as the network is profitable, which it is, then that’s good enough, and it will regain it’s prestige.

Just my opinion

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