Disregarding Audience Apathy, CNN Decides Jim Acosta Lectures in Prime Time Will Be a Big Hit

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

This special tanked last week, and Jim Acosta is ignored on the weekends, so combining these elements will be gold!

Beginning this Monday at 9 pm, CNN will continue its obsession with the January 6 riot in the Capitol and the ongoing insistence that our country is on the verge of a violent collapse. They are doing so despite some very pointed and direct evidence that this is doing the opposite job of attracting people to the eroding network. What is astounding is that nothing this news channel has attempted in the past year has delivered results – but it continues to try the exact same methods.

As a setup, we will look at some specifics. After enjoying a bit of a ratings boon with the general election, the network began to suffer audience flight. Now arguably, this was shared across the news networks, but overall FoxNews has enjoyed mostly a recovery, and MSNBC essentially reached a floor and held steady. CNN meanwhile has seen perpetual erosion.

The network has harped on the Capitol riot for an entire year and driven people away. They rewarded the insufferable Jim Acosta with a weekend hosting gig and he managed to lose audience from the prior incarnation. Then in the Spring, they revamped the morning show New Day, with Brianna Keilar as the main hostess and not only has it been a ratings sieve, but recently the show saw some of the lowest ratings in its history.

This was all laid out to explain how CNN behaves as if they have not hit an iceberg. First, after their obsessive January 6 focus (seriously, Wolf Blitzer commemorated the 9 month anniversary, like that is a thing) the network went full throttle a few weeks ago, dedicating the entire day this Jan. 6 to rehashing the event. Combined, the two channels delivered nearly 40 hours of Jan. 6 programming. They were rewarded with dismal results. As Brian Stelter gripedFox…provided basically the bare minimum amount of anniversary coverage,” they ended up beating both CNN and MSNBC with their marathons of remembrance. 

Fox led every hour of the day, including Joe Biden’s speech. In the total-day average, Fox did well enough to fend off the defense that the audience was fractured between the two, as Fox beat the numbers of CNN and MSNBC, combined. It was a resounding rebuke of the focus on the event and the perpetual beating on the GOP and conservatives as being culpable. CNN cannot brush this result aside by saying the event was more important; after the original attack on the Capitol, the network was crowing about its ratings during that day.

So, surely CNN had an awakening, and this laser focus on an issue most others are not consumed with has them addressing their approach, right? Actually, try the opposite.

Last week, CNN featured a special centered on the concept that America is poised to be broken forever from within. That cheerful concept was explored with Brianna Keilar as the hostess, in a show brightly dubbed Democracy In Peril. It bombed. On Monday, while running opposite Sean Hannity, his show pulled in over five times the audience of Peril. It was so bad that Tucker’s audience in just the key advertiser’s demo was bigger than CNN’s total audience for that show.

The network decided this worked so poorly that it needed to redouble that effort. Now, running in Chris Cuomo’s former position – Journalism In Peril – CNN this week will place Jim Acosta in the seat.

It is something to behold: a network that either refuses to learn its lesson or has simply given up entirely. What all this dismal performance evidence manages to do is underscore just how big of a mystery it is that this network has been signing plenty of talent to gear up for its upcoming debut of CNN+. This is the premium streaming service the news outlet is primed to start up this Spring.

How the network expects to draw a large enough paying audience for a subscription service when it is struggling mightily to get people to watch its channel for free remains the unanswered question.