CNN Fails to Learn - Jim Acosta Lecturing in Primetime Was a Total Bust

(AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

The foundering network foists its failed formula…for some reason, and Jim Acosta fails in the process.

On Monday, I covered that after a year of continuous ratings erosion, CNN was going back to its same methodology of broadcasting the drumbeat of our dismal democracy. After a year of obsessing on the Capitol riot, and getting trounced as it “celebrated” the one-year anniversary, CNN has decided that a new series continuing that failed focus was a splendid idea. It proved to be the polar opposite of splendid.


Along with its many troubles, CNN has to grapple with what to do with its 9 pm primetime slot. The disgraced Chris Cuomo was finally sent packing in November, but as much of a journalistic embarrassment that their former host had been his was their top-rated show. The network has been trying to figure out what to do with the vacancy, as the nine-o-clock hour is one of the more flush times for audiences across the news nets.

The latest experiment has been a series, dubbed Democracy In Peril, where CNN continues its dour approach to the nation, a stance that has repelled viewership for a year. Last week, they placed the failing morning show hostess Brianna Keilar in the seat and got dismal returns, so the next move was to continue this failed experiment with one of its perceived stars, Jim Acosta. It did not go well – at all.

As Jim was poised to launch into a night of lectures and grave promises of doom for the nation, over at Fox they gave Jesse Watters a new gig at the 7 pm hour. He managed to draw over three million more viewers than the wizened and experienced Acosta. The Watters debut was watched by 3.8 million viewers, while Acosta was left with a meager 511,000. The CNN experiment performed so poorly that Watters and Tucker Carlson drew more people in the advertiser demo than Acosta’s entire audience. But it gets worse.


While the Jesse Watters figure can be chalked up to audience interest in a new program, Acosta was technically new as well, but there is another metric showing how bad this move has been. When Acosta came on he dropped 200,000 viewers from his Anderson Cooper lead-in, and then there was actually an increase when Don Lemon began his show at 10 pm. Jim Acosta actually drove people away.

CNN has a serious challenge on its hand as the network currently has a huge hole in its programming in a very key slot of the schedule, and they seem to be adrift in finding an answer. All the while, it continues to drift away from the competition, getting beaten in the overall ratings by the likes of The Hallmark Channel and The Food Network. About the only glimmer of good news was that soon after Chris Cuomo’s departure, they inserted Michael Smerconish in his time slot, and Smerconish actually saw higher ratings in his brief run-up to Christmas.


The question becomes why not look into plugging Smerconish in for another trial run and see if he can cement an audience? Instead, CNN appears intent to continue to sell this approach of doom and gloom coverage and to do so with proven talent that has not delivered ratings worth mentioning. They are employing the very definition of broadcast insanity – doing the same thing over and over, expecting to get a different result.



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