Why Can't CNN Break 1 Million Views?

AP Photo/Ron Harris

CNN, which has billed itself as “the most trusted name in news,” appears to not be as trusted as it used to be.

The cable news ratings for October 8, last Friday, continue to show the network struggling to pick up an audience throughout the day. Its most-watched show, Cuomo Prime Time, picked up only 798,000 viewers at the end of the week, putting it 29th out of all news programming that day. Here’s a full look at Friday’s performance.

This comes after months of struggling ratings for the network, which is far behind top competitor Fox News for the coveted 25-54 demographic.

CNN is struggling to find much of an audience at all, and despite great ratings during the Trump years, it seems that the cable news outlet cannot hold on to an audience that was hanging on to its every Trump-critical word until January of 2021.

But why is that? CNN has a lot of experienced journalists, hosts with strong personalities, and a big online platform that can flesh out the top stories of the day. Why are they unable, then, to keep people on their station?

The problem for the company is that they aren’t providing anything new or unique in their coverage. They don’t have anything to appeal to right-leaning audiences, especially with hosts like Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon insulting those very audiences on a nightly basis. They have let those two voices overpower the more “moderate” voices of the network, like Jake Tapper and Wolf Blitzer, the former of whom will at times challenge progressive guests and the latter of whom who covers the major stories more consistently.

CNN's Don Lemon
Photo by Jason Mendez/Invision/AP

Instead, progressive voices like Lemon and Cuomo chase away what is clearly the most active group of the 25-54 demographic, conservative viewers, and they have hosts like Brian Stelter and reporters like Oliver Darcy whose jobs are solely to watch Fox News and talk about what they’re saying.

So, if someone wants a far-left talking point, they can flip on over to MSNBC to see it done better and more efficiently. If they want to know what people are saying on Fox News, they’ll turn on Fox News. There’s no reason for an audience to stay on CNN any longer.

MSNBC is beating CNN in almost every hour, and CNN only has one show in the top 30 shows watched on Friday. There is nothing appealing to viewers.

On his show Sunday, Stelter bemoaned the low trust in the media, saying “If there’s a solution to this, and I don’t know if there is, because we live in one America and two media worlds, but if there is a solution, it’s through reporting, it’s through reporting, not repeating.”

Therein lies CNN’s problem. They aren’t doing the reporting. They are simply repeating. There is no honest take on the news from them. On one hand, they simply repeat Democratic talking points against Republicans and look to the reactions on social media rather than actually digging into the stories to figure out the underlying issues. There is no true analysis when your coverage is largely “Republican man bad, Democratic man good.” On the other hand, they aren’t even being really honest progressives, and you can tell that their stories and framing are more about chasing viewers and clicks than about real news coverage.

Whereas MSNBC, as much as you may dislike them, is honest about their intentions. They are a progressive network pushing a progressive agenda — and they own that. CNN wants to bill itself as a straight news network but fills their schedule and their stories with progressive angles. Viewers can tell, and they go elsewhere. Until CNN figures itself out, it will continue to bleed viewers and never recover.