Does CNN Need To “Make It Sexy?”

Reports Bill Carter of the New York Times:

In March, CNN averaged 328,000 viewers in prime time among the audience that most news advertisers seek: viewers aged 25 to 54. Fox doubled that with 628,000. MSNBC averaged 375,000.

In April, CNN has been fourth. Fox has 668,000 viewers; MSNBC has 300,000; and CNN has 271,000. HLN has 277,000.

And so, per Carter’s headline: “With Rivals Ahead, Doubts for CNN’s Middle Road.” “Middle road” meaning CNN has no prime time Olbermann or Hannity; “doubts” supplied by the Times’s Carter, MSNBC president Phil Griffin and “one veteran CNN correspondent…who requested anonymity in order to speak freely about CNN’s strategy.”

Said the unnamed CNN anchor:

All of a sudden it seems a little unfashionable to be in the middle. I think people are struggling with that…lt’s not sexy to be in the middle. [CNN’s president Jon ] Klein’s got to make it sexy.

(First, which of CNN’s “veteran correspondents” does this sound like? Would Blitzer say this? Amanpour? Second, remember back in 2002 when CNN tried to”make it sexy” — or, “just a little sexy?”)

No such “doubts” from Klein.

CNN will stick to its news-oriented knitting, Mr. Klein said; no changes are planned in CNN’s prime-time lineup. “I think there’s more than ever a need for a source of reliable, unbiased news,” Mr. Klein said.”

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.