Tuesday, February 14, 2006

NYT Says Domestic CNN Shows Glimmers Of Success Vs. Fox

A lengthy New York Times article by Jacques Steinberg Monday, Feb. 13, finds some glimmers of competitive success for domestic CNN versus Fox News in the vital 25-54 age group, though Fox retains a big edge overall.

The issues raised could also provide grist for Matea Gold, the able media writer in New York for the L.A. Times, since it's obvious that the American political situation is influenced in the competition between the two cable channels, with Fox continuing to be a mouthpiece for Bush Administration views, and CNN much friendlier to the Democrats.

Steinberg's argument at times seems a little tortured. He acknowledges that the ratings contest between the two news outlets remains lopsided, with Fox last year drawing on the average during prime time 2.05 million viewers, compared to only 936,000 for CNN.

Recently, writing from India, I gave CNN International horrible marks for its coverage of the Hamas victory and other topics. It seems that CNN attention to its international outlet has languished. Fox is much less a factor in the ratings overseas since few foreign media buyers are interested in such a onesided presentation of the news.

But domestic CNN, under the leadership of Jonathan Klein, head of CNN domestic operations, seems to be chopping a bit into Fox here at home, especially with Anderson Cooper, the replacement for Aaron Brown, in nightly news, and with Paula Zahn a bit earlier in the evening. Cooper is picking up more of Larry King's audience and Zahn has cut a bit into Bill O'Reilly's lead, especially among the younger viewers.

This comes at a time when the Bush Administration has fallen into many difficulties emanating from both the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and developments in the Middle East, where we seem to be going from turbulence to turbulence with, especially, little or no difference occurring in the Iraq war.

Steinberg seems to see CNN faring quite well in breaking news, pushing hard on the big stories.

Fox continues to be very favorable to the Administration, but the regular news networks, NBC, ABC and CBS, are much more balanced. All in all, with the midterm elections approaching, it begins to look as the Democrats may get a fair shake in some coverage.

With some stories, such as the UN report critical of U.S. interrogation policies at Guantanamo Bay, there is natural sympathy domestically for the Administration. The UN does to the U.S. as it does to the Israelis. It is overwhelmingly against everything we are trying to do, and Fox gains an edge in covering such stories.

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