It appears former CNN anchor Aaron Brown is still licking his wounds. Speaking to a group in Medford, Oregon, on Wednesday, Brown suggested that the decline in television news is due to the choices being made by viewers, and that network executives are now basing their content decisions on what they believe the public wants to see versus what is really important.
As reported by the Medford Mail Tribune: “‘The news in this country is a business,’ he added. ‘You might not like to think of it that way, but it is."
First, Brown blamed TV executives:
“He admitted that cable news reporters and editors have failed viewers by not telling stories that are important, that truly matter.
“‘Cable indulges too often in what amounts to mud wrestling — just two people shouting at each other,’ he said.”
Then, Brown blamed the public:
“However, he didn’t let the casual TV viewer off easily. Because the news is a business, he argued, it is only giving consumers what they want.”
“‘In the perfect democracy that I believe TV news is, it’s not enough to say you want serious news, you have to watch it,’ he said.
“He likened a typical TV night for Americans as a political act where consumers vote with their remote controls.”
Brown used an example from 2004 to make his case:
“According to Brown, CNN spent a fortune covering the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. After two weeks, he said, ratings fell to normal levels. The Fox news channel channeled their dollars into a story about American teenager Natalee Holloway disappearing in Aruba. Fox, of course, cleaned up in ratings and revenue.”
Of course, Brown didn’t mention that most Fox News programs are more highly rated than their CNN rivals, or the possibility that the reason Fox News “cleaned up” in his example is that CNN has been losing viewers for years.
Regardless, Brown had a solution:
“Brown offered one remedy for fixing the news. He argued that during any given day there are only between 6 and 10 stories worth reporting.
“‘We should focus on reporting these really important stories well instead of constant breaking news,’ he said.”
Certainly, nobody in America would disagree with Brown’s desire for CNN to focus on reporting important stories well, especially devotees of the MRC and this website.
As one would imagine, Brown took the opportunity to offer an explanation for his own failure at CNN: “He suggested his eventual demise at CNN resulted from criticizing the network’s obsession with lurid celebrity gossip while short-changing meaningful news.”
Brown also made an interesting analogy concerning the TV networks’ fascination with such trivialities: “He compared such ‘breaking news’ to heroin — it’s good for a while, but will eventually make you feel used and dirty.”
There is some delicious irony in this observation by Brown, for I normally feel used and dirty after watching CNN, especially when he was the host.(The Drudge Report deserves a hat tip for this report, as does the CBSNews Blog for providing a link to the Mail Tribune article.)