CNN Worldwide president Jim Walton announced Friday he would be leaving at the end of the year, which came as no surprise since CNN's ratings fell 35 percent in the second quarter. What's surprising is that media reporters would pretend CNN can be "branded" as non-ideological, that it doesn't have that liberal-establishment media bias like ABC, CBS, and NBC.
NPR's David Folkenflik asserted in a brief report: "The cable landscape is dominated by opinion shows, but CNN's brand is based on the idea of news unadulterated by ideology at a time when viewers are rewarding the conservative-leaning shows on Fox News and the liberal tilting programs on MSNBC." AP's David Bauder let the CNN folks employ that spin:
CNN's ratings traditionally fluctuate based on the intensity of the news. Fox and MSNBC have insulated themselves from that problem somewhat through its partisan prime-time hosts. Walton has resisted this approach, believing CNN's strength lies in being a nonpartisan news source and the company's reputation would be damaged worldwide if the U.S. network changed...
At CNN, [Walton said] "we want to be accurate above all else, we want to be timely first if possible we want to actually go to where the news is, not just subscribe to some agency's news feed and talk about it. We want to report the news from multiple sides, all sides, and without bias."
There's nothing wrong with that approach -- if CNN was actually applying it. CNN hasn't had success with opinionated programming (Parker Spitzer) or with straight-news anchors (John King USA). The notion that Wolf Blitzer loses in the ratings to Al Sharpton is just beyond discouraging.