Market Watch: Fox News Ahead Because of Republican President

CNN is so exceptional with its shows and journalists, so there must be some other reason why Fox News is ahead. Thus writes Jon Friedman in his "Media Web" commentary at MarketWatch.com.

Friedman rattles off a whole litany of reasons why CNN is exceptional.

CNN, a unit of Time Warner, has invested a lot of its parent's dough to assemble a first-rate global reporting and production staff. It features such reliable and charismatic on-air stars as Nic Robertson and Christiane Amanpour abroad. Peter Bergen is rapidly becoming the most compelling voice when it comes to analyzing the ongoing worldwide terrorism story.

In the U.S., CNN has a very deep bench, too. John King, its long-time top White House reporter (and now a senior national correspondent), stands out in what I've regarded for many years to be television's finest Washington bureau. Fortune's Andy Serwer, who appears regularly on CNN's breakfast-hour show, is the most analytical business-news commentator around -- and the same goes for the New Yorker writer Jeffrey Toobin, when the topic turns to legal matters. Further, the lively "Reliable Sources," anchored by Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz, is an hour-long look at journalism's weekly hits and (mostly) misses. The show stands out for its consistent excellence even though it faces stiff competition on Sunday mornings.

Perhaps only CNN would have the ambition to present a documentary such as "In the Footsteps of bin Laden." It will air on Wednesday evening at 9 p.m., Eastern.

The question:
So, with all of this firepower -- and powerful Time Warner bankrolling Klein's ambitious strategy -- where the heck did CNN go wrong in losing ground to Fox? And how can it leapfrog over its chief foe?
The answer:
I suspect that Fox will remain No. 1 for as long as George W. Bush calls Crawford, Texas, -- I mean the White House -- his home. That's how strong a base Fox has built among supporters of the president. That's how high the mountain is that CNN must climb.
Democrats have the same question: "Our stances on the issues are so superior, how come we never win?" The loser of last season's Superbowl, NBA Championship, and Stanley Cup, all had the same question.

The opposition media to the president always see an increase in its audience. During Bill Clinton's presidency, The American Spectator saw huge growth with its never-ending broadsides against that administration. But CNN's ratings have shrunk, and it has nothing to do with Bush.

Friedman believes that because Fox News rose to prominence during the Bush administration, this increase can be attributed to the fact that there was a Republican president. But Fox News did not gain access to many television markets until the Bush administration, at which time it could finally dominate CNN.