The perpetual battle for last place in the cable “news” channels took an interesting turn on Thursday, when the Cable News Network took out a full-page advertisement in the New York Times claiming that while MSNBC's Morning Joe program was “leaning forward” -- a reference to that channel's motto -- CNN's New Day show was “moving ahead!”
“SORRY, JOE,” the title glared before the text below bragged: “In January, CNN's New Day beat MSNBC's Morning Joe for the 4th month in a row in total viewers and the 7th month in a row” among adults in the critical demographic of viewers from 25 to 54 years of age.
That led the ad to proclaim that the morning programming for the Cable News Network had leaped to its “highest ratings ever!”
In fact, the ad went so far as to claim that even Morning Express on the Cable News Network's sister channel -- HLN -- which was formerly known as the Headline News Network -- beat its MSNBC competition “for the 9th month in a row” among adults in that important viewership.
Also, that jump gave the channel its “highest rating since July 2013 among total viewers!”
“Wake up to the news,” the ad concluded. “CNN and HLN have moved ahead!”
“What makes this ad particularly incisive,” Andrew Kirell of the Mediaite website stated, “is that when New Day began to outpace Morning Joe last spring, the latter’s host -- Joe Scarborough – chalked it up to coverage” of the disappearance of Malaysian Air Flight MH-370.
“Several months later,” Kirell noted, Scarborough “once again dismissed the CNN victories, telling Variety that “CNN does very well when the world is blowing up.”
“When staffers ask him about ratings, he says: 'I just tell everybody to keep doing the show you’re doing. When locusts stop descending from the heavens, we will start beating them again.'”
“But as you may recall,” Kirell noted, “New Day has only been on-air for 19 months, making the five-year comparison a bit tricky.”
Meanwhile, CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter posted the advertisement on his Twitter page under the title “Hot cable news-on-cable news action this morning.”
It didn't take long for Scarborough to hit back at Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide.
Sorry, Jeff. More people have watched Morning Joe than CNN for 5 years in a row. Headline News? It's not even close. Good luck in year 6.
Cute ad but CNN is firing people. Morning Joe is hiring. Oh yeah. And more people have watched Morning Joe than CNN & HLN 5 years in a row.
John Nolte, editor-at-large of the Breitbart website, joined the fray by stating:
There is just no question that CNN chief Jeff Zucker’s game plan was to eke his failing network into second-to-last place by siphoning off MSNBC viewers by taking CNN far to the left of MSNBC. CNN is a laughingstock now, but it can at least brag about being in second-to-last place.
“CNN’s New Day is as left-wing as any MSNBC show,” he added. “Leftists can watch New Day and have all their biases confirmed. Chris Cuomo isn’t the most appealing guy on television, but Joe Scarborough is one of the least appealing.”
As NewsBusters previously reported, this isn't the first time CNN and MSNBC have clashed over their programs' ratings.
In July of 2013, the ratings from April through June of that year brought good news for the Cable News Network and HLN, but that period saw MSNBC deliver its worst quarterly prime-time showing among total viewers and adults from 25 to 54 years of age since 2007.
During that period, CNN reclaimed the runner-up slot from MSNBC for the first time since 2010.
A few months later, the Fox News Channel ended the year with higher ratings than MSNBC, CNN and HLN combined.
However, MSNBC celebrated Morning Joe's “winning streak” over its weak CNN competition last October, while the Cable News Channel ended 2014 with all-time low ratings even though MSNBC fell to third place in the cable news race.
The only good news CNN received at the end of the previous 12 months was the fact that its original programs -- ranging from Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown to The Hunt With John Walsh -- were drawing younger viewers than its other shows.
Meanwhile, the Fox News Channel has been the top-rated cable news network for 13 consecutive years, and its Fox & Friends morning program consistently averages more viewers than the rival MSNBC and CNN shows combined. Nevertheless, who knows what the rest of this year will bring?