Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Well I noticed the TV Newser server had crashed today and I figured that maybe something big had happened, that maybe the rumors were true at CNN about them wanting to replace Aaron Brown with Anderson Cooper at 10PM, and that maybe Brown was unhappy about possibly being demoted and possibly quit/was fired.

Turns out he's GONE from the network. They moved Anderson Cooper to a 2-hour block at 10PM with Anderson Cooper 360, and they're replacing Cooper with Wolf Blitzer's The Situation Room at 7PM. All in all it's Cooper moving up in the world in this scenario, and Aaron Brown moving down- and out.

I don't get it. I don't see what getting rid of Aaron Brown accomplishes for CNN. I don't see how moving Anderson Cooper to 10PM will help the ratings. I don't tune in to see news personalities on these cable news channels; I'm not going to tune in to CNN just to see Anderson Cooper do the news! But CNN seems to bank on the notion of people wanting to tune in to CNN in prime time to watch certain news personalities, and they think putting star news reporters in hosting roles will get ratings. They claim they're even getting more ratings these days and that Anderson Cooper's the guy responsible for the increase, so he's now the saviour of the network! But that's because of all the hurricanes this year, so that's why there's been a demand for news coverage. The only reason people watch Anderson Cooper these days is because everyone knows he covers hurricanes! So when Wilma moves in they know to tune into CNN to see Cooper get blown around or tossed in the air like a piece of debris.

The only thing this move at CNN accomplishes is this: when a big hurricane hits Florida or the Gulf Coast again, we now know to tune in at 10PM to CNN to watch Anderson Cooper. But there's no other reason to watch him, as far as I'm concerned. The rest of the time he'll be getting his clock cleaned in the ratings by Greta Van Susteren, formerly of CNN. As soon as another big celebrity trial starts up Greta will run Cooper right out of a job and he'll be back to hosting reality shows on ABC.

I don't think this strategy of banking on "star news anchors" will ever beat Fox News, frankly. I know they're trying to do the "news is the star" strategy again, but it won't ever work in prime time. The rest of the day, sure. It make sense to put Wolf Blitzer on The Situation Room for three hours during the day- his competition is a bunch of news shows on Fox News and MSNBC! But prime time is different.

In prime time, people aren't generally interested in watching Anderson Cooper or Paula Zahn, or even Wolf Blitzer, all these news people! They don't want to see news people, they want personalities like Greta Van Susteren, Sean Hannity, Alan Colmes, and Nancy Grace! They want to see established talkers, not journalists! That's the one thing some of these network people don't understand at CNN or even at the Canadian networks. The consistent problem at CNN for several years is they never seem to want to go out and find real personalities from talk radio or from the fields of law or politics for their prime-time shows. They rely on their news people, and it flops! Now, the latest line of bull is they say people are tired of seeing people yell at each other on TV so they won't do "lively debate" anymore because they want to be different, and they cancelled Crossfire because Jon Stewart trashed the show on TV. So they want to counterprogram and lower the temperature and have this new strategy for covering the news, so they want to put on more dynamic news shows with news people. Fine.

But the bottom line is that whenever CNN or Fox News or MSNBC put on these established talkers, political people and people with big mouths, that wins an audience. Heck, CNN put on Nancy Grace, and she is cleaning up over there on Headline News, the other channel! And she's no newswoman either, she's an ex-prosecutor! Meanwhile the main CNN insists on shows featuring one serious news person after another, whether it's Connie Chung or Paula Zahn or Aaron Brown. Then they end up blaming the news people for the bad ratings, think the solution is to go with a different news "personality", and end up ashcanning these people. It stinks, because it's not really their fault. The producers and the decision makers are to blame for not putting on the right hit shows. They're the ones who probably should be ashcanned, not these anchors!

And the reason Crossfire was cancelled has nothing to do with the format of that show. Crossfire was cancelled because CNN refused to support the show, pure and simple. They banished that show to the afternoons when it should have stayed on in the evenings. Then Jon Stewart trashed the show and that gave CNN their excuse to dump it. But anyway, that's my two cents.

Mark my words, CNN is hyping Anderson Cooper now as their idea of a great news reporter, but you watch, when the ratings stay in the tank at CNN he'll be the next one walking the plank, just like Aaron Brown and the rest of them.

1 comment:

Swapna said...

Thanks for writing about Aaron Brown. I was wondering about him for long time. I don't know why CNN got rid of him. We used to like him. He was a decent reporter. Do you know where is Aaron Brown now a days and what is he doing currently?

I enjoy reading your blogs and please write more about him if you know his latest status. Thanks.