Posted on | July 27, 2012 | 22 Comments
CNN chief Jim Walton said Friday he is quitting, saying the company needs new leadership at a time its flagship U.S. network is suffering through some of its poorest ratings ever.
Walton built the company into a profitable international news organization in his 10 years as president of CNN Worldwide, and said it is on track for record profits this year. But the U.S. network is the most visible part of the business and is now entrenched in third place behind rivals Fox News Channel and MSNBC in prime time
Let’s see if we can’t locate your problem, OK, Jim?
Your idea of a morning anchor is Soledad O’Brien, and Nielsen ratings indicate she’s slightly more popular than syphilis.
Your primetime anchor is so obviously gay that when he finally “came out,” no one cared. He’s the Liberace of network anchors. NTTAWWT, except that Anderson Cooper’s getting out-gayed (not to mention out-machoed) by Rachel Maddow.
Seriously: Maddow’s Nielsen ratings at 9 p.m. ET on MSNBC (997,000 viewers, 294,000 in the key 25-54 demographic) are better than Cooper’s CNN ratings at 8 p.m. (507K/147K).
In general, Jim — with the exception of hiring Erin Burnett — your eye for on-air talent hasn’t been impressive. There has been a horrible inertia problem at CNN, which has accumulated a bunch of unexciting dead-weight personalities that nobody else wants to hire. I mean, the last time you negotiated Wolf Blitzer’s contract, did you ever get any indication that you were bidding against some other network for his services? If CNN cut Wolf loose next week, is it possible that he might land at NBC or Fox or even Current TV?
In consideration of the facts, Jim, I was rather amused by the self-congratulatory tone of your farewell note:
I am proud of what we have accomplished together over these last 10 years – innovative programming, the development of great talent in front of and behind the cameras, expansion in digital and mobile, significant investment and expansion in international coverage, financial success and, most importantly, great and trusted journalism. Thank you for the role you have played in our successes.
“Our successes”! If CNN can continue your 10-year record of “successes,” they’ll be lucky to beat Home Shopping Network in the Nielsens.