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Chapman’s News & Ideas CNN Plus or Minus

Originally published at RealClearPolitics

The CNN+ ad features former Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, who has a new CNN+ show, walking toward a camera. Wallace utters one sentence, “We have a lot to talk about.”

That’s it. And that is why CNN’s phone-friendly streaming platform is bound to fail.

Who sees that Wallace spot and thinks, I’ve got to watch that? Your grandmother. Maybe.

With its launch Tuesday, CNN+, with its stable of veteran CNN anchors and the addition of Wallace, seems headed in the same direction as CNN, the one-time cable giant that over the years has seen its ratings tank.

As Forbes reported, in February CNN’s viewership had declined by 54% from 2021. Fox News had an average audience of 2.634 million in February. MSNBC came in second with 1.194 million average viewers. CNN had 774,000 average viewers in February.

Part of CNN’s problem is that it can’t stop obsessing about Fox News.

CNN+’s big get is a former Fox News Sunday anchor.

For its launch, the CNN+ homepage plugged a “CNN original” documentary on the rival network’s founder Rupert Murdoch, “The Murdochs: Empire of Influence.”

Note to CNN: You opened the door for Murdoch, who saw a lucrative opening created inside the left-leaning media bubble.

CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter frequently rants about Fox News’ “misinformation” on the 2020 election, even as he glosses over his own network’s trip down the rabbit hole with the bogus Steele dossier and Russiagate story.

It’s that lack of self-awareness that undercuts the network’s credibility.

Stelter recently railed against those who say CNN has become “an all-talk channel” and “all opinions all the time.” Stelter added, “Those people aren’t watching CNN.”

Well, I do watch CNN, as well as Fox News. Both networks offer smart well-reported stories during their news shows. I watch both networks’ riveting dispatches from Ukraine with respect and awe.

CNN used to be better. It used to be fairer. It used to strive for balance, not to be the loudest voice in the echo chamber.

CNN isn’t losing viewers because of its reporting. CNN is losing viewers because of its posturing.

Ahead of his debut on CNN+, Wallace told The New York Times he complained to Fox management about misinformation on the 2020 election dished out by Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson.

I wonder what Wallace will do the next time CNN’s Don Lemon giggles about conservative rubes on air.

Actually, I don’t wonder. Wallace won’t even notice.

They never do.

During an otherwise solid interview on his first “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace” episode, Wallace asked formal Adm. Bill McRaven many questions about former President Donald Trump. McRaven, an expert on leadership, offered he is “not a fan” of Trump. Wallace asked the military leader if he might run for president in 2024 if Trump runs. Fair enough.

But Wallace didn’t ask McRaven about President Joe Biden’s leadership abilities, which earned him a 53.4% disapproval rating in the RealClearPolitics polling average. But hey, Biden’s just the current commander in chief.

It’s OK for a news organization to have a liberal bias — if you acknowledge it and challenge liberal orthodoxy.

Show more interest in Hunter Biden’s laptop. Hire right-leaning reporters and set them free, as Fox had the sense to do. Find left-leaning pundits who are willing to take on the Democratic establishment. Get out of the bubble.

Debra J. Saunders

Fellow, Chapman Center for Citizenship Leadership
A fellow with Discovery Institute’s Chapman Center for Citizen Leadership, Debra J. Saunders worked for more than thirty years covering politics on the ground and in Washington, as well as American culture, the news media, the criminal justice system, and dubious trends in public schools and prestigious universities. Her column is nationally syndicated with Creators Syndicate.