This blurb from the Drudge Report speaks volumes about the current state of mainstream (read: liberal) cable news:
"MSNBC, CNN Beaten by Cartoon Network in Ratings Game."
And, the linked item from TV Newser provides the bloody details. In the primetime ratings last week, MSNBC was #26 among the various cable channels, while CNN was in 32nd place and Headline News finished in 37th. Where was Fox News Channel? In second place overall, only 232,000 viewers behind USA, which is typically the highest-rated cable outlet.
That's nothing short of phenomenal. After all, FNC is a news outlet, while USA is an entertainment channel. Conventional wisdom says news and information aren't supposed to finish at the top of the cable ratings, no matter how they report the news. But then again, Fox has been demolishing the status quo--and its rivals--for almost a decade.
Here are a couple of sports analogies that illustrate Fox's dominance in cable news. Their current lead over MSNBC and CNN (combined) is the equivalent of a college basketball team blowing through the NCAA tournament and winning every game by at least 40 points. Or, if you prefer NASCAR, FNC is running three or four laps ahead of the competition.
Still, there might be a bit of inspiration in the latest ratings results for MSNBC and CNN. Perhaps they should take a cue from Cartoon Network and animate their line-up. And, while they're at it, the news channel also-rans could change the focus of their websites from information to on-line video games (works pretty well for Cartoon Network).
Indeed, some of the current hosts on CNN and MSNBC are a natural fit for animation and spin-off video games. MSNBC, for example, could offer an Ed Schultz arcade where players feed him liberal talking points until he explodes. Meanwhile, CNN might install a "Negative IQ" game featuring "Situation Room" anchor Wolf Blitzer. Inspired by Wolf's embarrassing performance on "Celebrity Jeopardy," players would ask the animated host general knowledge questions, which he can't answer. As cartoon Wolf misses more questions, his IQ drops a few more points. Lowest score wins--or gets you an early evening slot on CNN.
Being ranked #26 or #32 in the cable wars is nothing to be proud of. That's why we're convinced that animation may be the only gimmick that can save MSNBC and CNN. With their slavish endorsement of Barack Obama (and his agenda), it's clear that the folks at both networks live in an reality-starved universe not unlike Bikini Bottom or Endsville. In that world, it's not much of a jump from Captain K'nuckles to Keith Olbermann.