CNN is a troubled network in flux, a network that wants to do better; and while it is always fun to point and laugh at a Titanic full of too many unethical people go down, it would be better for America if CNN got its act together. And let us not forget that CNN has recently made some positive moves: hiring the great Jake Tapper and the potentially great Chris Cuomo -- and firing Soledad O'Brien, Roland Martin and Jack Cafferty.
So with hope alive in my heart, I am here to help; and here is the reasoning behind this unsolicited advice -- starting with why CNN can't be MSNBC.
MSNBC is no longer a news outlet, it is a confirmation-bias outlet for smug leftists. This Pew report proves that. Like it or not, enough awful people exist to give MSNBC passable ratings because after a hard day of sucking off the taxpayer teat as a lazy bureaucrat or terrible school teacher, they need constant reassurance that everything they believe is 100% correct. And that's what MSNBC does -- hires people who look smart (why do you think they all wear the same glasses?), and night after night those smart-looking people reassure the smug they have a right to be smug.
That's a corner MSNBC has locked up. CNN can't compete there.
Not that they would want to, but CNN also can't compete with the Fox News Channel (FNC) for the Tea Party crowd. Those of us who love us some Sean and Bill and Greta and Bret are not going anywhere.
But FNC is not MSNBC for the right. This Pew report also proves that and explains why FNC regularly crushes MSNBC. Unlike MSNBC, FNC does a ton of original reporting, and because of that, more Democrats watch FNC than watch MSNBC.
Are you listening, CNN -- because this is the rub à More Democrats watch FNC than MSNBC.
Why would so many Democrats tune to FNC?
Not every Democrat is a rabid partisan. Some vote Democrat but are still interested in good television and what is going on in the world. The rest of the media (and this includes CNN) are Narrative Slaves who endlessly repeat the same few stories in the exact same way. FNC doesn't do that. If you want variety and/or to learn what else is happening outside the media's provincial bubble, you watch FNC.
With this in mind, here are the two things CNN is currently doing horribly, terribly wrong:
1. CNN is a proud part of the media's Narrative Plantation. They cover all the same stories the rest of the media covers, and in exact the same way. Politics aside, this is tedious and boring.
2. When CNN tries to make a unique story its own, it is a lame story that damages the brand like the Jodi Arias trial or the Carnival Cruise mishap.
What CNN needs to do is what attracts such a large and diverse crowd to FNC: own serious and interesting stories no one else covers.
CNN needs to own stories in the same way FNC owns stories like Libya, the War on Christmas, the rise of the Tea Party, and opposition to Barack Obama.
I do wish the five stories I'm about to suggest didn't come off as partisan. But the mainstream media has all the good stories that fit the left's Narrative covered. All that remains, then, are stories that push back against those. But these are, in my opinion, legitimate news stories that a legitimate media that was not a group-think collective would eagerly dig into.
These are also potentially fascinating stories with serious legs and plenty of room for human interest (and even a little sensationalism).
1. The Abortion Doctor on Trial for Murder in Philadelphia
The Jodi Arias trial is nothing but cheap sensationalism. A seedy sex murder has zero social value and therefore no place to go to tell larger stories about society. But that's not true for all trials.
The horrors Dr. Kermit Gosnell is accused of committing makes for a legitimate and compelling story. The dark side of abortion is one of the great untold stories in America, and covering the Gosnell trial offers unlimited opportunities to talk about society at large.
According to the District Attorney, Gosnell murdered seven born-alive human beings and became a millionaire performing late-term abortions in a squalid clinic. Where was the government oversight? Was he exploiting the poor? Are there other clinics like this out there? Interview his patients, chase down his staff, demand that those charged with regulating these clinics answer for the lack of oversight.
Granted, many in the mainstream media will take CNN off the Christmas card list for daring to question the left-wing sacrament of abortion. But what good are the good opinions of the corrupt when your network and brand are circling the drain?
Stop being Narrative Slaves and start being reporters again.
2. ObamaCare Fallout
I've already laid out the spider-web of stories left untold here, but what a bonanza this could be. The working class vs. the powerful -- and not just the federal government. You also have big business behaving badly. Hell, even the Catholic Church got into bed on this one (and then got stabbed in the back).
Human interest. David and Goliath. Church vs. State. The only thing stopping CNN from owning this extraordinary story is their own personal biases and fear of a backlash from the likes of Chuck Todd and Ben Smith.
3. Libya Survivors
Somewhere, six-months later, there are over thirty survivors who have not told the story of the September 11 anniversary attack on our consulate in Benghazi.
Very rarely does media corruption surprise me anymore, but that there still is no mainstream news outlet owning this story by putting relentless pressure on the White House for access to these people, actually does surprise me.
And who knows, the testimony of the thirty might back the up White House narrative of what happened that night. So here's a chance for CNN to make us wingers look stupid.
Regardless, this is a helluva story -- a detective story, a political story, and eventually thirty-or-so personal stories about a night of hell, heroism, and sacrifice.
The media's lack of interest in this one really closes the case on how corrupted they've become.
4. The War on Fat People
Just a few years ago, the Narrative Plantation Overseers demanded the Narrative Slaves get behind the anti-skinny movement. The push was all about loving and embracing who you are, and how plus-size girls were confident and beautiful.
What a difference a potential new revenue stream from a "caloric tax" makes.
Most Americans are overweight, and now they're under fire as a "problem." The Narrative now is all about how they’re "addicted" to calories and driving up health care costs -- all for the sin of wanting to live their lives in their own way.
And let's not forget that it is mostly the poor and working class who are overweight and under fire from wealthy, predominantly white elites like Mike Brzezinski.
There is another side to Big Soda Narrative, and it's about individual liberty, individual choice, and what it must feel like to be bullied by rich, autocratic, bubble-headed mean girls on TV.
5. Sequester and Government Waste
Yesterday, CNN relentlessly covered the closing of some 140 control towers due to sequester -- you know, just like everyone else in the media did.
Forget about how infuriating this coordinated bias to protect The State is -- the story is eye-rollingly dumb.
I'm going to tell you why the media isn’t able to convince America to storm John Boehner's office over sequester: common sense.
Obama and his media want us to believe that cutting a measly 2% from a federal budget currently running annual trillion dollar deficits means the end of something as necessary as airport control towers. Everyone hearing this (even leftists who love it) knows it is total and complete bulls**t.
Instead of insulting our intelligence, CNN, own the real story. Where's the waste that could be cut to keep the control towers open? What unnecessary nonsense is the government funding that could pay to ensure planes land safely? Who in government is refusing to shift around resources in a responsible way? Grill some legislators over why they are not shifting money away from nonsense like cowboy poetry and towards control towers.
To tell the story of control towers without mentioning duck penises is journalistic malpractice in the extreme.
The bloated federal government is the bad guy here, not the taxpayers. And sequester and the closing of control towers (and whatever else is coming) is the most shameless and stupid hustle Obama has ever tried to put over.
Bust this scheme wide open.
Bonus #6: Hire Sharyl Attkisson
CBS News investigate reporter Sharyl Attkisson is a legitimate talent who deserves to be the next Mike Wallace. She not only has the guts to dig into the stories I've listed above, but also future stories that will make the right every bit as uncomfortable as those stories will make the left.
Attkisson is attractive, smart, driven, bold, and has the same kind of credibility Jake Tapper does with both left and right.
If you give her Piers Morgan's spot, prepare to be amazed at who tunes in.
So there you go, CNN. Five terrific, fascinating, serious, untold stories you could own and that would deliver viewers -- if only because you would be offering something different.
Yeah, it would take some moral courage to stand up to the Narrative Overseers. But you can do what I'm suggesting and still stay on the Narrative Plantation 85% of the time.
No one is asking you or wants you to become Fox News 2.
...And now, if you crash and burn, you can't say nobody told you.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC