Piers Morgan got a slap on his own show from no less than Bill Clinton, who delivered a not so subtle dig on CNN’s ratings decline.
During a full-hour appearance on September 25, when the discussion steered toward political coverage by the media, Clinton told Morgan that he worries over CNN’s dismal ratings. He said he “used to worry that CNN was going to lose too many viewers.”
Morgan quickly interrupted to assure the former president that CNN was doing fine, or “storming ahead,” as Morgan claimed.
But Clinton was not so sure. He noted that MSNBC “has grown.”
Regardless, Clinton said, the media is only “serving to polarize the country”
Clinton is right about the ratings, though. In 2012, MSNBC’s ratings surged, often supplanting CNN in second place behind Fox News. And since then, CNN and MSNBC have been neck and neck, often only separated by a few percentage points in the overall ratings and ratings in important demographic categories.
For instance, on September 23, in the important 25 to 54 age demographic, MSNBC topped CNN for total day ratings. Of course, Fox News was far and away the leader in all categories.
Even as CNN’s ratings have improved since Jeff Zucker took over as the network’s chief, the one-time news powerhouse has a long way to go before it returns to its once-dominant position in the ratings.
Transcript of relevant segment:
Bill Clinton: I used to worry that CNN was going to lose too many viewers because …
Piers Morgan: No fear of that , Mr. President, we are …
Clinton: No, no, let me — let me …
Morgan: … storming ahead.
Clinton: Obviously, yeah, you’re doing better, but you’re more entertaining now which is good. But, but, but you became more entertaining without becoming more extreme which is important. I mean, because people are wired when they see all this conflict to get in to the fray so that, and you know what it takes, you got to have 800,000 viewers in a cable show to break even, and if you get more than that your profits go up.
So, the good news about the media today is that we have more sources of information than ever before; the bad news is we are all of us prone only to go to the places we agree with. So, MSNBC has grown because they have …
Morgan: Don’t mention that, I’m sorry it’s a …
Clinton:…and Fox News had this big base and they know it’s very carefully done psychologically and substantively. And we just, everything is serving to polarize the country.