A disagreement broke out this week between two of cable news’ leading ladies. In an interview on Julie Menins web-based talk show “Give and Take,” Campbell Brown stated that her network, CNN, “is the only one whos still doing journalism.” Her show, referred to as “No Bias, No Bull,” claims to offer impartial news reporting. Shortly thereafter, Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren called Brown’s remarks “over the top,” and defended her own show, “On the Record,” on her blog, reminding readers that “On the Record” does journalism the “‘old fashion way’–meaning we hit the road traveling all the time.”
A closer listen to Brown’s remarks reveals a more subtle point about the current climate of primetime cable news. Brown complained to Menin, “You are, in all likelihood, going to get a bigger rating when you do opinion rather than straight news because you have a bigger audience. There are a lot of people who want to be in an echo chamber and want their views validated.”
Whether Van Susteran and her Fox cohorts are doing any “straight news” or not, they are certainly getting the best ratings. In the second quarter, Fox News not only beat out MSNBC and CNN for cable news supremacy but was also the #3 most watched cable network in primetime, behind only USA and TNT, networks known for their entertainment and drama programming (CNN was #23 and MSNBC came in at #25). “On the Record” was the fourth highest rated cable news program during 2Q.
As Politico pointed out earlier this year, “Browns show has been billed as the antidote to Foxs ‘The OReilly Factor’…and Olbermann. But her show’s lack of traction begs the question of whether there’s a way to bring in ratings without the ideologically slanted hosts that have pulled in partisan viewers on the left and right.”