17 Jun 2016 CNN’s Increased Ideological Diversity Applauded
After Years of Criticism from the National Center for Public Policy Research, CNN Chief Admits Network was “Too Liberal”
CNN Parent Company Time Warner Seeing Financial Benefits of More Conservative Voices on its Network
Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes Gives Thoughtful Answer to National Center’s Justin Danhof
Burbank, CA / Washington, D.C. – After years of repeatedly criticizing CNN’s parent company for the network’s liberal bias, the National Center for Public Policy Research flipped the switch at today’s annual meeting of Time Warner investors in Burbank, California, and applauded CNN’s recent efforts to add more conservative commentators to its programming which has resulted in a ratings bonanza for the cable news company.
“CNN deserves credit for admitting its liberal bias and doing something to correct the problem,” said National Center Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof, Esq. “While much of the liberal media, including the New York Times, MSNBC, ABC, ESPN, CBS, and the Washington Post all continue to deny their bias or the negative results thereof, CNN has made a deliberate effort to increase conservative voices in its airways, and that decision has paid dividends.”
At the meeting, Danhof referenced a recent Wall Street Journal article that chronicled CNN’s ideological mix up. Danhof stated, in part:
Last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that CNN has enjoyed a ratings boom. The Journal noted that, “[a]fter years of weak ratings, the network is nipping at the heels of Fox News, the longtime ratings leader in cable news, whose prime-time audience has grown 42% to 450,000 viewers, and is roughly doubling the audience of MSNBC.”
CNN President Jeff Zucker attributed this ratings increase, in part, to a better balance of ideology on the network. Zucker said, “I think it was a legitimate criticism of CNN that it was a little too liberal. We have added many more middle-of-the-road conservative voices to an already strong stable of liberal voices. And I think that we are a much more-balanced network and, as a result, a much more inviting network to a segment of the audience that might not have otherwise been willing to come here.”
I am here to tell you that I now regularly watch CNN. For years, myself and many other conservatives wanted nothing to do with the network because it was quite clear that the news and opinion hosts abhorred our views on traditional values and free market principles. The change at CNN is tangible and I am not surprised that ratings are up.
“Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes gave a very thoughtful answer to my comment and question,” said Danhof. “He said that it is important to have reporters and media talent with diverse backgrounds and ideological opinions and that such a cross-section of news personnel needs to extend beyond political stories since bias is pervasive and policy is about much more than elections. He lamented the current habit of many Americans to seek out websites and shows that conform with their preconceived beliefs. He said this was no way for someone to learn – a clear implication that he views CNN’s role as informational. He said CNN would continue to evolve, and that evolution should involve more international coverage as it becomes clear that events overseas have great impact on the lives of everyday Americans. Shareholders should be encouraged that the CNN has ditched its old model of catering to only liberal viewers.”
“The equation isn’t complex. In poll after poll, most Americans identify as conservative or independent, with the smallest number self-identifying as liberal. This year’s annual Gallup poll on political ideology found 37% of Americans identify as conservative, 35% as moderate and only 24% as liberal. For years, CNN was mired in competition with the vast majority of the mainstream media that tilts to the left and fights for viewers from the smallest segment of American society,” added Danhof. “CNN finally figured out what we have been telling them for years – conservatives and independents don’t want to watch the same liberal views being repeated hour after hour.”
“We certainly can’t take all of the credit for CNN’s decision to balance out its programming, but I am proud to say that we were the one shareholder that year after year criticized Time Warner’s top executives regarding CNN’s liberal bias and urged change,” said Danhof. “At a time when the top cable news network has so many hosts actively rooting for one presidential candidate and the third-ranked cable news network is so clearly rooting for the other candidate, CNN has done well to stake out a middle ground.”
Today’s meeting marks the fourth time in five years that the National Center has been represented at Time Warner’s shareholder meeting.
In 2012, Oscar Murdock attended the Time Warner meeting on behalf of the National Center and excoriated the company for remarks made by actor Morgan Freeman that disparaged conservatives and the Tea Party movement. Murdock pointed out that Freeman’s remarks may have harmed the box office numbers of the Warner Brothers Studios film, “Dolphin Tale.” After that meeting, Morgan again disparaged conservatives in an interview with Tavis Smiley, but he made clear that he was speaking for himself, not the studio.
In 2013, Danhof attended the Time Warner meeting and presented Bewkes with a real-world example of liberal bias. Highlighting the liberal media’s collective disdain for the 2nd Amendment, Danhof explained that between 1993 and 2011, gun killings fell 39 percent and non-lethal gun crime dropped 69 percent in America. Despite this downward trajectory, a majority of the American people thought that gun crimes were rising. In the face of this stark example, Bewkes vowed that CNN would “strive to do better” in presenting the news in a balanced and accurate manner.
In 2014, Danhof followed up on his 2013 exchange with Bewkes and, not sensing that CNN was actually striving for fairness, blasted CNN’s pathetic coverage of Benghazi, Candy Crowley’s pretentious and erroneous judging within the 2012 presidential debates, climate change, a miniseries promoting Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the appointment of David Chalian to political director – a man who once claimed the GOP is ‘happy to have a party with black people drowning.’
Danhof’s 2014 calls for objectivity were well-received. Following the meeting, he observed that: “Despite being in the heart of liberal elite Hollywood – on the Warner Brothers lot – the audience loudly applauded my calls for CNN to take steps to curb its liberal bias and produce news stories devoid of only liberal narratives. And after the meeting, I was further encouraged as many shareholders came up to thank me personally for my comments and express disgust with CNN’s current content. In fact, at one point a line formed as shareholders wanted to express their thanks for the courage we showed in speaking out on this very important issue.”
The National Center’s Free Enterprise Project is the nation’s preeminent free-market activist group focusing on shareholder activism and the confluence of big government and big business. In 2014-15, National Center representatives participated in 69 shareholder meetings advancing free-market ideals in the areas of health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers’ rights and many other important public policy issues. Today’s Time Warner meeting marks its 17th shareholder meeting of 2016.
The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations, and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors. Sign up for free issue alerts here or follow us on Twitter at @NationalCenter.