On Monday, the news network put out a glowing, self-congratulatory press release pointing out its terrific success in the ratings for its coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings.
Now there is nothing wrong for the embattled network to toot its horn -- under normal circumstances. Trouble is, not this time. CNN made a glaring error when it reported last Wednesday that police had arrested a suspect. But it was untrue.
This was a bad mistake. Some errors are, of course, minor and we all make them in the media. The stock price went up -- not down. The misspelling of someone's name. A typo here and there.
This was significant because the nation's interest in the story ran so high. Plus, we don't expect CNN to whiff on a big story. CNN prides itself on being the nation's cable-news-channel destination when we encounter a story of huge consequence.
For the record, then, CNN crowed that it had come in #1 in cable news on Friday in the key 18-34 and 25-54 age demos.
According to Nielsen, CNN on Friday was the leading cable news outlet averaging 2.47 million viewers in primetime and 1.34 million in total day in the key adult demo of 25-54.
You'd hope that CNN could contain its euphoria, since these viewer numbers might have been influenced by its less-than-stellar coverage. Plus, these data merely confirm what CNN has always been all about: excelling during a time of a calamity.
When CNN brags about posting huge ratings numbers on a mundane MOnday or a tepid Tuesday, I'll be really impressed.
New CNN chief Jeff Zucker may take these results as a sign that his changes in on-air journalists and news presentation -- with an accent on a more relaxed, sort of entertainment posture -- are working well. Zucker is a natural showman. He loves bringing pizzazz to the news, and, God knows, CNN needed a dose of pizzazz before he took over.
But now CNN has the embarrassment of answering for a glaring error on the air. What does CNN care, though, about a momentary lapse? Can't you hear them shouting, at leastfor the moment, We're No. 1!
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