It is with great sadness that Liberty Nation must report to its readers and viewers that they will never know what the plus symbol in CNN+ signified. Some would point out that, regardless of what Common Core math might conclude, zero plus zero equals, well, zero. The cable news network’s streaming service shut down faster than its TV audience has streamed away to other media outlets in recent years – perhaps because there never was a plus. With it, Chris Wallace’s career devalued faster than the US dollar – and perhaps even the Russian ruble. Maybe the plus, here, is that the absence of CNN online means more bandwidth for cat videos.
Chris Licht, the new CEO of CNN Worldwide, must have something of a sense of humor – which might be a first for the network. In an April 21 statement, Licht said:
“As we become Warner Bros. Discovery, CNN will be strongest as part of WBD’s streaming strategy which envisions news as an important part of a compelling broader offering along with sports, entertainment, and nonfiction content. We have therefore made the decision to cease operations of CNN+ and focus our investment on CNN’s core news-gathering operations and in further building CNN Digital.”
Nonfiction content. Well played, Mr. Licht, well played. Good one. The abandoning of the one-month-old service perhaps weighed heaviest of all on its biggest fan, former President Donald Trump, who also released a statement, which said, in part, “Congratulations to CNN+ on their decision to immediately FOLD for a lack of ratings, or viewers in any way, shape, or form.”
One could speculate that CNN itself, as a TV news network, would also have ceased operations by now if it weren’t owned by a huge corporation with vast resources. The cable channel’s best year ever was 2020, probably due to coverage of Mr. Trump’s re-election bid, which was, arguably, the single biggest political event since his initial 2016 run. According to a Yahoo News report, the network averaged less than 550,000 viewers for the week of Jan. 3, 2022. This was down from an average of 2.7 million during the same period in 2021. For the same week this year, Fox News averaged 1,408,000 viewers. Even MSNBC clobbered CNN by averaging 746,000.
It would be neither fair nor professional to observe that there are barely educated teenagers streaming their computer game-playing on TikTok who have been more successful online than CNN, so we will refrain from doing so.
There are people posting videos of themselves using power tools to make a sandwich, teasing orangutans at the zoo, or complaining about their minimum-wage jobs who have more promising internet futures than CNN. We won’t mention those, either. That would be low. Even lower than Brian Stelter’s popularity.
Stream of Unconsciousness
While its cable TV entity lurched ever further leftward, CNN could perhaps have revived its fortunes by reimagining the streaming service as a vehicle for, oh, what’s the word? News. Yes, that’s it. If only CNN+ had been about objective journalism – or even rational opinion – it might have been a contender. Instead, the new venture featured a who’s who of Trump-haters and left-wing elitists: Wallace, Jemele Hill, and legendary news personality and political analyst, Eva Longoria. And so, it was all really just more of the same. CNN actually managed to double down on the kind of rubbish – as the Brits say – that has over the years eroded its once-solid position as the go-to TV news destination.
An old adage advises, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. CNN took that and turned it into, if it’s broke, break it some more. That was the real problem, right there – and the answer to our original puzzle: The plus in CNN meant plus even more CNN. America seems to have enough CNN already, thanks. Maybe too much.