CNN appears to be imploding. The self-induced implosion — brought on by creating fake news, being shown on hidden camera admitting that it’s fake news, and threatening to reveal the identity of a redditor who made a video meme showing President Trump punching CNN in the face — has taken a toll on ratings and may soon take a toll on advertising revenues.
While reeling from a series of Project Veritas videos showing CNN producers and commentators admitting that CNN’s reports on alleged connections and collusion between Trump and Russia are “bulls**t,” the whole Russia thing “is just a big nothingburger,” and that CNN practices selective editing to promote a false narrative to American voters who are “stupid as s**t,” the liberal news network made a decision that shows a real disconnect from reality.
On Sunday, President Trump shared the video meme. It was an edited version of a clip from WrestleMania 23 in 2007 when Trump fought WWE CEO Vince McMahon during a "Battle of the Billionaires" match. In that match, Trump slammed McMahon to the floor and punched him in the face. A user on the social news aggregation site Reddit edited the video by superimposing the CNN logo over McMahon’s face so the clip showed Trump “taking down fake news.” When Trump shared the meme — which the White House says the president did not get from Reddit — on Twitter, it went viral.
Rather than ignore the (probably) tasteless and (certainly) harmless meme, CNN — flailing about in what is beginning to look more and more like the throes of death — responded by hunting down the redditor, who had posted anonymously, and threatening to reveal his identity unless he apologized and promised never to post similar things in the future. In this, the CNN employees involved likely committed the federal crime of Conspiracy Against Rights.
And whether anyone at CNN will ever be criminally charged for the crime of using intimidation to relieve that redditor (who some believe is a 15-year-old boy) of his God-given and constitutionally protected right of free speech, the network may have to be prepared to take a hit in the revenue department. Because there is a trending movement to boycott CNN’s advertisers.
In the wake of CNN’s exposure as a purveyor of fake news, the #CNNFakeNews hashtag began trending on social media. As a result of that exposure — spread with the help of the hashtag — CNN’s ratings took a bath. In the one month between May and June, CNN lost roughly 20 percent of its viewers, both during the day and during the prime-time slot.
After CNN threatened to expose the redditor and then bragged about it in an article, #CNNBlackmail began trending on Twitter. The hashtag has been used to tag lists of CNN advertisers with many, many users promising to boycott those advertisers until they pull their advertising dollars from CNN. Many users have tagged some of those advertisers by name in social media posts promising to take their money to competitors as long as those advertisers continue to support CNN.
CNN — like all media — survives on the revenue brought in by advertising. The value of advertising is driven by hopes of a return in the form of sales. Ratings play a major part in that. CNN’s ratings have already dropped to the point that in the week of June 26, CNN plummeted to 13th place in cable TV ratings — with 40-year-old reruns of Yogi Bear on Nick-At-Nite drawing more viewers than CNN’s prime-time evening shows, hosted by Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon, that air in the same time slots.
With ratings taking that type of dive and advertisers who would already be likely to seek higher-rated programming beginning to feel the pressure to pull their advertising to avoid guilt-by-association, CNN may have passed the point of no return.
Of course, given the lack of anything resembling journalistic integrity or accurate reporting, CNN’s pending demise will not likely cause anyone (except the possibly soon-to-be-unemployed folks at CNN and the liberal establishment politicians who benefit from their pseudo-reporting) to feel anything like remorse.