Small tune-in for O'Malley and Perry on CNN's 'Crossfire'

The Baltimore Sun

Not only was the fake CNN debate between Martin O'Malley and Rick Perry a sorry example of what political discourse has come to on the low road of cable news TV these days, it was also a ratings failure.

Wednesday night's edition of CNN's "Crossfire," which featured Stephanie Cutter and Newt Gingrich hosting the two governors, was seen by 329,000 viewers.

By comparison, Al Sharpton's show on MSNBC at the same time drew an audience of 587,000 viewers.

And an interview with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was seen by 1.66 million persons on Fox News at 6:30 Wednesday. That, by the way, was a drop from what Fox normally draws with Bret Baier, who had an audience of 1.86 million viewers from 6 to 6:30.

(The ratings come from Nielsen Media Research via TVNewser.)

In case anyone is wondering, the ratings for "Crossfire" have been consistently weak since its debut. And I am not surprised after seeing the hosts. (In addition to Gingrich and Cutter, they include S.E. Cupp and Van Jones.)

I would love to see the focus group research on Cutter and Gingrich, two of the most compromised political operatives in Washington. They diminish the CNN brand as a trustworthy news and information organization every second they are onscreen.

Maybe the show's motto should be: "We know you hate Washington, and we've got the hosts who embody everything that's wrong with it."

But let me leave you with one other means of comparison for the audience O'Malley and Perry drew Wednesday night in this fabulous new CNN forum.

On Sept. 8, I was on Howard Kurtz's new Sunday morning Fox News show, "Media Buzz." It drew 852,000 viewers from 11 a.m. to noon on a Sunday.

When you're a governor and reported presidential candidate, and a show with Zurawik on it is drawing more than twice the audience than the show you're on is, it's time to look for a new media adviser.

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