CNN announced Monday night, in its latest attempt to boost viewership amid rapidly declining ratings, that they will soon start airing a portion of Bill Maher’s popular HBO show.
Every Friday night at 11:30 p.m., CNN will host Overtime, the post-show YouTube segment of Real Time with Bill Maher.
Even though Maher’s show seems like the perfect fit for the smarmy old-school liberals who do still watch CNN, left-wing activists slammed the addition to the cable news network’s lineup.
“If someone peddles conspiracy or dehumanizes (or gives permission for others to dehumanize) groups of people, there’s no need to pay them to lead your network’s expansion,” said a piece in the New Republic.
MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan tweeted, “Bill Maher is obsessed with this idea that ‘cancel culture is out of control.’ Yet Maher himself just got a new CNN gig, despite saying outrageous things about Muslims, Arabs, and trans people; making crass jokes about Asians; & using the N-word on TV.”
Young Turks host Cenk Uygur was closer to the target when he wrote that Maher is “perfect for CNN” because he has a “smug face,” but lost the thread when he added that Maher is known for “propping up right-wing culture war talking points.”
Everyone would do well to remember that a half-hour of licensed programming on Friday night is hardly going to make or break a network. And Cockburn reckons that CNN’s problems are much bigger than one aging and newly bespectacled comic.
After all, the latest batch of TV ratings reveal that CNN had its worst week in nine years, averaging just 444,000 viewers in primetime and 417,000 in viewers in daytime programming. Leading the charge is the network’s new morning show, CNN This Morning, which brought in just 331,000 viewers compared to Fox News’s million and MSNBC’s three-quarters of a million.
The failure of CNN’s morning show suggests new CEO Chris Licht is hardly the savior many hoped him to be. He personally chose the program’s anchors, Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins, who have zero chemistry and seem perpetually confused as to whether they are supposed to be the cheery wake-up crew or hard-hitting newscasters.
Licht has also failed to permanently fill the primetime programming slots with engaging personalities since Chris Cuomo departed amid misconduct allegations. Meanwhile, the rest of CNN’s on-air personalities have merely been shuffled around, including former White House correspondent Jim Acosta, who now carries several hours on Saturday and Sunday.
It seems Licht’s only good programming decision thus far was to ax Brian Stelter and his accompanying Sunday show, the ironically named Reliable Sources, but even then, he did not can Stelter’s media reporter lackey, Oliver Darcy.
If CNN is to be saved, it needs more than just a few cosmetic changes and a licensing deal with HBO. Licht said in a recent interview that CNN hasn’t “really executed a lot of what we’re going to do” and that the network has to “restore trust” with viewers. It’s hard to find those statements to be very promising considering what Cockburn has seen of his agenda thus far.