CNN may have found its solution to exiting the ratings quagmire within which it has been entrenched. Numerous times the network has seen its position as a leader in the news game compromised by the fact it has routinely been beaten out by SpongeBob in the cable ratings. However this past Monday it hit ratings gold, by becoming a partisan podium for the 2020 election.

On January 28 CNN hosted a town hall for Senator Kamala Harris at 10:00 pm, and the hour long Q&A/campaign launch was ratings gold for the network. It was the easy winner over the news nets in the key-demographic Adults 25-54. Overall the broadcast netted almost 2 million viewers, the most ever for a single candidate on CNN. It led all of cable news in the demo for Monday, a 75% increase over its numbers for the past month.

CNN has taken a decidedly active role in the upcoming election, concluding that journalistic ethics and the appearance of non-partisanship is less important than attracting audiences. Lately the news net has been signing on potential political candidates with an uncaring elan as to how it looks, granting them free airtime ahead of elections.

John Kasich was a recent announcement, and just yesterday we learned the embattled mayor of Tallahassee, Andrew Gillum, was signed as an on-air contributor. Gillum is considered a hot-ticket name as a potential running mate, so the fact that he is under 2 seperate ethics investigations is secondary to getting his name out in the public. Given both are poised to be players for the next 2 years CNN seems intent on framing the upcoming election.

Kamala Harris had only officially announced her candidacy on Sunday, so things had been in the works with CNN well ahead. Monday’s ratings seem to indicate, on the surface, a wide interest in her running. This was certainly bragging metrics for Harris, one of the newly christened candidates in a mushrooming field of Democratic contenders.

However she managed to make a political faceplant as she bolted from the gate. As the forum Monday was hosted by Jake Tapper he at one stage in the coming out party asked her a direct question about her healthcare position. He stated she supports the Bernie Sanders bill (on which she is a signatory) that would ultimately eliminate private health insurance entirely.

This segment has led to a significant blowback onto the Senator. It turns out that the 177,000,0000 Americans with their own coverage are mostly fond of that freedom, and they rather resent someone suggesting “let’s move on”, and dismissing them away with a casual flip of the hand.

The reaction was so swift that in less than a day retraction and backtracking was seen from the Harris camp. CNN itself called the Harris comments “a shockwave”. The news outlet quoted a campaign staffer who attempted a course-correction on her comments:

As the furor grew, a Harris adviser on Tuesday signaled that the candidate would also be open to the more moderate health reform plans, which would preserve the industry, being floated by other congressional Democrats. It represents a compromise position that risks angering “Medicare-for-all” proponents, who view eliminating private health insurance as key to enacting their comprehensive reform.

Except, another member of the Harris team came up with another, differing explanation: “Harris national press secretary Ian Sams said her willingness to consider alternate routes to a single payer system should not cast doubt on her commitment to the policy: ‘Medicare-for-all is the plan that she believes will solve the problem and get all Americans covered. Period,’ Sams told CNN.”

So she wants to eliminate private health care entirely…and she wants to preserve the insurance industry…but she also wants to see alternate routes to single-payer, which would eventually eliminate private insurance…even though countries with M4A plans also encourage private insurance still be an option.

Well, that certainly clarifies nothing at all. And to make things even less clear than a bag of O-Positive, Harris Communications Director Lily Adams responded to CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski announcement that their team was backtracking. “[You] said she is backtracking. She is not. She’s had the same position before the town hall, during and after the town hall.”

Um, a question for Ms. Adams: Which of the THREE positions we have been given from the Kamala Harris campaign in less than one day is being considered as “the same position” she had all along??

(Additionally: Kaczynski did his own backpeddling and deleted his Tweet, as he dutifully obeyed the Harris staff members who objected to him calling their backpeddling on the issue “backpeddling”.)

This has been an astounding display of message abuse from a campaign, and it is one that is only days old. They enjoyed record ratings for her unveiling, then managed to have her squander that PR windfall in about 12 hours. It appears that the number of Hillary Clinton campaign advisors that are now staffed on the Kamala Harris candidacy are doing just as good of work as they displayed in the past.

 

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