Already in the midst of a massive ratings plunge, the last thing CNN needed was to get savaged by Jon Stewart over its strategy to win back viewers.
The New York Times reported this week that the network "continued what has become a precipitous decline in ratings for its prime-time programs in the first quarter of 2010, with its main hosts losing almost half their viewers in a year."
CNN's strategy has been to position itself as a moderate, nonpartisan alternative to their increasingly ideologically-driven adversaries on Fox News and MSNBC. Yet the network continues to fall further and further behind.
Counseling CNN on how it can "get in the game," Stewart said, "They can go partisan, like their brethren at MSNBC or Fox -- get themselves a Glenn Olber-Beck or a Sean Hanni-Dow. Or, CNN could exercise some editorial authority and integrity -- start breaking apart the entire right-left politico-journalist symbiotic paradigm, lead a new generation of truth-seekers on an anti-talking point jihad."
"Or, or, they could just throw random bloggers into a hot-to-box and see what sticks," he added, before playing a series of clips unveiling the harsh rhetoric of RedState.com founder and conservative writer Erick Erickson, whom CNN recently hired as a paid contributor.
"We could use that guy to make Mary Matalin seem sane and Carville seem human," mocked the host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, assailing Erickson's "entire resume" of "incendiary political rhetoric."
The progressive blog Think Progress labeled Erickson "unhinged" upon his CNN hire and pointed to a number of "racial and violent statements" he has made in the past, such as telling Tea Partiers to "send Obama to a death panel."
"CNN: We have no idea what the fuck we're doing," Stewart concluded.
This video is from Comedy Central's The Daily Show, broadcast April 1, 2010.