Accuracy in Media

Don Lemon of CNN on The View

CNN news anchor Don Lemon, filling in as a guest host on ABC’s The View on Monday, defended the network’s wall-to-wall coverage of the missing Malaysian Air flight MH370, saying that it wasn’t just about ratings.

The View co-host Barbara Walters observed that CNN has covered flight MH370 more than they covered the Boston Marathon bombings, whose anniversary is today, and “more than any other story I can remember.”

Lemon told Walters that she was probably right, but that the audience interest is there and the ratings show it.

Walters then asked if it was all about the ratings, since Lemon brought it up.

Lemon said it was more than that:

It’s not just the ratings, but we’re giving––part of what our mission is to give the audience what they want.

Co-host Sherri Shepherd then asked if the coverage was fair to the grieving families, to which Lemon said that it was because Malaysia doesn’t have a free and open press. He said that they were happy that CNN was covering it since it’s the only information they were receiving.

Walters then circled back to the ratings issue.

Walters: CNN would not do this if it were not for the ratings. So what do you think is the most intriguing part of this?

Lemon: Well, I don’t agree that we do it just because of—just, it’s not for the ratings. We do a lot of things that don’t rate well, but we still do it.

He must have been referring to Crossfire, and some of the other clunker programs on CNN.

It doesn’t matter how much Lemon denies that the main reason CNN is still covering flight MH370 is because of the ratings. It’s very easy to see that’s exactly why they’re still on the story, given that there has been little newsworthy to report lately.

There is no denying that for the ratings-starved CNN, flight MH370 has been a ratings bonanza, much to the dismay of MSNBC which has seen its ratings suffer as a result.

Until the plane is found or the audience decides to tune out, CNN will likely continue to milk this story for all its worth, and in the process, buy some additional time to fix its woeful lineup.

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