Eliot Spitzer, who wasted no time moving into former co-host Kathleen Parker’s office after she left their CNN show last week, has sent CNN back to the ratings cellar with his new program. Spitzer and Parker often clashed, never finding the necessary on-air chemistry that makes a co-hosted show a success. The former New York governor ran the show as if it were his own, often bulldozing Parker who didn’t have the backbone to stand up to her co-host.
While the show was never a credible challenger to Keith Olbermann and later Lawrence O’Donnell at MSNBC, it had gained enough traction to consistently finish in third place in the key A25-54 demographic. But during the first week of the reformatted and renamed show ‘In The Arena,’ the ratings for Spitzer plunged compared to the final week of Parker Spitzer. In the Arena averaged 124,000 viewers last week during the first four nights of the program in the A25-54 demo, compared to 138,000 for HLN’s Nancy Grace and finished in fourth place three of the four nights. The one night the program finished ahead of HLN it did so by just 1,000 viewers. That’s a 29% drop in audience from the week before, when Parker Spitzer averaged 174,000 viewers versus Grace’s 152,000; and beat her every night by a margin ranging from 5,000 to 59,000. This should be troubling news for CNN president Ken Jautz who was hoping for a bigger boost from the retooled program.
Normally the debut of a new program would increase the ratings for a few nights before settling into an average viewing pattern, but clearly just the opposite happened as viewers abandoned the program in droves with Spitzer clearly in charge. CNN thought that Spitzer was the answer to their 8 p.m. programming woes, but it is apparent that he is part of the problem. Yet CNN continues to avoid reality and instead coddles Spitzer, thinking that he can be rehabilitated and that they are responsible for doing so.
What Ken Jautz needs to do is to jettison Spitzer and replace him with someone like Dana Loesch or Erick Erickson who already contributes to the network. They shouldn’t have any trouble finding an unemployed liberal talker to provide an opposing point of view, if that’s what they want. It’s not easy admitting a mistake, but in the case of hiring Spitzer CNN committed a whopping error and they should just move on.