The lesson seems to be that a clear political tilt guarantees a reliable following among people who prefer to watch a news channel that echoes their own biases. This is especially true with Fox's conservative viewers who think they have nowhere else to go. CNN's audience, on the other hand, is more fickle. They come and go with the ebb and flow of events. A big storm, a mass shooting, a hot election or a sensational trial will bring in the crowd, but slow news days will leave a lot of empty seats in front of the TV – or will set off a wave of channel surfing that drains away viewers.
CORRECTED, Nov. 8, 2013 at 4:10pm: An earlier version of this column said CNN has lost viewers this year while Fox and MSNBC have seen their numbers increase, and that CNN lags behind its two rivals during primetime. According to the CNN Research and Analytics department, CNN's total audience Monday through Sunday is up 9% from a year ago while Fox is down 5% and MSNBC is down 17%. The same data show that in primetime CNN is down 12%, Fox is down 16% and MSNBC is down 30% from this time last year.
There is plenty of scuttlebutt about the weakest link in CNN’s evening programming,
CNN’s counterargument to all the gloomy reports is that, unlike Fox and MSNBC, the company is not just a U.S. news outlet. It also includes a worldwide news network, a headline news network, a Spanish-language channel and a major news website. It could also be noted that MSNBC is not exactly soaring like an eagle. Their star,