Critics Bash CNN, But Coverage Of MH370 Drives Ratings

CNN's ratings have almost doubled since it began running wall-to-wall coverage of the missing plane, despite having few facts to report.

Critics Bash CNN, But Coverage Of MH370 Drives Ratings

Cable news' wall-to-wall coverage of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is well into its second week now, but one network is simultaneously getting heat from critics and viewers from its competition.

Ever since the missing plane started making headlines, CNN has taken a little bit of a beating in the press for, well, reaching.

Like filing reports from flight simulators to walking around on giant maps, and of course there's this from Don Lemon:

"On a day when we deal with the supernatural, when we go to church, the supernatural power of God. … People are saying to me, 'Why aren't you talking about the possibility?'"

With Lemon pointing the finger at God and later black holes as possible culprits in the flight’s disappearance, it’s no surprise the network has become the butt of jokes. (Via The New Yorker, Twitter / @DRUDGE)

But this probably helps soothe the burn: "It's turned into a ratings bonanza for struggling CNN. Their nonstop coverage has generated a 100 percent boost in ratings." (Via CBS Television Distribution / "Inside Edition")

Yep, The New York Times reports the network's ratings have nearly doubled in primetime, with an anonymous CNN executive calling the missing plane "a tremendous story that is completely in our wheelhouse."

To be fair, CNN still doesn't come close to Fox News in viewership, but the Flight 370 coverage has taken a few bites out of the big dog.

Specifically the ratings heavyweight Bill O'Reilly. Anderson Cooper's show beat O'Reilly's in the 25-54 demographic three times last week. And O'Reilly seems none too happy about it. (Via Mediaite)

"I know it's ratings, obviously, it's ratings. People want to watch the mystery. But it's now corrupting the news business, I think." (Via Fox News)

But CNN has its defenders. After all, if they’re giving the viewers what they want, can they really be wrong?

A writer for Maclean's points out: "CNN's ratings problems have long been a familiar story. … But when a big round-the-clock news story breaks, then CNN roars to life like the Godzilla of news."

Even a Fox News contributor admitted that when a big story like this comes along, she goes to CNN.

"If I want to know about news, I do go to CNN because it is 24/7." (Via Fox News)

But will it last? Once big news events like this are over, CNN's audience tends to drop back down to where it was before.

If it happens again, CNN has a long way to fall: it had its third worst month ever back in January. (Via TVNewser)

But until the network figures out a new business model, it looks like it's stuck with the boom and bust. And a writer for Poynter says that's because people can't get enough of these big stories.

"Though I hate the rumors and overreaching on a story like this, I see the fundamentally human process driving empty quotes and unsubstantiated reporting. This is how we cope with big, uncertain events: we grasp for ways to relate."