CNN's John King Panders to Deniers

The second segment on John King's April 22, hour-long CNN news show was about the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day and showed "some of the devastation" to the earth's environment. The handsome, graying King (no relation to the senile Larry) showed pictures taken from a satellite on his "Magic Wall," a high-tech, oversized iPad, of deforestation in Brazil and glacier melt-downs in the Mt. Everest region of Nepal as clear evidence of global warming.

But then he blew it and brought up an image of a post card that touted an "Environmental Bounce Back" in Yellowstone Park. King showed a picture of burned-down trees after the fires of 1988 and a picture of a "thriving area now" in the park. King added that the bald eagle, which was once an endangered species, was also thriving, so, he said, "not all the news is bad."

Then, in a in a cynical have-you-stopped-beating-your-wife statement, he intoned dismissively, "We'll leave it up to you on whether Al Gore is right or he's wrong, but an interesting perspective from up above" ( the satellite photos).

What John King reaffirmed was that news on television is all about interesting and arresting images, which tend to be uncomplicated pictures of what appears on the surface and not about any underlying, complicated truths or messy realities.

King's "USA" show debuted in March after the immigrant-bashing, right-wing bloviator Lou Dobbs mercifully left CNN, but King, flashed his conservative credentials with the pejorative Gore remark and revealed, perhaps unintentionally, that CNN (owned by Time Warner) must have reserved the 7:00 p.m. time period for a wing-nut. King probably kept Dobb's producers, who must be in harmony with Dobb's ideology and climate change denial. And CNN's strategy must be to reserve the time period for a right-wing tilt in a desperate attempt to appeal to Fox News's right-wing audience.

But no one does wing-nut, tea party, birther, climate-change denier pandering better than Fox News, and an attempt to entice its audience to change channels is bound to fail - it's an awful strategy.

If CNN wants to turn around its plummeting ratings, trying to pander to Fox News's conservative audience or to MSNBC's liberal viewers with high-tech gimmicks and flashy sets won't work. CNN is caught in the middle between the polarizing opinions of Fox News and MSNBC, which is clearly a losing position, and there is nothing it or John King, or Anderson Cooper, or Wolf Blitzer, or, can you believe it, Larry King can do about it.

And certainly pandering to climate-change deniers won't work, either.