Champagne bottles were popped and high-fives exchanged in Atlanta when the Nielsen ratings service announced that CNN had reached its lowest viewership in 14 years.
"This is what were aiming for," said CNN spokesman Brad Lanes. "After decades of being the number one news network, we knew it was unsustainable. There was too much pressure to stay at the top of our game, of being the most trusted news source on television. Our early on-air team, made up of pros like Bernard Shaw and Peter Arnett, was great, don't get me wrong. They showed that there was a need for news 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But that was when we had something to prove. Now? The only thing we need to prove is that we don't care!"
When asked what the reason was CNN's for decline, Lanes was quick to answer. "Two words: Jeff Zucker. This was the guy, remember, who was named the president of NBC Entertainment just because he made the Today show number one. That's like electing Tom Hanel president of the United States because he's Mayor of Billings, Montana. 'Failing upward," I think they call it."
Lanes went on to explain Zucker's game plan. "When Jeff took over NBC, his mantra was 'profits over respectability.' That meant reality programming, game shows, and Jay Leno at ten o'clock. Month after month, year after year, you think they'd hit bottom. But no, they kept falling to depths never seen in television history. Zucker took NBC from number one to number five. Nobody even knew there were five networks until Jeff took the helm, That's when we thought, 'We gotta get him while he's still hot.'"
Pausing to read a congratulatory text from CNN.com's vice-president Kenneth "KC" Estenson, Lanes continued, "When Jeff arrived here, the first thing we said, 'We can't keep up the good work. Show us what you've got.' We were already feeling the heat from Fox and MSNBC, but we needed to go the NBC route -- become total laughingstocks of the industry. And in no time, he worked his magic. First, he shoved Piers Morgan down America's throat like the guy was Winston Churchill. Then he created a new morning show for Andrew Cuomo's dimwitted brother. After that, he signed Morgan Spurlock, the guy who was famous for throwing up a Big Mac in a movie. So far, so good. But he had to get further from what was considered news. So now he pays Anthony Bourdain to eat at restaurants in Laos, and -- this is the beauty part -- he runs movies during primetime when it used to be news! And documentaries where Sally Field talks about the 1960s because she played the Flying Nun!"
Lanes shook his head, a smile playing around his lips. "All we've got to do is get rid of Wolf Blitzer, and we'll be completely devoid of real journalists. Bottom of the barrel, here we come!"