Puffing Up CNN at Fox News' Expense

But CNN's "surge" may be less than meets the eye.

Reporter Tim Arango made the front page of Business Day Wednesday with a glowing profile of CNN news group president Jim Walton and his cable network, "Back in the Game - Presidential Primaries Lift CNN"s Ratings, and Confidence."

But the increase may be less than advertised. An accompany chart ("A Primary Surge") showed CNN leadingthe ratings ina single month, February, and only in prime-time viewership in the 25-54 age bracket - an important category, but not exactly total victory. As the story noted after in a parenthetical aside in paragraph seven on the jump page (emphasis added):

All three cable news networks - CNN, Fox News and MSNBC - have enjoyed ratings bumps during the primaries. But CNN is able to brag about something it had not been able to since 2001: it topped Fox News in the prime-time ratings for a single month in the 25 to 54 age category, the group most coveted by advertisers.

In February, CNN attracted an average of 750,000 viewers in that category during prime time, compared with 550,000 for Fox News and 363,000 for MSNBC, according to Nielsen. (Across all age groups Fox News remained No. 1, with an average of 2.2 million viewers in prime time, compared with 2 million for CNN.)

The third-to-last paragraph provided some more needed perspective:

And February's primary-induced bump aside, CNN is still regularly trounced in the ratings by Fox News.

It's not the first time the paper has puffed up Fox's liberal rival networks - the paper has done at least two similar stories on MSNBC, one of them on the front page.