'Experts' Ignore CNBC's Leftward Tilt as Cause for Ratings Drop

When in doubt blame conservatism, even when it comes to the struggles of a media outlet. Even when liberalism might be to blame.


Ever since Nielsen came out with the July numbers for CNBC that showed the network had suffered a 28 percent ratings decline over a year ago, some of the financial media intelligentsia have been eager to point to what they perceive are the right-leaning political shortcomings of the network as a possible reason.


According to Daniel Gross, the Moneybox columnist for Slate.com and a columnist for Newsweek (and a known proprietor “teabag” double entendres), there’s been a decline in interest in financial news since the markets haven’t been as volatile. But Gross is also convinced there’s a component of the network’s “rightward, anti-Obama tilt,” despite its efforts to placate the left.


“But while many anchors and reporters play it straight down the middle, CNBC has embraced a surprisingly politicized view of these developments,” Gross wrote in his Aug. 4 Slate “Moneybox” column. “Many of the network's most prominent personalities are quite far to the right. (Disclosure: I appear on CNBC occasionally, and the network's on-air and off-air staff has been kind to me.) As the stock market fell in January and February, a reaction to the sharp plunge in the global economy and failure of the world's credit system, CNBC hosts and analysts warned of an Obama bear market.”


Jonathan Berr, writing for AOL’s DailyFinance.com suggests CNBC’s rating took a dive after the Jim Cramer/Jon Stewart feud, where the CNBC “Mad Money” turned up lame in a Comedy Central “Daily Show” appearance in March.


“Nonetheless, some observers argue that viewers are tuning out CNBC because they don’t like what the[y] are seeing,” Kerr wrote on Aug. 4. “This became particularly clear earlier this year, when CNBC's ratings dropped after its slap-fight with the "Daily Show's" Jon Stewart.”


But, the shift of CNBC has been anything but more to the right. The Cramer/Stewart feud followed Cramer’s outspoken criticism of President Barack Obama’s economic policies, and CNBC CME floor reporter Rick Santelli’s famous outburst about the Obama’s administration’s mortgage policies. Since then, the network has gone out of its way to appease elements on the left and its ratings have dropped during that period.


Liberal storefronts have set up shop to influence editorial policy of CNBC (albeit without the same fervor they did three months ago). The network has hired former DNC chair and Vermont Gov. Howard Dean as a contributor and brought in Huffington Post liberal co-founder Arianna Huffington as a guest host on multiple occasions.


And according to the April 16 New York Post’s gossip page “Page Six,” CNBC brass had even instructed by General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt and NBC Universal President Jeff Zucker to back off some of the anti-Obama rhetoric come from the likes of Cramer and Santelli.


But, it was from that point forward that CNBC had seen its ratings show a real decline. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) had already begun to come off its lows when CNBC began making these shifts in editorial direction to appease certain left-wing constituencies.