Matt Towery

ATLANTA -- Let's be honest, no matter how one paints it or spins it, CNN is a news network in trouble.

I can talk about this because I have known far too many former CNN leaders, anchors, and alumni to not know a little bit about the history of the company.

And let's be clear, the new man at the helm, Jeff Zucker, formerly of NBC is not the man to blame for the network's precarious position. He has tried many a new move and likely will attempt more as this once king-of-cable news continues to attempt to find its place in a world it once dominated.

But make no mistake, his task is mighty and time may not be his friend.

The demise of CNN can be traced to three names -- Ted Turner, Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes. It's that simple.

Turner started out in his business life as a conservative Republican and continued to walk a fine line between his pro-GOP past and his later tilt to the left during the early years of CNN. Yes, he was seen in the company of incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter in the late 1970s and into 1980, but that could hardly be viewed as a huge transgression given his ties to Carter's native Georgia.

But in the early '80s he attended some Reagan fundraisers and literally set up shop in then-Georgia Republican U.S. Sen. Mack Mattingly's office as he sought to fight legislation he viewed as a big network attack on his fledgling company. And while Turner became increasingly flamboyant and liberal, his passion for covering breaking news and doing so with as little bias as possible was unwavering.

Ironically, CNN's big break came during the 1990 war in Iraq. Turner managed to get hold of a then-virtually unheard of camera operated by satellite, and his man in Bagdad captured riveting and live shots of U.S. missiles striking the city in an effort, led by a Republican president, to end aggression by Saddam Hussein.

Its stock soared, and by 1996, with its world headquarters hosting the Olympic games and CNN dominating the world of cable news, Ted Turner chose to sell to Time Warner. It is a move I believe Turner regrets in many ways to this very day.

About this same time media mogul Rupert Murdoch persuaded likely the best political and corporate media mind of our lifetime, Roger Ailes, to leave what would become MSNBC and run Fox News. The rest, as they say, is history.

Understand that, allegedly, Turner and Murdoch have been "feuding" for years, with most of the feud coming from the Turner side. That said, it's likely that the two have much more in common than meets the eye.


Matt Towery

Matt Towery is a former National Republican legislator of the year and author of Powerchicks: How Women Will Dominate America.
 
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