When I started WorldNetDaily.com in 1997, the big news kid on the Internet block was MSNBC.com.
I remember telling incredulous colleagues that one of my goals for what became WND.com was to surpass MSNBC.com.
It seemed as crazy to most people back then as the idea of David slaying Goliath.
When the cable ratings came in last week showing both CNN and MSNBC losing huge percentages of their audience, I decided to check on their respective market-share positions in what will someday soon be a more important barometer than the number of cable viewers they have.
Not surprisingly, WND.com leads MSNBC substantially in Internet viewers. (WND.com is the 519th largest website of any kind in the U.S., according to Quantcast.com, while MSNBC.com ranks 545th.)
And while CNN is still the top Internet news destination in the world, you have to wonder how long it can hold that position while losing 40 percent of its TV audience since last year alone.
What accounts for these losses?
Being out of touch with America and American values.
It’s just that simple.
Before I launched WND.com, I was a daily newspaper editor. Long before the Internet came along, I saw my beloved industry in decline. Most newspapers were losing readers in droves back then even when there was no competition.
Newspaper reporters and editors were preparing content for themselves, not their audiences. They preached to their audiences. They took them for granted. They forgot while people picked up newspapers in the first place. They thumbed their noses at the very people who afforded them a living.
That’s why I decided to invent – quite literally – a new way to bring news to people. WND.com had a completely different ethos to it than anything that came before, and, I believe, since.
To an extent, Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes did something similar with Fox News Channel just about the same time. And the results of their experiment are in. Fox News not only eclipses the ratings of its competitors by a country mile, it dwarfs their combined ratings. What’s more, Fox News’ profits exceed those of ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, CNN and MSNBC combined.
While Fox News is far from the news agency I would produce for television, it does offer exciting debate. It does offer different opinions. It does offer programming that doesn’t go out of its way to insult the intelligence of most Americans.
While Fox News was offering a clash of views, CNN was dropping its once highly rated debate show, “Crossfire.” There just wasn’t room for the views of Pat Buchanan or anyone like him at CNN any more. More recently, CNN fired Lou Dobbs, the populist host who regularly exposed government fraud, waste and abuse and who criticized the government’s unwillingness to protect Americans from an invasion of illegal aliens from south of the border. But his biggest sin may have been asking Barack Obama to produce his birth certificate.
Meanwhile, MSNBC’s leadership decided the key to success was imitating Fox’s fiery programming – from what it perceived to be the other side of the political spectrum. Its answer was Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow, two opinionated, highly partisan, extremist wackos whose viewpoints don’t even resonate with 1 percent of Americans.
Not only is MSNBC committing cable ratings suicide, it has also effectively all but pulled the plug on its once vaunted website, MSNBC.com.
My prophecy has been fulfilled – even if it did take a little longer than I expected.