Larry King may not be the last domino to tumble at CNN. TheWrap.com reports that Anderson Cooper is considering ducking out of the network when his contract is up next year. With Campbell Brown and, soon, King already gone, that would mean CNN has junked its entire primetime lineup, a mark of how thoroughly its ratings have imploded over the past two years.
And make no mistake -- for all the attention Cooper gets in other news media, he's as much a part of the problem at CNN as anybody else. TheWrap's claim that "Cooper's departure could be perilous for CNN. Cooper's ratings are one of the only bright spots in the network's schedule" is bizarre. For the first six months of the year, Cooper's audience (average: 708,000) has actually trailed King's (722,000). In second-quarter Nielsen ratings released earlier this week, Cooper's number of viewers was down 28 percent from the same time last year. His 10 p.m. show gets clobbered by Greta van Susteren's on Fox News and barely beats out the Keith Olbermann reruns that air on MSNBC. Perhaps that's why CNN boss Jon Klein, asked point-blank earlier this week if Cooper would stay in the 10 p.m. slot in the same format, replied: "I don't know. I just don't know."
As long as we're on the subject of grim news for CNN, I doubt if any of the network's reporters were pleased with the interview former CNN Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre gave NPR this week. Asked why Gen. Stanley McCrystal -- just sacked for bad-mouthing President Obama to a Rolling Stone reporter -- could have shot off his mouth that way in front of a journalist, McIntyre explained: "The dirty little secret is yeah, we sort of informally agree not to report a lot of things that we see and hear, some of it for legitimate security reasons, and some of it because it could just be embarrassing. And the tradeoff is we get a continued relationship with these people and we can get information." Which, McIntyre conceded, "implies this sort of overly cozy relationship." You think?
UPDATE: CNN passes along a message from Cooper, who says he's not going anywhere. "I’m very happy working at CNN, have no plans to leave, and am not in conflict with anyone on my staff," he says. "I have been reporting from the Gulf for six straight weeks where real people are facing real issues. All this gossip and anonymous sniping seems extraordinarily silly."