Goodbye, CNN Headline News… Hello, The Blaze?

Goodbye, CNN Headline News… Hello, The Blaze?

Will CNN hand the reins of its Headline News over to Glenn Beck and his unholy minions? The Wrap says it’s a definite, ongoing possibility.

After Time Warner entertained but ultimately walked away from two proposals to scrap all HLN programming and replace it with The Blaze’s 24/7 conspiracy blather, Team Beck is hoping the third time is the charm.

For several years, HLN has been chasing primetime viewers by becoming more like its sister station CNN with hour-long news & commentary shows, which has never made a lot of sense because CNN is its sister station and, you know, exists. If Time Warner wants more profits than the business model of airing a traditional half-hour newscast every half hour can produce (and obviously they do), then a more radical change is necessary than copying what three other networks are already doing better.

Thus, The Blaze.

Buying and transforming an existing network has always been Beck’s goal. His most high-profile attempt (and as usual “high profile” for Beck means lots of whining and crying) was Al Gore’s Current, now Al Jazeera.

So, is HLN becoming The Blaze a good thing or a bad thing?

My initial reaction is anything that seems like a win for Beck is bad for America, but that’s being a little shortsighted. Beck thrives best when he’s able to isolate his audience and his antics from the American population at large. They love their bubble. When FOX News put Beck in the spotlight, the results were embarrassing for everyone involved. Even Falafel O’Reilly felt shame, and who knew that was possible?

Even more promising, The Blaze would compete directly with FOX News, potentially stealing a sizable chunk of its (aging) viewership. CNN and MSNBC would be largely unaffected (except that Rachel Maddow would have a lot more ultra-right-wing fodder for mockery, which seems to me a good thing).

If The Blaze can play Tea Party spoiler (a la Richard Murdock) to FOX News’s establishment GOP incumbent, then scrappy liberal underdog MSNBC just might find a path to victory.


If The Blaze becomes part of the Time Warner family rather than buying HNL away – which seems the most likely option if this happens at all – suddenly Time Warner has a financial stake in making Glenn Beck a popular and influential figure. That’s not good news for anybody – including Time Warner and the notoriously self-deluded Beck, but especially the American TV viewer.

Verdict: First instincts are sometimes right. This would suck donkey balls.

Vice News, with its brash immersive style of journalism, is also interested in HLN. Keep your fingers crossed. A decision is likely in the next two months.

(For the record, HLN averages about 340,000 viewers during primetime.)

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