Cooper Has it All–But the Ratings Suck

The NY Observer writes about beautiful Anderson Cooper, who has everything–looks, charm, talent, a great reputation…But there is one pesky measure of victory that Mr. Cooper doesn’t quite satisfy: He doesn’t actually win.

On average, only some 630,000 viewers a night tune in to Anderson Cooper 360, to watch Anderson Cooper do his professional duties. It’s not just that Anderson Cooper 360 doesn’t get American Idol ratings. Or that it doesn’t get Grey’s Anatomy ratings or O’Reilly Factor ratings or On the Record with Greta van Susteren ratings.

Many nights, Mr. Cooper doesn’t even do as well as his predecessor Aaron Brown, the ice to his fire, the old-fashioned, bespectacled anchor who was booted in 2005 to make room for Mr. Cooper.

CNN president Jon Klein calls Mr. Cooper “the anti-anchor.” If an anchor is someone people regularly watch host a news program, Mr. Klein may be onto something. In April, Mr. Cooper’s ratings were down more than 20 percent—and 36 percent in the 25-to-54 demographic—from Mr. Brown’s numbers the previous April.

One reason put forth is that Mr. Cooper himself, for all his vaunted good looks, is aesthetically ill-suited to television. The silver hair and piercing blue eyes make him all light and no contrast, a human green screen. “He’s wispy,” said the head of one cable news network. “I don’t know how to describe it.”

“It probably has more to do with CNN and the reason people watch TV,” said yet another anonymous cable network executive. “People watch CNN to see if the world’s safe, not really to sit down and watch all night.”