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February 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

CNN may have taken some bashing from TV critics for its wall-to-wall coverage of the Carnival cruise ship Triumph’s docking on Valentine’s Day, but it pushed its primetime audience up 62 percent to 1.02 million, and the number of viewers in the 25-54 age group — the target group for news outlets — soared 74 percent, according to preliminary ratings data from Nielsen Research. Those figures were still no match for Fox News, which averaged 2.13 million total adults during primetime, but they did allow CNN to top MSNBC, which had 867,000 total viewers in primetime. Still, the extent of the coverage drew fire from several critics who accused CNN of ignoring far more important matters. At MSNBC, host Joe Scarborough remarked, “The killing in Syria comes to an end, the national debt clock stopped, we don’t have to worry anymore because CNN tells us that this cruise ship was the only story that mattered yesterday for 24 hours.” James Poniewozik, media columnist for Time magazine, a corporate sibling of CNN, wrote, “However unappetizing, the Triumph disaster was absolutely a legitimate news story. There was human suffering-in a vacation setting, something all viewers can relate to-there was drama on the high seas, there was health concern, there was corporate scandal. There was, let’s be frank, poop. It wasn’t the only news story, though, and it’s fair to look at the network’s coverage as a hint of how it may change under new head Jeff Zucker.” Denver Post TV writer Joanne Ostrow wrote: “CNN’s new boss Jeff Zucker has made a point of pushing a “broader” definition of news. Is this what he means by broader? Not to make light of an uncomfortable, potentially hazardous situation. But, really, this was a bit of overkill.” And Jon Stewart on Comedy Central quipped that CNN seemed to be “treating a stalled cruise ship like it’s the Shackleton expedition.” On CNN’s own Reliable Sources, panelist Frank Sesno, the former CNN Washington bureau chief remarked, “CNN went overboard,” while the Washington Post‘s Paul Farhi commented, “It was not a very important story. It was about people being inconvenienced.”