Former President Bill Clinton said he used to worry CNN would lose too many viewers in the increasingly competitive cable news environment Wednesday on Piers Morgan Live.
Morgan, jokingly acknowledging some of the network's recent ratings struggles, replied "have no fear of that Mr. President, we're storming ahead."
In a moment of striking irony, Clinton outlined the technical aspects of primetime cable news profitability, and praised Morgan for succeeding as a moderate in an "extreme" cable news landscape:
CLINTON: I used to worry CNN was going to lose too many viewers because --
MORGAN: Have no fear of that, Mr. President. We are storming ahead.
CLINTON: You're doing better but you're more entertaining now, which is good. But you became more entertaining without becoming more extreme, which is important. I mean, because people are wired when they see all of this conflict to get into the fray so that -- you know what it takes. You have to have 800,000 viewers in a cable show to break even. And if you get more than that, your profits go up. So the good news about the media today is that we have more sources of information than ever before. The bad news is we are all of us prone only to go to the places we agree with so MSNBC has grown because they have --
MORGAN: We don't mention that in this room. Sorry.
CLINTON: Fox News had this big base and they know it's very carefully done psychologically and substantively. [...]
The former president was most likely unaware that Piers Morgan consistently struggles to reach the 800,000 viewer threshold.
In fact, last Monday Morgan only managed to bring in a paltry 281,000 total viewers.
It is unclear if President Clinton's appearance on Piers Morgan will buoy what has otherwise been a dismal week for CNN's British import.