The TV Newser at Media Bistro reported earlier today (hat tip to Drudge) that the Gallup organization is dropping CNN as a partner citing declining viewer rates as the reason.

According to TV Newser:

In a memo dated Wednesday, March 15, CEO Jim Clifton wrote: ‘We have chosen not to renew our contract with CNN. We have had a great relationship with CNN, but it is not the right alignment for our future.’

"'CNN has far fewer viewers than it did in the past, and we feel that our brand was getting lost and diluted,' Clifton continued. '...We have only about 200,000 viewers during our CNN segments.'"

Apparently, CNN is disputing this, saying that Gallup’s decision had nothing to do with the network’s declining ratings. However, Drudge has gotten an exclusive copy of the actual memo from Clifton. Here is another one of the reasons Clifton listed in his memo for this decision:

Following up on Brent Baker's report on the network coverage of Helen Thomas' exchange with President Bush during this morning's presidential press conference, it should be noted that during the 5pm hour of today's The Situation Room, the former UPI White House bureau chief sat down for an interview with anchor Wolf Blitzer. Thomas admitted that she "sort of" apologized to President Bush for her condemnation of him as "the worst president ever." However, it didn't take long for Thomas to resume her attacks on the Bush administration, which she slammed for "encouraging all of the horror that's going on" in Iraq. Thomas also placed the blame for the deaths of innocent civilians not on the terrorists, but on the United States.

Helen Thomas: "In this case, in the case of the President and his cohorts, I think they have really spread war throughout the Middle East. They have really encouraged all of the horror that's going on. We have killed so many innocent people.."

To paraphrase that famous George Santayana phrase, perhaps political reporters who highlight liberal efforts to embarrass the President on Friday are destined to find those same moves inadequate on Monday. Having awarded liberal Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold with the "political play of the week" for his motion to censure President Bush on the March 17 The Situation Room, CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider during today’s 4pm hour wondered why the senator isn’t proposing impeachment.

Bill Schneider: "Wolf, the philosopher George Santayana wrote those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. But sometimes that happens with those who remember the past all too well. Senator Russ Feingold’s motion to censure President Bush raises a question. If he believes the President broke the law, why isn’t the senator proposing impeachment?"

Schneider then highlighted four panels from the March 19 Doonesbury, Gary Trudeau’s left-wing cartoon strip:

Anderson Cooper sounded more like a political pundit than an objective journalist during a discussion with Time columnist Joe Klein on March 17 on the third anniversary of the start of the Iraq war. Cooper expressed outrage that "none of us have been asked to sacrifice" during this time of war, while Klein asked, "why aren't we collecting clothing for the children of Iraq," even though there are numerous organizations and programs established to do just that.

First, though, Cooper set up Klein to take this shot at Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld:

Anderson Cooper: "I mean, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, there’s a lot of people who’ve been calling for his head, and you’ve talked to a lot of people in the Pentagon who are surprised he’s still there. But he looks like he’s–there’s no sign of him going."

Joe Klein: "Rumsfeld ran the most criminally incompetent military campaign, you know, in, in, in the last 100 years, perhaps in American history."

Following shortly after a segment discussing a poll showing 59 percent of Americans believe the economy is doing well, CNN's "In the Money" crew wondered why Americans were not scaring easily with fears of a bird flu pandemic. [For article, click here.]

On Friday afternoon’s The Situation Room, CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider touted Senator Russ Feingold’s motion to censure President Bush as his choice for this week’s "political play of the week," heaping this praise upon him: "Spines, backbones, they help you stand up for what you believe. Of course it’s risky, that’s what a play of the week is all about.

The national media was full of broken hearts last week when Dana Reeve died at 44, after nearly a decade of caring for disabled “Superman” star Christopher Reeve. It was obvious from the coverage that this woman had won hearts and made friendships in the media elite. But something strange happened in all the laudatory waves of coverage. Someone shrunk her activism. 

This is something I thought I’d never say, but bravo to CNN’s Soledad O’Brien who did a far better job of questioning Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) concerning his call for a censure of President Bush than ABC’s George Stephanopoulos did on Sunday’s “This Week.”

On CNN’s American Morning, U.S. News & World Report Editor-At-Large David Gergen fretted that Republican Senator John McCain may be transforming into a "hard-core conservative" after McCain expressed his support for President Bush at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Memphis, Tennessee on March 10.

During the 5pm hour of this evening’s The Situation Room, CNN senior national correspondent John Roberts devoted a portion of his report from the Southern Republican Leadership Conference [SRLC] in Memphis, Tennessee to highlight one potential GOP presidential candidate that most people have likely never heard of. Roberts set up the exchange with Dr. Mark Kline in the live portion of his report:

John Roberts: "His name is Dr. Mark Kline. He’s a psychiatrist from California who is launching an exploratory campaign for president."

Shortly thereafter, the taped exchange between Roberts and Kline was shown:

Roberts: "So, Dr. Kline, you’re–you’ve launched an exploratory committee here for president. What do you, what do you think of the current administration?"

Dr. Mark Kline: "I think this is actually the worst administration I’ve ever seen in my entire life."

Sometimes the naiveté of the press is nothing less than startling. For many months, the media have been expressing tremendous outrage concerning leaks from the Bush administration that allegedly “outed” a member of the CIA. Now, the White House is looking into legal ways to prevent such leaks, and the media are equally dismayed. Sunday’s “Reliable Sources” on CNN represented a fine example of this hypocrisy. Host Howard Kurtz discussed this matter with U.S. News & World Report editor-at-large David Gergen, and former ABC News correspondent Linda Douglass (video link to follow).

First, Gergen suggested that he has not seen so secretive a White House for over thirty years, bringing up one of the media’s favorite Republican whipping boys – “we haven't seen it since the days of Nixon” – while appearing incredulous when he stated:

Think the mainstream media has let go of its anger over the events surrounding the release of Vice President Dick Cheney’s hunting accident to the press? Judging from the tone of his comments on today’s American Morning, CNN’s senior national correspondent John Roberts certainly has not. Roberts, formerly biased over at CBS News as the MRC’s Rich Noyes reported here, appeared shortly after 8am to discuss President Bush’s speech in India. After trumpeting the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll showing the job approval numbers for the President slipping, Roberts attributed the decline to a "tired" White House staff.

John Roberts: "But there’s no question that the people at the White House have, you know, they’re almost like the gang that can’t shoot straight–"

That’s when Roberts took his shot at the White House and Cheney:

Roberts: "–and when they do shoot straight, they don’t tell people about it for 24 hours. But the problem could be that they’re, they’re suffering real fatigue there, that they’re burned out, that they need to bring in some new blood."

The transcript of the segment with American Morning co-host Miles O'Brien is behind the cut.