CNN tried to put some distance between itself and its cable new competitors with regard to the way it covers news, even if its viewership numbers tell a different story.
"The cable news landscape has never been cast in such stark contrast as it is today," Jon Klein, CNN/US President said Tuesday during the network's Television Critics Association summer press tour presentation here. "You got one network that's based in partisan right wing opinion, you have another that is based on partisan left wing opinion, and you've got one network only that's based on reporting. Our journalistic quality is higher than it's ever been."
Klein said the network posted the most-watched July in its history, averaging 1.1 million viewers - up 39% compared to last year. But that still fell short of rival Fox News, which drew 2 million viewers for the month, an increase of 43%.
Nevertheless, Klein said the network is on a roll and will continue to cover fast-paced breaking news. In fact, Klein said the biggest challenge is to determine which stories merit greater resources than others.
"We live in fascinating times ... it's a great time to do what we do and it's a great time do it where I do it," Klein said.
One story that TV writers challenged Klein on as possibly giving too much airtime to is the controversy over the legitimacy of President Barack Obama's birth certificate. While CNN personality Lou Dobbs has several times stated unequivocally on his show Lou Dobbs Tonight that he indeed has a Hawaiian birth certificate, he continues to give voice to those who doubt Obama's citizenship.
"What Lou and everyone else at CNN has done is very clearly report and run down the fact that there is no doubt according to the state of Hawaii that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, and Lou Dobbs has repeated that over and over again," he said. "Separate from that there's this phenomenon of people who don't believe it anyway ... and what Lou's done has offered panel discussions that offer a range and point of view about those episodes."
The network will look to continue its strong news reporting/documentary content with the Sept. 21 launch of a new internationally tinged series hosted by CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour. The series, Amanpour will air live from New York weekdays on CNN International at 3 p.m. (ET) - the peak of European primetime - and Sundays on CNN/U.S. at 2 p.m. (ET) and focus on a particular newsworthy and provocative topic - that will feature guests who challenge and deconstruct the conventional wisdom surrounding that topic.
In August, Amanpour will also helm a new two-hour event documentary, Generation Islam focusing on the battle for the hearts and minds of the youth of the Muslim world.
On the HLN (formerly Headline News] front, the network in September will add The View ‘s Joy Behar to its growing list of female personalities. Behar will host The Joy Behar Show, which will showcase Behar's personal take on the day's news, according to Ken Jautz, executive vice president of CNN Worldwide. The show will follow HLN's Nancy Grace show.