"I bet someone that CNN's Dead Wrong, which aired 8PM Sunday night, would probably be near dead last in the weekend cable news ratings. Are the numbers in yet?," an e-mailer asked.
Yes they are, and I'm afraid you lost the bet. The premiere of CNN's investigation into pre-war intelligence failures averaged 673,000 viewers on Sunday night, 43% more than CNN Presents' 2005 average of 470,000 viewers.
The show also scored CNN's highest rating in the 25-54 demo on Sunday, with 198,000 viewers. (However, CNN placed fourth in the demo on Sunday night with only 99,000 viewers -- even MSNBC beat 'em.)
The program received approximately five times more viewer feedback than average, and most of it was positive. According to a CNN spokesperson, an average show receives about 40 to 50 responses the night/next morning it airs and Dead Wrong received over 350. The overwhelming majority of the feedback was positive, and the primary sentiment was "viewers thanking CNN for having the courage to be a leader and address the facts of this in the media," according to the network.
The special did a good job of discussing the way Administration desires to go to war made them insist on a certain kind of intel from the CIA. When you tell an intelligence organization what they're supposed to get you, it's pretty predictable from there that you'll proceed to get bad intelligence. They didn't tell the CIA, "get me everything you've got on Iraq." They said, "Show me that Iraq has WMDs and poses a threat." Well done CNN, please continue to report like you did in "Dead Wrong," it's a huge step up from the kind of reporting you have engaged in recently.