CNN’s ‘Weed’ Needs The Ratings

CANNABIS CULTURE – When CNN was riding high in the television ratings, Dr. Sanjay Gupta was making pronouncements on the evils of medical marijuana. When it was on the ballot in many states, he stumped against it. Dr. Sanjay Gupta was goosestepping right along with DEA and big pharma about how cannabis had no medical value.

Now ratings are tanking and his White House career has hit a glass ceiling and he has apologized to the cannabis community for being the Bad Guy.

But I’m not accepting it.

The cable news broadcaster’s ratings have lost viewers for the past six years and this year has been the worst yet. “The network has seen a 10 percent decline in total daytime viewers and a whopping 18 percent drop in nighttime viewers from one year ago,” according to The Daily Beast.

CNN aired a documentary on cannabis knowing full well they’d get a blip in their dip. Marijuana is a popular topic, which is something CNN requires to stay afloat financially in the ratings war. They gobble up popular news, hype it and move on like some kind of journalism blight – or is that blight on journalism?

Read CNN Advertising Drop Stunning from The Huffington Post.

This network brought us endless insights into the “Poop Cruise” and flogged George Zimmerman’s trial like a guy violently standing his ground to improve ratings, only to see those ratings return to their dismal levels after the trial. Analyzing ratings and the news that corresponds with it, you begin to understand the CNN newsroom isn’t making news decisions – they’re making ratings decisions.

Sunday’s ratings are not available yet, but I’d bet the documentary did fantastic and the ratings bump will be a story for television bloggers. How good did it do? I suspect some CNN producers are still drunk from its success Monday morning.

The mia culpa and the documentary on cannabis comes at a time when Dr. Sanjay Gupta no longer has the influence he once had. Politicos always turn their backs on their inner prohibition-lovers when their careers have hit a stand still. Not when they’re riding high with it. This irks me more than anything!

After turning down the Surgeon General position, his White House career has hit a glass ceiling. It’s obvious he turned down the opportunity because Dr. Sanjay Gupta would have to reveal his (probably extensive) ties to big pharma. He admits in his mia culpa too not going far enough into the research and not taking patients personal accounts into consideration when writing his 2009 lambaste of medical marijuana, at a time when it was on the ballot.

The question, which Dr. Sanjay Gupta does not want to answer is, how much money from the pharmaceutical industry did you earn in 2009? Were you paid by pharmaceutical companies to pen the piece against medical marijuana in ’09? Has your pharma income decreased in 2013 because of the loss of viewers?

“Some journalists and journalism professors specializing in health care have criticized Gupta’s coverage. Gupta’s promotion of Merck’s cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil, without disclosing the financial arrangements between CNN and Merck.” – Wikipedia

Will Dr. Sanjay Gupta reveal his ties to big pharma?

I’m not suggesting boycotting Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s documentary – many people will need to see it – but I continue to remain selective on my news sources.

Matt Mernagh
Matt Mernagh

Matt Mernagh is author of Marijuana Smoker's Guidebook The Easy Way To Identify and Enjoy Marijuana Strains ( by Green Candy Press and hosts a weekly weedy webcast The Menahuana Zone on Pot.TV every Tuesday. The Mernagh Ruling is a test case of Canada's cannabis laws and was spearheaded by Mernagh, lawyer Paul Lewin and 22 witnesses from across Canada.


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