By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – This past Tuesday night was a historic one for CNN, the iconic cable news channel that’s been staking out the center of the mainstream broadcast news media for 32 years.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

But the history CNN made wasn’t good news, if you’ll pardon the expression.

The lynchpin of the network’s prime-time lineup, “Piers Morgan Tonight,” didn’t do very well in the ratings. In fact, in the crucial demographic of viewers aged 25 to 54, good old Piers drew only 39,000 viewers, the lowest rating in that demographic and time slot CNN has had in 15 years.

There were mitigating circumstances.

The broadcast networks had blockbuster shows up against them. And Morgan’s guests, Jane Lynch from the TV show “Glee” and Ted Williams, the homeless man with the golden voice whose comeback from poverty was big news a couple of years ago, weren’t exactly big draws.

But CNN has been lagging in the ratings for some time now, not just with the unfortunate Mr. Morgan. Fox News and MSNBC regularly beat CNN like a drum.

And I want to know if that means people no longer care to have their news delivered straight down the middle?

I’m sure CNN has its lapses into bias, but for the most part they do try to play it straight, even emphasizing one of my least favorite formats, the he-said she-said battle of the dueling partisans.

By contrast, MSNBC and Fox take political bias to a whole new level, unabashedly so.

And more and more I see in my travels and my e-mail the signs of people who have completely tuned out diverse points of view, and just want their pre-conceived notions reinforced by whatever they’re watching.

It’s gotten so bad, I question whether the two sides are even listening to each other at all anymore, while we lapse into a political culture of near-permanent standoff.

I suspect most of you are here because that is precisely what you don’t want, and if true, that’s encouraging.

Because the less we listen, and challenge ourselves, the more intellectually lazy and politically calcified we are doomed to become.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.


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