Cable News Network, more commonly known as CNN, is the first of the full-time American cable news networks. In fact, it was one of the first cable networks, period. Founded on June 1, 1980 by Atlanta-based media mogul Ted Turner, CNN is now a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Discovery (the owners of the Warner Bros. movie studio) and the world's second largest network (behind The BBC).
When not reporting breaking news, CNN mostly features a plethora of talking heads, discussing the ramifications of said news. In the past, people have disputed whether the network was unfairly biased toward Democrats or Republicans, but it did become markedly opinionated against President Donald Trump during his time in office, particularly anchor Don Lemon, who flat out called him "the worst of the worst". Some (particularly Jon Stewart on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart) have accused it of putting a fast-paced feel with an overabundance of Yet Another Baby Panda stories above serious discussion and investigative journalism.
Around the late 2000's and the early 2010's, to differentiate itself from its partisan rivals, CNN downplayed its ideologically charged, pundit-focused talk shows in favor of (allegedly) more sober reporting. This is best evidenced by the way that it cancelled the talk show Lou Dobbs Tonight, which many people feel is the result of the controversy that the show had been garnering in recent years due to Dobbs' outspoken views regarding immigration, President Barack Obama's citizenship, and the supposed "North American Union". However, some of their straight news hosts have been accused of bias.
After Lou Dobbs left, CNN's lineup began transforming into a revolving door: Campbell Brown resigned, Rick Sanchez (who hosted Rick's List, a Web 2.0 news program that used to just be an average hour of Newsroom) was fired after controversial remarks on a radio show, State of the Union got downsized so John King could host a new weekday show, Eliot Parker left Parker Spitzer (which got downgraded to In the Arena before it got canned), Larry King retired (and was replaced by Piers Morgan, who would become a wildly controversial member of the team and develop an infamous feud with Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson), American Morning was split into Early Start and Starting Point, and John King's show got cancelled in favor of Erin Burnett. The changes led to some of CNN's worst ratings in years.
In 2013, Jeff Zucker, who formerly worked for NBCUniversal, took over as the new network president. It only took him a few months before he began making major changes: Chris Cuomo was snatched from ABC to host the new morning show New Day with Kate Bolduan, Jake Tapper got a new afternoon show in mid-March, plans for a new 10:00 pm ET show were revealed, and their classic debate show Crossfire got Un-Cancelled. Zucker also brought back the "classic" ticker, and after years of "generic local news announcer guy", brought back James Earl Jones and his famous Station Ident (alongside variants featuring various personalities).
All that said, CNN is still home to some genuinely awesome news reporting; Anderson Cooper, who won a Peabody Award for his coverage of Hurricane Katrina and is generally famous for being an Intrepid Reporter with a penchant for fair, honest, hard-hitting coverage from all corners of the globe, has been broadcasting in the 8pm slot with Anderson Cooper 360 since 2003, and British-Iranian journalist Christiane Amanpour is a household name in foreign affairs correspondence who is respected by government officials and world leaders all around the globe. Recently, Jake Tapper has been gaining traction for his honest yet snarky reporting, no-hand-holding interviews, and has even been responsible for massive news with his State Of The Union show.
In 2021, CNN announced that it would launch CNN+, a streaming service which would offer 12 hours of content as well as original series and titles from CNN's catalogue. However, Zucker departed CNN in February of 2022 and was replaced with Chris Licht. CNN+ was later launched on March 29 to mixed reviews and caused it to be shuttered the following month. Later during August of that same year, Discovery+ began adding CNN Originals to the service. This also led to Magnolia Network originals joining HBO Max that same month.Trope Namer/inspiration for Alphabet News Network.
The channel has a number of spinoffs and international versions:
- HLN. Launched on January 1, 1982 as CNN2, it was rebranded as Headline News on August 9 the same year, before taking its current name on December 15, 2008. Originally, it aired just that; every half hour would start with the top stories, followed by business stories. At 15 minutes they would quickly recap the top stories then cover sports, and at 25 minutes they would have a short human interest piece. Then it would start over again. Starting in 2005, however, it began to suffer from Network Decay, catering to news/current affairs talk shows (during primetime and late night/early morning hours), pop culture/celebrity reporting, live court cases, and Missing White Woman Syndrome.
- CNN International. Launched in September 1985, it targets viewers outside the United States (although a few systems air it in America), and has a reputation for featuring more news and fewer talking heads. Also, in contrast to the American original, it has the tagline Go without borders to emphasize its global views. It is the second most-watched news network in the world, behind BBC World News, its main competitor. Although mainly basing itself in Atlanta like the main channel, it also has offices in London, Hong Kong, Mumbai, and Abu Dhabi. The channel is technically made up of five different variants (Asia-Pacific, Europe/Middle East/Africa, Latin America, North America, and South Asia), each of which used to feature unique programs, but since the mid-2000s, the variants have been streamlined, and the only remaining differences are programs inserted during breaks, such as weather report.
- CNNj. Launched on March 1, 2003, it is a version of CNN International Asia-Pacific specifically tailored for Japanese viewers. While other regions receive programs in untranslated English, CNNj's programs are provided Japanese subtitles by Japan Cable Television (a company partly owned by TV Asahi) for 17 hours every day.
- CNN en Español. Launched on March 19, 1997, it is a Spanish-language channel focusing on Latin American news, though it is also seen in Spain. It is based in Atlanta, like its parent channel.
- CNN Türk. Launched on October 11, 1999, it is the Turkish version of CNN. Notable for being CNN's first foreign version (it is based in İstanbul), and for being the first Turkish TV channel to be established in partnership with a foreign media company.
- CNN-News18. Launched on December 18, 2005 under the name CNN-IBN, it is the Indian version of CNN. It is based in New Delhi.
- CNN Chile. Launched on December 4, 2008, it is the Chilean version of CNN. It is based in Santiago.
- CNN Philippines. Launched on March 16, 2015, it is the Filipino version of CNN. It is based in Mandaluyong, located in Metro Manila.
- CNN Indonesia. Launched on December 15, 2015, it is the Indonesian version of CNN. It is based in Jakarta.
- CNN Brasil. Launched on March 15, 2020, it is the Brazilian version of CNN. It is based in São Paulo.
- CNN Prima News. Launched on May 3, 2020, it is the Czech version of CNN. It is based in Prague.
- CNN Portugal. Launched on November 22, 2021, making it the network's newest foreign spinoff, it is the Portuguese version of CNN. It is based in Lisbon.
Former spinoffs include:
- CNN Airport. Launched on January 20, 1992 as CNN Airport Network, it is a version of CNN seen only in airports, which showed mostly CNN rebroadcasts and looping weather and flight delay forecasts, but specifically removes all mention of stories such as plane crashes or other events which might make wary travelers panic before they get onto a plane, along with stories that shouldn't be shown on a public channel with children around; when this happens, they quickly cut to a weather map. Thanks in large part to the fact that you can now simply get the same information on your mobile phone, CNN Airport Network was discontinued on March 31, 2021.
- CNN Checkout Channel. Launched on February 20, 1992 as a version of the Airport Network, it targeted at grocery stores. It was not successful, only lasting a year before going off the air on March 31, 1993.
- CNNfn. Launched on November 29, 1995, it is their answer to CNBC. After years of struggling for an audience and cable coverage, it went off the air on December 15, 2004.
- CNN Sports Illustrated or CNNSI. Launched on December 12, 1996, it was their answer to ESPN's SportsCenter, which had the misfortune of coming into being around the same time as ESPNEWS (which was created as a Take That! move by ESPN against their competition). It went off the air on May 15, 2002.
- CNN+ (channel). Launched on January 27, 1999, it is a Spanish-language channel for Spain which went off the air on December 28, 2010.
- CNN Italia. Launched on November 15, 1999, it is the Italian version of CNN. It went off the air on September 12, 2003.
- CNN+ (streaming service). Not to be confused with the defunct TV channel, it was CNN's venture into the streaming war. Launched on March 29, 2022 as the brainchild of former President Jeff Zucker, it ended up being canned just a month after launch, reportedly because of Zucker's exit, lower-than-expected subscription numbers, and changing creative views with the merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery Inc. into Warner Bros. Discovery. That made it the shortest lived of all streaming services, surpassing the ill-fated Quibi which went under in seven months after its launch in April 2020. What remains of CNN+ are expected to be folded into Warner Bros. Discovery's upcoming super-streaming service (a merger of HBO Max and Discovery+).