CNN’s ratings drop in one week has caused the TV network to shut down, a false story on Facebook said.
"CNN to permanently close its doors as ratings plunge 30 percent," said a May 18 headline on Your News Wire.
Facebook flagged this story as part of its efforts to combat false news and misinformation on Facebook's News Feed. You can read more about our partnership with Facebook here.
Your News Wire used real data from Ad Week to show a 29 percent primetime rating drop during the second week of May compared to the same week last year. Then the story declared that as a result of the "nosedive" in ratings "the failing news network may be about to come to an abrupt end."
The story included a photo of what appears to be a CNN studio going up in flames but had no evidence that the network has shut down or plans to do so.
CNN spokespersons didn’t respond to emails seeking comment.
While a ratings drop or spike by a network can be used by networks to boast about their position, ratings for a short period of time don’t reveal much about a network’s viability. Networks sell ads on longer-term data, so a drop in ratings over a couple of weeks may not mean much. Ratings also must be examined based on news events during the time period in question -- it's built into the business model that some news weeks are slower than others.
For example, during the week of May 8-14, 2017, President Donald Trump fired FBI director James Comey and former acting Attorney General Sally Yates testified to a Senate panel about Michael Flynn, a former Trump adviser, in the Russia saga.
The idea that CNN would shut down is a bit of a fantasy for conservatives who share Trump’s allegation that the network is "fake news."
While Trump uses the term "fake news" to describe news coverage that is unsympathetic to his administration and his performance, at PolitiFact we refer to fake news as fabricated content that intentionally masquerades as news coverage of actual events. Statements by Trump have been named PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year award twice.
Your News Wire said in a headline "CNN to permanently close its doors as ratings plunge 30 percent." While the ratings drop during the second week of May compared to a year ago is real, the conclusion that CNN is going out of business is nonsense. We rate this statement False.