Today's New York Times takes on the problem of Larry King. Specifically, the problem that no one is watching him. But that's not just Larry King's problem! His whole network has that problem. Because it is awful.

The Times' Brian Stelter writes that King

has come to embody an enormous problem facing the cable news channel. How can he and CNN compete in prime time when viewers seem to crave partisan political programs and when prominent guests—the lifeblood of Mr. King's show—would rather burnish their images on other channels?

This is the conventional wisdom on CNN: It's the third-place network because it tries to hew to a rigid model of objectivity and refuses to engage in the partisan flag-waving that defines MSNBC and Fox News. It's not a bad theory, really! CNN's compulsive objectivity can be insanely grating. But maybe there is another reason that CNN is hemorrhaging viewers: Because it utterly sucks.

Look: CNN has spent the last decade hiring obnoxious, self-important idiots like Rick Sanchez as news personalities. It's given the barely-competent Wolf Blitzer charge of the worst show on television, The Room of Situations, a two-hour variety program whose main attraction is the opportunity it provides to see what it would be like if a child were allowed to anchor the news. In the latest in a string of bizarre hiring decisions, Erick Erickson, of the blog RedState, has been hired as part of CNN's "political team," where he will provide absolutely nothing of substance, and be unfunny to boot.

Worse, the network as a whole has grown an unhealthy obsession with "social media," a phenomenon no doubt being pushed by some disgusting executive who read about Twitter in some sickening business publication and decided that the best way to complement the idiot reporting of CNN's idiot hosts was to solicit the somehow less-informed opinions of the Tweeting masses. The social media addiction is attended to, constantly, on comically large screens, which are otherwise used to present useless data in incomprehensible ways, for reasons that are never clear but seem to largely be grounded in a desire to show off the touch-screen technology the network likely spent far too much money on.

Meanwhile, it keeps losing vaguely credible correspondents and hosts like Christiane Amanpour and Michael Ware. Candy Crowley, one of a handful of halfway intelligent people allowed on camera anymore, had to lose weight and wait for simpleton hack John King to move on—to a show titled, no joke, John King, U.S.A.—before she was allowed to host their flagship Sunday talk show. None of this makes CNN look more "hip" or "impartial" or "important." It makes CNN look more "stupid" or "useless" or "inept."

Who knows: Maybe it is the "objectivity" problem! After all, as we're reminded again and again, by CNN, it's still the network we turn to when big stories are breaking. But how can we tell, until they're actually putting out a quality product, and still getting stomped by Fox and MSNBC? I mean: Maybe they could be both the breaking news network and the everyday network if they stopped sucking so goddamn much?

They'll still have to fire Larry King, though.

[NYT; pic via Getty]