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In The Fortune Tellers (Simon & Schuster, 2000), Howard Kurtz gets former CNN Business News Executive VP Jeff Gralnick's take on CNN's woes in business coverage: The reason for Moneyline's rating decline, Gralnick felt, had nothing to do with Stuart Varney and Willow Bay or the quality of the program, which he fervently believed was far better than that of Business Center.

The problem was that CNBC had established itself in the public mind as the place to turn for business news. The fact that CNBC was beating CNN during the day was a huge watershed. Even his favorite blue-collar bar near his home in Connecticut had one set tuned to ESPN and the other to CNBC.

When CNN aired stock market news during the day, Gralnick believed, it seemed like an alien presence, serving mainly to remind viewers that they should be watching CNBC..They were getting killed day after day, Gralnick felt, because they had failed to recognize that CNBC had become the dominant brand in financial news.

Reprinted by arrangement with The Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster Inc.

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