CNN Turns 40

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CNN launched on June 1, 1980, ushering the era of the 24-hour cable news cycle and significantly shifting the media landscape. The Onion looks back at key moments in CNN’s 40-year history.

June 1, 1980: First-ever CNN broadcast watched by half dozen bored people in airport.


January 1, 1982: CNN2 launches to focus on classic rock news.

June 3, 1985: Producers wisely gamble on long-lasting sexual appeal of Larry King.


January 28, 1986: Live reporting on Challenger launch so terrible it causes shuttle to explode.

October 16, 1987: Producers offer Baby Jessica’s parents $1 million to put her back in the well and let coverage continue.


August 30, 1995: Launches first 24-hour website.

September 11, 2001: Cha-ching! Ratings gold, baby!

February 2, 2003: Inks lucrative contract with George W. Bush administration to produce sequel to its wildly successful 1991 Gulf War series.


June 1, 2008: Fareed Zakaria shows up behind newsdesk, points to cameraman who starts filming him, and suddenly has show for next decade.

August 14, 2016: CNN forced to hire extra accountants to handle rising profits from Trump campaign coverage.