Fox News Suffers Worst Ratings In Thirteen Years – And That’s Not Their Big Problem

Fox News has fallen and it can’t get up. Ratings for the month of May 2014, have just been published, and the numbers are devastating for Fox News. While still occupying the top slot among the cable news networks, Fox saw about a quarter of its audience dissolve across every demographic group and time period.

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Every Fox program in primetime dropped by double-digits, with Bill O’Reilly taking the deepest dive. Sean Hannity posted some of his lowest numbers ever in his new 10:00 pm time slot. And Megyn Kelly’s new, and highly anticipated, primetime show failed to improve on the ratings performance of her predecessor.

To be sure, Fox was not the only network to see declines. In fact, CNN had an even larger dip. The news was much better for MSNBC who was down the least of all the cable news networks. They lost a relatively insignificant five percent of total viewers, but actually saw increases for Morning Joe, and for Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow in primetime.

For Fox to post numbers that they haven’t seen since August of 2001 (before 9/11) is a painful blow to both their reputation and their bank account. But they have even bigger problems. The viewers that do tune in to Fox are significantly older than viewers of their competitors. Fox News has always had the oldest skewing audience in cable news. With a median age of 68.8 years, Fox’s audience is over six years older than either CNN or MSNBC. It’s even worse for their top rated program (O’Reilly) who’s average viewer is over 72 years old. And their Great Blonde Hope (Kelly), who was specifically brought in to draw younger viewers, also exceeded Fox’s average with her typical viewer voyeur being over 70.

An analysis of the audience composition for the three cable news networks shows that, of Fox’s total audience, a pitiful 20% are in the 25-54 age group favored by advertisers. It’s even worse for their primetime schedule where only 15% fall into that group. That compares to CNN with 30%/35% respectively, and MSNBC with 31%/28%. In other words, CNN and MSNBC draw 50% more total viewers in the younger demos, and they double Fox’s ratio in primetime.

This makes it all the more curious that Fox News is barreling forward with a strategy to viciously insult their biggest viewer bloc. Recently, Fox regular Karl Rove launched an attack on Hillary Clinton with vile inferences that she is “old and stale” or perhaps brain damaged. Expressing such open contempt and belittling of the capacity for older persons to be effective leaders is not a particularly sound way to ingratiate oneself with the senior citizens that make up the bulk of ones audience.

Apparently Fox is not satisfied with alienating African-Americans and Latinos and women and youth and the middle-class and workers and, of course, most of America’s liberals and moderates. Now they are aiming to narrow their appeal even more by driving away the last remnants of their audience – senior citizens. Keep up the good work, Fox.

Rachel Maddow Beats Fox News – Again

For the second time this year, Rachel Maddow pulled off a weekly ratings win against Fox News in the critical 25-54 demographic that advertisers prefer.

maddow-3x

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MSNBC has been enjoying a bit of boost with daily breaking coverage of Chris Christie’s BridgeGate scandal. And thanks to Christie’s determination to impede the investigation the story just keeps getting prolonged which, of course, provides more opportunities for MSNBC to rake in the ratings.

Rachel Maddow is one of the prime beneficiaries of this situation. She was the first cable newsie to report on Christie’s bullying tactics and she has consistently broken new developments. As result she is seeing her ratings spike significantly.

Megyn KellyMaking this even more significant is the fact that Maddow is beating Megyn Kelly, who was promoted to her prime time slot specifically to try to capture more of the younger audience that Maddow is drawing. For her to have another weekly win so soon may be a warning flag that Kelly isn’t appealing to the audience that Fox intended. In fact, Kelly may just be exacerbating Fox’s older skewing, predominantly male audience who tune in for the titillation that Fox deliberately exploits.

In addition to Maddow’s numbers, Chris Matthews has also been bumped up. He beat his Fox competition, Greta Van Susteren, for the week as well. It is clear that having substantive reporting that viewers find valuable is the most effective way of building an audience. And MSNBC should strive to more of that. Or they could try the Fox model of just making shit up that feeds the prejudices of low-information viewers. That seems to work too.

Wrong Again! Bill O’Reilly’s State Of The Union Prediction Fails

The biggest ego on cable news is fond of propping himself up and exalting his intellect and insight. Unfortunately, Bill O’Reilly is so often wrong that he becomes a parody of himself.

Bill O'Reilly

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On his program Monday night, O’Reilly embarked on a mission to belittle President Obama and the State of the Union speech that would be delivered the following night. Consistent with the Fox News philosophy of disparaging all things Democratic – even before they occur – O’Reilly asserted that the American people wouldn’t care about the speech, but would be enthralled by Papa Bear himself.

O’Reilly: There is no question that President Obama’s first five years in office have been troubled. Tonight he will try to regroup, but Talking Points believes that few Americans will be paying close attention to him. In fact, I predict that this broadcast you’re watching right now, will be higher rated on the Fox News channel than the president’s actual address. We’ll see.

Yes, we shall indeed see. But first of all, isn’t it cute that O’Reilly refers to himself as “Talking Points,” as if it were an anthropomorphic entity with opinions separate from his own? Well, Mr. Talking Points might be disconcerted to learn that 33 million people watched the State of the Union speech. That is actually fewer than watched in recent years, but still a hefty chunk of viewers that exceeds all other conventional programming.

More to the point, O’Reilly’s prediction that his own show would outperform the speech has blown up in his face. The Factor drew only 3.5 million viewers, which means he was off by a mere 90 percent. O’Reilly’s broadcast didn’t even beat just the viewers who watched the speech on Fox (4.7 million). And since there was no rational way to spin his prognostication failure, O’Reilly simply ignored it last night in his first post-speech broadcast.

This is typical of O’Reilly’s pompous conceit as he strives to present himself as an omnipotent and infallible observer of human events. It recalls his dreadfully wrong prediction that the Supreme Court would overturn ObamaCare, when he promised to admit that he was an idiot if he were wrong. He was wrong, and he broke his promise. But that came as no surprise to those who pay attention to his daily blather.

Christie’s Bridge-Gate Scandal Boosts Rachel Maddow To Ratings Victory Over Fox News

Rachel Maddow

The dominance of Fox News in the Nielsen ratings for cable networks has not been seriously challenged for most of the past several years. There have been periods that looked promising for the competition, particularly the months between the Democratic National Convention and the presidential election in 2012. During that time MSNBC was beating Fox on a regular basis as President Obama was doing the same to Mitt Romney. That trend was still in effect as late as January of 2013 when Fox reported steep declines in the key 25-54 demographic, while MSNBC shot upward.

Fox-MSNBC Ratings

However, that state of affairs did not hold as the nation settled into a new year with the excitement of electioneering behind them. There would be little drama in the ratings race for the next few months. Eventually, Fox would enjoy a rebound as they ramped up their coverage of various scandals that they had been carefully crafting with their Republican allies. But even then they were suffering losses of the younger viewers that advertisers favor.

Last week, however, saw an unexpected bounce for MSNBC, and particularly Rachel Maddow. Her ratings in the demo thrust her into the number one spot for the whole week, ahead of Fox’s newly minted prime time star Megyn Kelly. Chris Matthews also benefited by tying the week with Greta Van Susteren, and Lawrence O’Donnell scored clean victories over Sean Hannity on a couple of days. This turnaround was surprising during a post-holiday lull, but there is a possible reason for it.

Maddow and her colleagues may have Chris Christie to thank for their ratings success. Their rising fortunes began at the same time that Maddow broke the story of the George Washington Bridge tantrum thrown by the Christie camp as political payback to unsupportive Democrats.

Let’s face it…Scandals have the same power to drive ratings in political news as they do in soap operas. The last ratings spike that Maddow enjoyed was when a video of Romney appeared showing him casting aside 47% of the American electorate as lazy moochers. And, as mentioned above, Fox exploited their own scandal sheet last may to recover from a long slump.

What this tells us is that, in order for MSNBC to consistently rise above Fox, they need to have as effective a scandal factory as Fox has. That’s a tall order because Fox has big head start in manufacturing fake scandals and the phony outrage that accompanies them. And for a network like MSNBC that has yet to exhibit much of an aptitude for inventing controversies that don’t exist in reality, they have some catching up to do.

Of course, Republicans have been more than generous in producing scandals for themselves, as the Christie affair so clearly demonstrates. The problem is that the so-called liberal media has not been especially good at taking advantage of the opportunities that were laid in their lap. But if MSNBC or CNN want to seriously challenge Fox’s ratings dominance, they had better show some improvement in that area in the future.

Rachel Maddow Whomps Megyn Kelly’s Premiere On Fox News

Last night Fox News debuted a new primetime lineup. It was the first time they had altered their schedule in more than a decade. They heavily promoted the changes and the new hosts for weeks. And on the the big night, when most new programs enjoy a ratings bump due to viewers sampling the new fare, Fox News did not get what they must have been expecting.

The top billing for the night went to Megyn Kelly, whose “Kelly File” has been eagerly anticipated by Foxophiles and received massive PR in advance of the debut. Unfortunately for her, she came in second to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow in the key 25-54 year old demographic.

Rachel Maddow
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It would be bad enough for a Fox host to lose to an MSNBC show under ordinary circumstances, but to trail on the one night that ought to have been a runaway victory is a major embarrassment for Kelly and Fox. There were no extenuating circumstances that might have contributed to an unexpected win for Maddow. For instance, she did not have an exclusive interview with President Obama wherein he announced that he really was born in Kenya after all. And Kelly’s show had booked the GOP flavor of the week, Sen. Ted Cruz (TX-Tea Party), as her first guest, so she ought to have been well positioned to draw in the Fox fanatics in bulk. But it was not to be.

What’s more, Greta Van Susteren, who had moved from 10:00pm to 7:00pm, lost to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. And Sean Hannity, who lost his 9:00pm slot to Kelly and took over the 10:00pm time that Van Susteren vacated, could only manage a tie with MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell. The only win for Fox the whole night was by their perennial top dog, Bill O’Reilly, who bested Chris Hayes, the newest MSNBC host who has yet to find an audience.

These dismal performances by Fox programs are all the worse because the network had poured so much money and promotional muscle into the evening. It was their intent to inject new blood into the schedule in order to attract the younger, advertiser-favored demos that have avoided Fox like the plague. That goal was clearly not met – at least on the debut. And just to rub it in, MSNBC achieved their ratings victories with the same old shows they’ve had on for years and no extra promotion.

Rest assured that Fox programming executives are already huddling to figure out what went wrong and how to correct it. Kelly and the others may yet return to their perches atop the ratings tree. But they will still have little influence over the broader television audience who recognize Fox for what it is: the PR division of the Republican Party and the Tea Party cheerleading squad. Remember, Fox’s top rated programs only reach 1% of the American people, and the garbage that they ingest (see Fox Nation vs. Reality) just makes them ignorant, ineffectual, and filled with ghastly surprise when they lose elections.

[Follow Up: 10/27/2013] It is now three weeks since this article was published and I still get commenters giddily noting that Kelly’s ratings improved on subsequent nights. SO F**KING WHAT? This article is about the premiere episode and it even notes that her ratings may improve later. These FoxPods just can’t seem to focus on single topic.

Media Warning Signs For The Grand Old White Republican Tea Party

The Nielsen ratings for July are coming out soon and there are developing trends in television viewing that portend problems for Republicans. Variety is reporting that…

“Univision is on pace to end the July sweeps in the numero uno spot, a milestone for the U.S. Hispanic network. Market leader expects to dominate July sweeps primetime among both Adults 18-49 and Adults 18-34 demos, in broadcast or cable.”

To be clear, this is not a ratings win among Hispanic networks or a particular genre of programming. It is the top spot for all television programming in the most important audience demographics. They beat ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX.

GOP Rebranding
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The political significance of this victory is that it affirms the growth of the Latino market, which has already been recognized as the fastest growing segment of the electorate. After the GOP’s dismal showing among Latinos in last November’s election (Romney drew only 27%), the party made a very public case for examining what went wrong, producing a thick document they called an “autopsy.” They concluded that the party “must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform. If we do not, our Party’s appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only.”

Fast forward to July 2013. The Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill with the votes of every Democrat, but only 14 Republicans. And now the bill sits dormant in the House where the Republican leadership refuses to bring it up for a vote. Many Republicans are openly hostile to immigration reform and have vowed to obstruct any attempt to advance it. Additionally, Republicans back voter suppression schemes that negatively impact Hispanic citizens. They also oppose the Dream Act that allows certain undocumented residents to remain in the country if they were brought here as children, have no criminal record, and are enrolled in either school or the military.

So despite recognition that the Republican Party’s viability in the future depends on broadening their base and appealing to Hispanics, they are doing virtually everything they can think of to alienate and insult the Latino community.

Another segment of the electorate that the GOP has had problems with are young voters. President Obama got a whopping 67% of the youth vote last November. Some of the issues that are important to this demographic include marriage equality, gun safety, tax fairness, health care, student loan interest rates, ballot access, and reproductive rights. These are all issues that the GOP polls poorly on among young constituents. Their autopsy noted that many respondents viewed the GOP as the party of “stuffy old men,” and acknowledged that “If our Party is not welcoming and inclusive, young people and increasingly other voters will continue to tune us out.”

Back to the present, we see that Republicans have done virtually nothing to avert the catastrophes they themselves predicted. And another signal in the media illustrates just how far afield they are in addressing the concerns of young citizens. The New York Times reports that Fox News, the PR arm of the GOP, is increasingly an island of far-right, senior citizens:

“[F]or six of the last eight years, Fox News has had a median age of 65-plus and the number of viewers in the 25-54 year old group has been falling consistently, down five years in a row in prime time.”

This represents the highest median age of any television network. Hence all the ads for Cialis, reverse mortgages, and the Scooter Store. Fox also has the widest disparity between viewers 18-34 and those 25-54. MSNBC, which has been slumping lately, still manages to grab the top spot for for viewers 18-34 in primetime.

Republicans, and their preferred media, are bleeding supporters in key groups that they have already conceded are essential for future victories. Hispanics, youth, African-Americans, and women, are all growing constituencies. But they are being left behind by an increasingly extremist and narrow Republican Party that is only responsive to older, white, Tea Partiers.

While this trend surely portends trouble for the GOP, it is an opportunity for Democrats to show some real leadership and embrace the diversity for which the party is known. Democrats have an uphill battle in 2014 due to gerrymandered redistricting by the GOP. They have to outperform Republicans by 7% just to stay competitive. Consequently, now would be the time to start shoring up support for the faster growing and more populous voter groups that show the most promise for electoral gains. Let the GOP have have the white, senior wingnuts. After all, it’s all they have left.

Fox News Ratings: Fanning The Flames Of Scandal Pays Off – Sort Of

If you’ve ever wondered what Fox News gets out of its frenzied pursuit of controversy, look no further than the Nielsen ratings for the month of May 2013.

For Fox News 2013 began by delivering the network its worst numbers in twelve years. They saw their top programs losing viewers with double digit percentages. Bill O’Reilly dropped 25%, and Sean Hannity declined 19%. This occurred while their competition, Ed Schultz and Rachel Maddow, increased their audiences by 23% and 32% respectively. It was dismal performance for Fox and omen of bad times to come.

A few months later, Fox has seen a noticeable bounce that will surely brighten their mood. The recovery can be entirely attributed to the bucket of scandals they have been serving up to their bloodthirsty, Obama-hating disciples. Nothing inspires wingnut viewer loyalty like the catastrophic misfortune of one’s enemies.

The numbers for May find Fox up 24% overall compared to the same period in 2012. While that may appear to be good news, there are hazards lurking in the ratings weeds. Take a look at this chart that contrasts Fox’s primetime total audience with their weak reach among the more highly valued 25-54 year old age group.

Fox News Ratings
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The month of May was heavily weighted down by melodramatic news events that would appeal to Fox’s native audience. There would not likely be any migration to or from other networks during this time. CNN also benefited from the hard news orientation that is their area of expertise. Not surprisingly, MSNBC, who has soared in recent months, slowed down during this period due to their narrow focus on politics at a time when viewers were seeking out hard news. Even HLN had a solid month due to the various courtroom dramas that were playing out (Arias, Gosnell, etc.).

What is particularly striking though, is that Fox would produce such large gains overall and still decline substantially in the younger demos that advertisers favor. This is further evidence that Fox’s audience is graying at a rapid rate. This means that they will earn far less for their ad time than their competitors who attract a larger share of the demo audience. It also means that they will suffer over time as audiences age.

However, it is inescapable that Fox’s obsession with hyperbolic attacks on President Obama and his administration is not resonating with younger viewers. Fox is repeating the mistakes they committed last year by harping on wild conspiracies, extreme rightist rhetoric, and fantastical allegations for which they have no support. That’s the sort of behavior that turned them into a laughing stock and produced an audience that was stunned when Republicans cratered at the ballot box. The same sort of shock is going to strike Fox viewers when these myriad scandals all peter out. Their gullible audience will once again wonder how Fox could have assured them that the Obama administration was near collapse, but nothing close to that takes place. If there is one constant that Fox is careful to maintain, it is their determination to mislead their flock by feeding them the fringe-flavored chum they crave.

The near future will likely be more of the same barring any unforeseen circumstances. There are no predictable events on the horizon (i.e. elections) that are likely to stir the pot. Although the currently simmering pseudo-scandals may still have a little heat in them, and the Supreme Court will be dropping some decisions this summer. Other than that, stay tuned to be underwhelmed, unless you’re Fox viewer. In which case — be afraid, be very afraid.

Cable News Viewers Are Getting Smarter – Dumping Fox News

In the first quarter of 2013 the trends for cable news viewership are affirming past performance. And once again, Fox News is losing viewers at a faster rate than its competitors.

Cable News Ratings

While remaining on top overall, Fox lost nearly 20% of its total audience as compared to the same period last year. Even worse, in the critical advertising demographic of 18-54 year olds, Fox scared off a full third of their viewers. Only MSNBC managed to stay relatively flat, holding onto most of their audience.

On specific programs, Fox’s top rated show, The O’Reilly Factor, dropped by 26%. His primetime colleagues, Sean Hannity and Greta Van Susteren, similarly flopped by 28% and 35% respectively. That contrasts sharply with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show that increased 5%, the only program in its time period to rise.

These numbers attest to the downward spiral that Fox has been experiencing since last year’s election. They recognized the serious disconnect between them and the public as they scrambled to make personnel changes and ditch some of their most alienating personalities. That overhaul saw the departure of Sarah Palin and Dick Morris, and it resulted in far fewer appearances by Karl Rove and Donald Trump.

Those adjustments do not seem to have turned the ebbing tide that saw Fox sink to its lowest point in twelve years in January. Which is not surprising since their window-dressing alterations simply exchanged their past losers with characters like Scott Brown, Erick Erickson, and Mark Levin, who seem unlikely to have a positive impact.

Furthermore, MSNBC’s steady performance is poised for future gains as demonstrated by the debut of All In with Chris Hayes. The new Hayes program improved on the numbers of the Ed Schultz Show that it replaced (+45% in the demo), and fell just 10,000 short of O’Reilly’s numbers. Also notable is that the younger demo for Hayes represents about a third of his total audience, while O’Reilly’s demo viewers are a mere 14% of his total. That certifies the strength MSNBC has with the next generation of news consumers, and the weariness of the long-in-the-tooth O’Reilly/Fox fans.

Hopefully this is evidence that America’s television viewers are evolving to become a more discriminating audience that values truth, integrity, and intelligent discourse. The Fox model of leading viewers around by the nose, misrepresenting the facts, and aiming for the shallowest, most inflammatory slapfights on the air, may be losing its appeal (except on the Fox Nation web site). That would be a positive step forward and proof that humans are advancing in the passage of time. Thanks, Darwin.

Fox News Hits Record Low In Viewer Trust (Just Like Their Ratings)

Public Policy Polling just released their 4th annual poll on the measure of trust Americans have in TV news. Like previous polls, Fox News topped both the “most trusted” and “least trusted” categories. However, the striking thing about this year’s poll is that Fox dipped to a record low in viewer trust and lost a huge amount of the trust by Independents. From the poll:

“Fox News has hit a record low in the four years that we’ve been doing this poll. 41% of voters trust it to 46% who do not. To put those numbers into some perspective the first time we did this poll, in 2010, 49% of voters trusted it to 37% who did not. Fox has maintained most of its credibility with Republicans, dropping just from 74/15 to 70/15 over that period of time. But it’s been losing what standing it had with Democrats (from 30/52 to 22/66) and independents (from 41/44 to 32/56).

“We find once again this year that Democrats trust everything except Fox, and Republicans don’t trust anything other than Fox. Democrats put the most faith in PBS (+61 at 72/11), followed by NBC (+45 at 61/16), MSNBC (+39 at 58/19), CBS (+38 at 54/16), CNN (+36 at 57/21), ABC (+35 at 51/16), and Comedy Central (+10 at 38/28). Out of the non-Fox channels Republicans have the most faith in PBS at -21 (27/48), followed by NBC (-48 at 18/66), CNN (-49 at 17/66), ABC (-56 at 14/70), MSNBC (-56 at 12/68), CBS (-57 at 15/72), and Comedy Central (-58 at 8/66).

When it comes to asking Americans which single outlet they trust the most and least out of the ones we polled on, Fox News once again wins both honors. 34% say it’s the one they trust the most, compared to 13% for PBS, 12% for CNN, 11% for ABC, 8% for MSNBC, 6% for CBS, and 5% each for Comedy Central and NBC. Fox News is the choice of 67% of Republicans, while Democrats basically split their allegiances four ways between ABC and CNN, both at 17%, and MSNBC and PBS, both at 16%.”

Even more Americans identify Fox News as the outlet they trust the least – 39% give it that designation [compared] to 14% for MSNBC, 13% for CNN, 12% for Comedy Central, 5% for ABC and CBS, 3% for NBC, and 1% for PBS. 60% of Democrats give it their lowest marks while Republicans split between MSNBC (24%), CNN (19%), and Comedy Central (14%) on that front.

The fact that Fox comes out on top of the “most trusted” list is not particularly noteworthy. That only occurred because Fox viewers voted en bloc for their favorite network while all other viewers split their votes across the board. Liberals are not as hypnotically attached to any single source of news as are the disciples of Fox. It is far more significant that Fox has a net negative rating despite the glassy-eyed devotion of their audience. Also significant is the fact that the combined non-Fox networks beat Fox for trustworthiness by 60% to 34%. Finally, the sharply downward trend has to have Fox worried.

This massive leak of faith in Fox is accompanied by their corresponding unpopularity as measured by their Nielsen ratings. The most recent numbers showed Fox dropping to a twelve year low, which puts them back at their position prior to 9/11.

Fox News Ratings

The collapse of Fox is also occurring at a time when their competition at MSNBC is enjoying double-digit gains. The trends have all been severely negative as far as Fox is concerned, and this new poll affirms that direction.

Fox seems to be aware of the danger they are in and have been making some adjustments to their roster. They already flushed Sarah Palin and Dick Morris down the drain. However, they do not appear to be shifting their tone in any noticeable manner. Those expulsions were counteracted by the acquisition of far-right crackpots like Erick Erickson and screeching extremists like Mark Levin.

Consequently, there won’t be any real difference in the faulty news product that Fox broadcasts. They seem wedded to the ultra-conservative fringe philosophy that is bringing them, and their benefactors in the GOP, crashing down. They are operating with an acute case of tunnel blindness that is driving viewers away. And for that, I suppose, we should all be grateful.

Fox News Ravaged By Free Market As Viewers Flee, Primetime Ratings Dive To Pre-9/11 Lows

Continuing a downward spiral that began last September during the Democratic National Convention, Fox News primetime ratings, in the key 25-54 year old demographic, have declined to numbers they haven’t seen since August of 2001. These are numbers that revert Fox back to the George Bush, pre-9/11 era when Fox was struggling for attention.

Cable News Ratings

9/11 was an integral part of the rise of Fox News. It was the catalyst that formed their America-first persona and thrust them into a role as cheerleaders rather than journalists.

These twelve year lows for their best known programs portend trouble for Fox as their audience tires of a schedule that hasn’t changed in more than a decade. Creaky old timers O’Reilly and Hannity have been in their time slots since the network launched in 1996. Worse yet for Fox, their slump is occurring at a time when MSNBC is soaring. For most of the time since last November’s election, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell have been beating Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity in the demo. In addition to those victories, most of MSNBC’s programs are the top performers among 18-34 year olds, which means that they have a significant advantage with the next generation of television news consumers. MSNBC is also number one with African-American viewers, a status they have enjoyed for 36 consecutive months.

The graying Fox News is a phenomenon that is occurring with both their programs and their audience. While many of Fox’s shows held steady in total audience, they plunged in the younger demos. This was true across the board with primetime and all other dayparts, including their three hour morning block, Fox & Friends. Conversely, MSNBC’s audience was up in both the demo and total audience. The ratings story for MSNBC is no longer merely one of faster growth and higher percentage gains. They are now beating their Fox competition head-on in primetime and challenging them respectably in daytime.

For the most part it appears that MSNBC’s gains are coming from new, younger viewers. They certainly are not luring dissatisfied Fox viewers over to their channel. However, Fox now has to worry about a rebuilding CNN. Their new president Jeff Zucker is shaking up the roster with announcements of hirings and firings both in front of and behind the camera. Considering that the previous management at CNN was so inept and oblivious to the news marketplace, it is hard to believe that Zucker won’t produce some improvement. And with Fox viewers abandoning the network that has been lying to them so brazenly, CNN may start to look like a plausible alternative.

Of course, as the ratings race heats up, Fox may decide to stop standing around watching their lead disappear. They will need to take bold steps to keep up with the competition. While O’Reilly is still pulling in decent numbers, Hannity is ratings loser and an embarrassment in terms of credibility. He has to be the first to go. Greta Van Susteren’s claim to fame was as an O.J. Simpson groupie who has never risen out of the tabloid mold in which she was formed. Now that her best pal and frequent guest (55 times), Sarah Palin, has been dumped by Fox, Van Susteren would be wise to update her resume. The most likely candidate to fill one of those vacancies would be Megyn Kelly, who has emerged as Fox’s most stridently biased anchor in the daytime.

There are those at Fox who know that a big part of the explanation for their decline is that the audience at large is no longer interested in the vitriolic smear jobs that Fox has specialized in for most of the past decade. They just watched President Obama get reelected, along with Democratic gains in both houses of Congress, despite their fierce determination to kneecap the Democrats and prop up the flailing GOP. They did the best they could to install a Republican regime with a coordinated campaign of propaganda and hate speech, but they failed miserably even in races they were expected to win. So they are aware that the public has rejected their best arguments and lies.

The trick will be to moderate their political biases in order to appeal to a broader audience without causing their loyalist legions to pull up stakes and camp out on Alex Jones’ web site plotting a restoration of the Confederacy from their bunkers. Spurned conservative extremists of the sort that form the foundation of the Fox audience are a vengeful lot. They primary long-serving GOP incumbents and replace them with crackpots who have no chance of winning. And that’s the sort of reaction they would have to any attempt by Fox to become less wingnutty. The Fox regulars would not only stop watching a more moderate Fox, they would turn against it with the force of a swarm of rabid squirrels deranged by disease and paranoia.

That leaves Fox in the impossible position of having to cater to their faithful fringe while reaching out to more rational viewers. It simply can’t be done and they would displease both. The only sensible course for Fox would be to accept a few seasons in the cellar as they regroup with a focus on responsible journalism. But that isn’t the style of the hardcore rightists in the Fox executive suites. Neither Rupert Murdoch nor Roger Ailes would be inclined to surrender the platform they built for wealthy elitists, captains of industry, Christian evangelists, and other power mad egomaniacs who are convinced that God has selected them to rule.

The good news is that their self-centered intransigence will insure that Fox continues to slide into obscurity and the people will have a better opportunity shape a more equitable society. Of course, the people would still have to overcome the rest of the media-corporate-government complex that has long been the biggest obstacle to a truly democratic nation. But it’s a start.

Fox News Is The Biggest Ratings Loser On Inauguration Day

Monday’s presidential inauguration was a television event that was heavily promoted by all of the networks covering it. But one network was conspicuously short of viewers during President Obama’s speech and throughout the broadcast day.

While overall viewing was down for all three cable news networks compared to 2009’s inauguration, Fox took the deepest dive. CNN led during the President’s address with 3.1 million total viewers. MSNBC came in second with 2.3 million. Fox was dead last with 1.3 million. In the critical 25-54 year old demographic the numbers for Fox were even more dismal: CNN had 1.1 million in the demo. MSNBC had 706,000. Trailing significantly was Fox News with only 294,000, which was less than half of MSNBC and just over a quarter of CNN.

To some extent it is not surprising that the network that appeals most to Obama haters did not deliver their audience of whiny-ass sourpusses. It’s a constituency of sore losers who aren’t interested in staying informed and were probably busy cuddling their Bushmasters and forwarding chain emails about tyranny and the collapse of civilization.

What’s most startling in the ratings data is the relative disparities between the networks and their declines. Fox News was off a jaw-dropping 75% (82% demo) from 2009. CNN sunk a hefty 61% (67% demo). MSNBC, by comparison did fairly well with a mere 25% decline (37% demo). Digging deeper, these numbers tell us something that is even more foreboding for Fox. The percentage of their audience composed of the lucrative younger demos falls way below that of their competitors. CNN’s demo audience was 35% of their total viewers. MSNBC has 31% in the demo. But only 22% of Fox’s viewers are 25-54 years old.

Inauguration Ratings

That means that the next generation of news consumers is avoiding the severely conservative channel in droves. What’s more, MSNBC’s primetime anchors Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell were number one in their time slots for 2012 in the 18-34 demo. MSNBC has also led in African-American and Latino viewers. So by every measure MSNBC is positioned for future gains, while Fox is bracing for the bottom to fall out.

These numbers are not merely tabulated for bragging rights. They represent the potential for ad revenue. As the numbers fall, so do Fox’s profits. And with their dearth of the desirable youth demos, the advertising Fox maintains will command lower rates.

To top it off, Fox is actually advertising their own unpopularity. Today an article on Fox Nation beamed that “Viewership of Obama’s 2nd Inauguration Plunges.” It’s one of those rare occasions when Fox Nation posted something that was true.

Fox Nation

However, it is also true that the lion’s share of that plunge was the 75% of Fox viewers who tuned out. Apparently Fox is so intent on publicizing information that they believe reflects badly on the President that they didn’t even notice that it looks even worse for themselves. Well, nobody ever accused them of being brainiacs.

A Very Merry Christmas For MSNBC – A Very Unhappy Holiday For Fox News

The Christmas Wars:
It has suddenly become clear why Fox News has been so fixated on inciting a “War on Christmas.” It must be because the Christmas season has been devastatingly cruel to Fox News. This year the Nielsen ratings left a smoldering lump of coal in Fox’s stocking despite all the pandering they did to Old St. Nick. Apparently Fox was very naughty. Santa doesn’t approve of lying and, perhaps, viewers are getting tired of it as well (see Fox News Fux Up: The 12 Worst Wrongs Of 2012).

MSNBC/Fox News Ratings

Maddow and O’Donnell Jingle Fox’s Bells:
For the month of December, two-thirds of the Fox News primetime lineup came in second to MSNBC (in the critical 25-54 year old demographic). The Rachel Maddow Show’s monthly average came in 4% above the formidable Fox fixture, Sean Hannity. Lawrence O’Donnell had an even better advantage of 11% over his weaker competition, Greta Van Susteren.

This was a stark difference from last year when Hannity comfortably led Maddow by 46% and Van Susteren outpaced O’Donnell by the same amount. Those leads have now completely evaporated. Only Bill O’Reilly has managed to keep his fat head above water, although his 69% December 2011 lead over Ed Schultz was cut nearly in half in 2012 to 40%.

December 2012 was an affirmation of the superior performance MSNBC has shown since the election in November. Maddow and O’Donnell have consistently defeated Hannity and Van Susteren since President Obama did the same thing to Mitt Romney. This can no longer be explained away by Fox defenders as mere depression on the part of conservative viewers who tuned out after an electoral spanking. That excuse may have made sense for a week or two, but not a full two months later with high profile news events like the “fiscal cliff,” new cabinet appointments, Benghazi hearings, the Petraeus scandal, and the Newtown school shooting dominating news coverage.

Happy New Year:
Fox may have to get used to coming in second, or maybe even third if CNN’s new president, Jeff Zucker, is able to get that network out of idle. And if MSNBC is smart they will start to firm up their schedule with new shows and dynamic personalities. For instance, they should quickly axe the Hardball rerun at 7:00pm, perhaps moving Schultz to that time slot. Then put in his place a leadin to Maddow that takes advantage of the smart brand of analysis and commentary that she and O’Donnell represent. That would tie up their primetime package and boost the network’s reputation generally, which would help draw viewers to other dayparts.

Unsolicited programming advice for MSNBC:
Poach comedian/pundit John Fugelsang from Current TV and pair him up with MSNBC contributor Joy-Ann Reid for a combo news and entertainment hybrid to launch the evening block. A news program that intelligently presents serious issues with a sense of humor could be a compelling option that would ease their audience into a deeper dialog as the night progresses.

[Update 1/4/13] MSNBC has reported their 2011/2012 year-over-year ratings and the numbers are starkly positive compared to their competition. They are up in most categories by double digits (for both total viewers and the 25-54 demo), while Fox News had only slight gains or declines. In fact, both O’Reilly and Hannity delivered their lowest demo performance since 2007. Both Maddow and Donnell were number one for the year in the 18-34 demo, giving them a head start on next generation of viewers.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell Still Stomping Fox News

This is beginning to be something of a trend. Last week MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell crushed their Fox News competition – again. The week-long average for Maddow in the 25-54 demographic was 378,000, vs. Sean Hannity’s 352,000. O’Donnell bested Greta Van Susteren 359,000 to 245,000.

MSNBC Stomping Fox News

The Ed Show continues to lag behind his network companions, but perhaps he should be cut some slack because he is also airing opposite the highest rated program on cable news, The O’Reilly Factor. Even so, MSNBC’s primetime lineup managed to beat Fox News outright on two nights (Wednesday and Thursday).

The frequency with which MSNBC is topping Fox dispels any notion that this is an anomaly. In fact, from election day through November 30, Maddow and O’Donnell beat Hannity and Van Susteren by 13% and 20% respectively. The full primetime averages for this period for Fox and MSNBC are separated by only 2% with O’Reilly lifting Fox barely into the lead.

Fox News can no longer boast that they are the runaway leader in cable news. Before long they may not be the leader at all. Their audience may be tiring of being lied to and they might not appreciate the filters that Fox has put between them and the real world. There can be only so many times that someone can discover that what they thought they knew for sure was not even close to correct. And people who get their news from Fox have been in that situation too many times already.

Even Fox News executives recognize that by building a bubble of misinformation they alienate their viewers and destroy their credibility (what little they have). Consequently, Fox CEO Roger Ailes has thrown a rug over two of his top contributors, Karl Rove and Dick Morris. Producers must now get prior permission before booking them. Not that that alone would change much, because Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, and the rest of the Fox menagerie will still be honking feverishly at perceived enemies and invented scandals.

In the coming months there may be some dramatic shifts in the cable news arena. Fox’s wobbly leadership will continue to be challenged by MSNBC’s post-election burst of energy. And CNN will likely being putting pressure on both when their new president takes the helm in late January. At this point, I wouldn’t place any bets because literally anything can happen. Who would have predicted a year ago that a lesbian Rhodes scholar (Maddow) would be knocking out the boob tube’s biggest boob (Hannity)?

[Update:] Jealously rears its ugly head. In retaliation for having the audacity to get better ratings than Hannity, Fox is now bashing Maddow for getting a Grammy nomination for the spoken word reading of her book, Drift: The Unmooring Of American Military Power. And the tone of Fox’s attack is typically juvenile as they resort to calling her “Rachel Madd-Cow.”

Fox Nation Maddow

Seriously, how old are these people? Or is this just the only level of discourse they think their audience can comprehend?

FOX Ratings Fail: November Increase For CNN, MSNBC Double That Of FOX News

Confirming the ratings slowdown of Fox News post-election, the November ratings show Fox with a comparatively small increase for November 2012 over their numbers for the same month in 2011. While all three networks rose due to this being an election year, Fox’s unimpressive 55% bump was barely half the leap of either CNN or MSNBC.

Fox News Ratings Nov 2012

Perhaps this what you get when you deceive your audience by leading them to believe that their lame candidate was actually in contention despite all the objective evidence to the contrary. Prior to election day Fox hyped notably partisan polls like Rasmussen, and famously idiotic pundits like Dick Morris, who confidently declared that Romney would win in a landslide.

Then, on election night, Fox continued the charade by hosting Karl Rove, who refused to accept the reality of Romney’s defeat. The spectacle that played out on live television had Rove arguing with Fox’s election desk. This caused Anchor Megyn Kelly to ask Rove “Is this just math that you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better, or is this real?” Only on Fox would someone seriously ask their own paid contributor if what he was saying was real.

Since the election Fox News has struggled to make sense of a world they had tried so hard to pretend did not exist – a world where a socialist, Muslim from Kenya could prevail over the richest presidential candidate ever put forward by a major political party. What has America come to?

The flagrant fallacies tendered by Fox were insufficient to topple Obama from his pedestal. Not his trysts with commies like Bill Ayres, nor his scandalous Fast and Furious gunrunning, nor his sordid embrace of gay soldiers, nor his lack of a birth certificate, and not even his culpability for a devastating hurricane, could prevent the President’s reelection. And since all of these would-be scandals were propagated by Fox News, it’s possible their audience is no longer willing to accept what they say at two-faced value.

It’s still too soon to make any predictions about the future rankings of the cable news market. The Fox audience may yet prove to be as gullible and prone to deception as ever. But for the time being there is a glimmer of hope that the marketplace will make purveyors of faulty products pay a price.

If anyone bought a pair of shoes that were as poorly constructed and uncomfortable as most of the stories on Fox News, that shoe company would quickly go out of business. Now we have just to wait to find out if a significant number of Americans are willing to bear the pain of walking another mile in Fox Shoes.

MSNBC’s Primetime Trounces Fox News Since Election Day: Maddow And O’Donnell Soar

Fox News is continuing to show weakness in its primetime schedule in the wake of President Obama’s reelection. In the eight days since election day MSNBC’s average audience for the key 25-54 year old demographic drew about 8% more viewers than Fox. [Source: TVNewser, weekday Nielsen ratings from 11/7-11/16]

MSNBC-Fox Chart

Particularly impressive were the results of the two powerhouse programs on the MSNBC lineup: Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell. Maddow won seven of the eight days against her Fox competition, Sean Hannity. For the 8-day run Maddow beat Hannity by 18% and her 544k average was second to only Bill O’Reilly in all of cable news. O’Donnell won all eight days against Fox’s Greta Van Susteren. His margin of victory over Van Susteren was 17% for the eight days.

This can no longer be considered a temporary blip on the ratings scales. With two weeks having elapsed, the MSNBC programs are showing steady strength against competition that was once thought insurmountable. Only Bill O’Reilly is holding his top position for Fox in primetime. This may indicate that Sean Hannity is wearing thin with viewers who are likely disappointed with his overly confident (and harebrained) assurances that all the polls were wrong and that Mitt Romney would emerge victorious.


Hannity is perhaps the most stridently partisan host on the Fox News network and frequently augments his analysis with that of the pundit world’s most notorious nutcase, Dick Morris. As for Van Susteren, she never had the cult-like following of her Fox comrades, but she has been closely associated with her good friend (and client of her husband), Sarah Palin. That association may also have become a drag on the ratings of her show. Hannity has been with Fox since its launch and is still a top-rated radio talker. Van Susteren, on the other hand, had better start to show some improvement or her time slot will go to daytimer Megyn Kelly, a Roger Ailes favorite whose contract is expiring next year and likely wants to move to primetime.

MSNBC has an opportunity here to expand on the progress they have made in the past two weeks. They need a stronger lead-in to the primetime block. Ed Schultz has been doing OK, but he has not kept up with his colleagues. It might be a good idea to move both Maddow and O’Donnell up one hour, find an edgy, provocative host(s) for the 10pm slot (Harry Shearer & Co.?), and give Schultz the Hardball rerun at 7pm (Harderball?). But one thing is for sure, Fox will not be sitting this out. If MSNBC doesn’t build on their momentum, Fox will dial up the heat and retake the lead they’ve had for the past decade. Hopefully MSNBC recognizes the short window they have to make these gains permanent and jump through it.

MSNBC: #1 Cable News Network In Primetime For Two Days Post-Election

The reelection of President Barack Obama was certainly a gratifying victory for Democrats and supporters of a moderate path forward for America. However, it also seems to have been a victory for the left-of-center cable news network, MSNBC.

MSNBC Crushing FoxFox News has been dominating the cable news ratings for about a decade. The primary reason for that is their having corralled all of the right-wing viewers while everyone else is scattered amongst the other networks. Nevertheless, that distinction gives them bragging rights and an over-sized reputation.

However, for the days (two, so far) that have followed the election, MSNBC has usurped the leader’s crown and ascended to become the number one network in cable news for primetime. In fact, on Thursday MSNBC beat Fox for the whole broadcast day. MSNBC performed well above their third quarter averages for their primetime programming, which had already outperformed their 2011 third quarter by more than twenty percent.

Almost every primetime program on MSNBC beat their Fox competition. The only exception was Ed Schultz who is up against Fox’s highest rated show, the O’Reilly Factor. Schultz, however, did increase his own ratings considerably, just not enough to surpass O’Reilly.

The standouts were Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell who trounced Sean Hannity and Greta Van Susteren, respectively. Maddow exceeded Hannity by 27% on Wednesday and a whopping 75% on Thursday. O’Donnell dunked Van Susteren on Wednesday by 64% and by 32% on Thursday.

This isn’t a one-time occurrence either. In September MSNBC bested Fox during the Democratic convention. Then they repeated their win after the release of the famous “47%” video of Romney secretly recorded at a Florida fundraiser.

It is notable that MSNBC achieved their win over Fox by growing their own audience while Fox’s audience remained fairly stable. So this isn’t a case of Fox’s viewers having tuned out the news after a depressing defeat. It remains to be seen whether this is a mere bump in the election afterglow, or a serious turnaround in the cable ratings race. But it is clear that there is room for MSNBC to grow and make a credible challenge to Fox’s dominance.

Fox News Audience Abandons Ship After Obama Wins

As further evidence of the tunnel-vision conservatism of Fox News, the Nielsen ratings for election night show just how intolerant their audience is of any information that is undesirable or contrary to their worldview.

As the broader television audience peaked into the evening, those watching CNN and MSNBC remained attentive to breaking news and analysis throughout the night. However, those watching Fox News switched off their media feeding tube shortly after the network declared that President Obama had been reelected.

Fox News Election Night Ratings

This chart reveals the precipitous relative decline in viewers that occurred only on Fox News. Some folks may speculate that Fox’s audience simply got tired and went to bed because the network skews older than the other channels and the geezers were sleepy. However, the percent decline for the total audience and the younger 25-54 year old demographic were nearly identical. Others may simply conclude that Fox’s conservative viewers just weren’t interested in anything they might have learned after the race was called. But that’s precisely the point.

Rather than be subjected to news that they found discomforting, the Fox audience turned away, even from their own partisan choice for what they think is news. The reelection of the President must have come as a something of a shock to Fox viewers because Fox had been relentlessly positive about Mitt Romney’s inevitable success, while portraying Obama as a failure who was destined to be rejected for a second term by a populace who despised him. Fox disparaged any polling that showed Obama ahead as biased and unreliable – even their own.

By shutting off Fox News early, they missed the spectacle of Fox contributor Karl Rove challenging the election analysis of his colleagues at the network. He insisted that the call on Ohio was premature and that he thought Romney would take the state. This resulted in anchor Megyn Kelly marching down to the newsroom to seek affirmations from the analysis staff of their projections. As it turned out, Rove was wrong, along with most of the partisan pundits that litter the Fox schedule.

The sharp drop-off in viewership that occurred only on Fox reveals the sensitivity that the Fox viewer has to actual, truthful information. That is something that Fox exploits eagerly as they load up their programming with false and prejudicial stories. And that accounts for why Fox viewers have been shown to be so much less informed than consumers of news from other sources. They have such an aversion to anything other than Fox’s pre-seasoned, right-wing brand of pseudo-knowledge that they won’t even stayed tuned to Fox if there is a chance they might be exposed to raw reality.

Update: On Wednesday night Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell handily beat their Fox competition (Hannity and Van Susteren) in the 25-54 demo.

Romney’s 47% Fiasco Fuels MSNBC Ratings Rout For Maddow, O’Donnell

Just like when the party conventions concluded and the DNC’s superior production boosted the audience for MSNBC’s primetime programming, the release of the crippling video of Mitt Romney dismissing half the nation as moochers is having a positive effect on MSNBC as well.

Rachel Maddow

On Monday, Rachel Maddow crushed Sean Hannity scoring 32% more viewers in the key advertiser demo of adults 25-54. Also, Chris Matthews’ Hardball beat Shepard Smith and Lawrence O’Donnell topped Greta Van Susteren.

Last night (Tuesday), Rachel again rolled over Hannity by an even larger margin (37%). And O’Donnell continued his dominance of Van Susteren. On both nights MSNBC took the total primetime time period from Fox News. These wins are significant in that they don’t occur very often. What’s more, they are routing Fox’s perennial winners without any special programming along the lines of a convention or debate. This is strictly news driven.

However, even more noteworthy is that Maddow’s demo numbers on Tuesday were the highest in all of the cable news primetime schedule. She even bested Bill O’Reilly by 3% despite the fact that O’Reilly’s guest was Jon Stewart who ought to have drawn in the younger viewers that ordinarily shun O’Reilly. With his devoted older-skewing viewers, plus the kids from Stewart’s heavily promoted guest appearance, O’Reilly should have run away with the night.

Maddow’s decisive victory suggests that there is something brewing in the cable news game. Viewers are responding to the editorial content of MSNBC and its most dynamic presenters. It’s still way too soon to make definitive statements or projections, but the gathering trends are promising.

Now all MSNBC has to do is capitalize on the new attention they are receiving and bring in new talent. Ed Schultz, who has not been contributing to this upswing, may be due for a makeover or a co-host. And there’s no need to repeat Hardball in the early evening when a new show could could broaden the audience. My long-shot pick: I’d give former Rep. Anthony Weiner a shot. If Eliot Spitzer can get a show on Current, Weiner should have a second chance too. He’s smart, experienced, and entertaining. And the publicity would help bring in a curious audience.

[Update] O’Donnell beat Van Susteren again on Wednesday.

Even MSNBC Gets A Convention Bounce: Still Beating Fox News

The Democratic National Convention last week provided an opportunity for MSNBC to introduce themselves to a wider audience. And that they did. The channel was viewed in primetime by more than nine million people during the three days of the convention. That’s nearly 10% higher than the RNC viewership. And for the first time ever they scored a ratings victory over top-rated Fox News for a full week.

With the conventions over MSNBC still has the glow of victory about it. On Monday September 10, Rachel Maddow beat Sean Hannity by 12% in the key 25-54 year old demographic. Lawrence O’Donnell had an even bigger margin of victory (29%) over Greta Van Susteren. And for good measure, the repeat of The Ed Show beat the repeat of the O’Reilly Factor, and Maddow’s repeat beat Hannity’s. That’s four solid hours on top for MSNBC.

These wins were achieved without the help of the convention. And the programs on Fox were stacked with guests that should have been big draws for them. Hannity featured Tea Party darling, Sen. Rand Paul. Van Susteren touted an exclusive with Rep. Darrell Issa who has been hammering the Obama administration over the salacious (and phony) Fast & Furious controversy.

If MSNBC can hold just a portion of these numbers over time, it could signal a turnaround in the cable news hierarchy. MSNBC has not been particularly successful in building their audience, while Fox has masterfully captured the glassy-eyed disciples of conservatism. Time will tell if this is a blip or a trend.

In related news, the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press released their post-convention survey of attitudes and opinions of the candidates and their events. The headline notes that President Obama was overshadowed by keynoter Bill Clinton. That provides a stark contrast for the RNC where Mitt Romney was similarly overshadowed by Clint Eastwood. Who would you rather be overshadowed by? And Fox News viewers affirm Pew’s findings:

Fox News Poll - Clint Eastwood

What Television Ratings Tell Us About The Democratic And Republican Conventions

Now that both parties have held their extended infomercials (aka conventions), data is coming in from polling that shows how the parties fared after the most tightly controlled, self-directed presentations they will be able to put before the public. The candidates will never have a better opportunity to cast themselves in the best possible light, free of any disruption or hindrance, save that which they produce themselves (i.e. Clint Eastwood).

Based on the post-convention polling that is trickling out, there is clear evidence that President Obama put on a better show and is enjoying the fruits of that success. Polls from Gallup, Reuters, CNN, and even the far-rightists at Rasmussen put Obama ahead of Romney by two to six points. The fabled convention bounce was plainly felt in the Obama camp, while the almost never heard of negative bounce struck Romney.

Their is another sort of survey that can be just as enlightening as these election polls. The TV ratings hold a wealth of information that, when analyzed, reveal a great deal about the electorate.

Let’s start with the fact that more Americans watched the Democratic Convention (9.4 million) than the Republican one (8.6 million) a week earlier. Even though the Democrats’ program was filled with well known political figures with whom the public is familiar, viewers still tuned them in in greater numbers than the new faces at the GOP affair that ought to have attracted more people seeking to learn about the ticket for the first time.

Despite the turmoil of the past four years, both imagined (Tea Party, Obama sCare) and real (economy, employment), Obama’s popularity is holding firm. In 2008 the President drew 38.3 million viewers to his convention nomination speech, and that’s when he was an emerging celebrity and the first African-American nominated for the presidency by a major political party. This year Obama drew 35.7 million viewers, a slight 7% decline from 2008. Romney, on the other hand, brought in only 30 million viewers, which was not only less than Obama, whom Republicans insist is an American pariah, but Romney’s audience was also 25% lower than John McCain’s in 2008. And not too many pundits will argue that McCain was a dynamic presence that wowed the masses. You should consider it a bad omen if you can’t outdraw John McCain.

The Republican convention was a feast for right-wing media. Fox News beat all of the other cable news networks, which is something they are accustomed to doing. However, they were in a much less familiar role during the Democratic convention – Dead Last! Fox’s ratings were more than cut in half as their viewers abandoned them rather than let Democrats into their liberally sanitized homes. It is apparent that the FoxPods have no interest in educating themselves about the political agendas of a party they regard as the enemy. So they sequester themselves in the dark until the bogie men and women are gone.

But the bigger story is that MSNBC achieved it’s first ever win of a full week of primetime against CNN and Fox during the Dems broadcast. That’s a significant accomplishment in the midst of an election campaign that is drawing viewers to all networks. To be sure, MSNBC and CNN performed worse during the GOP’s convention than the Democrats. However, they still saw bigger audiences than their non-convention averages, which shows that their viewers are more open to exposing themselves to diverse political opinions. That’s typical of liberals who value education, as opposed to the conservatives who watch Fox who reject science and have been shown through multiple studies to be significantly more misinformed than consumers of other media.

The ratings results from the whole two weeks of convention coverage confirm the analysis I did after the first night of the DNC when I wrote…

The FoxPods were faced with a dilemma. They had no intention of tuning in some other channel. But their pet channel was broadcasting {yuck} Democrats. So the Tea-publicans that make up Fox’s audience sucked it up and turned off Fox. [...]

Pray For Fox NewsThis means that the Fox News audience made a deliberate choice to avoid any exposure to the party they regard as their enemy. They refused to listen to views that Fox has convinced them are dangerous and representative of foreign, Muslim, communist, and godless pagans. They voluntarily separated themselves from the heresy that might have infected their pious souls.

That is behavior consistent with cults. They make a point of disassociating with apostates and blasphemers who might divert them from the true path. Even if those “threats” are close family members. The cult leaders demand strict loyalty. And that is precisely what Fox News gets from their disciples.

Make no mistake…Fox is a religion that compels its adherents to be faithful, to abide by prescribed standards of behavior, and to refrain from dissenting from the orthodoxy. Those rules go for the prominent and powerful as much as they do the little folks in the pews. That’s what prompted former Bush speechwriter David Frum to lament that “Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us, and now we are discovering we work for Fox.”