Why Fox News Gets Away With Being Racist: 1% Of Their Audience Is Black

This may not come as a surprise to most people who are paying attention to the media landscape, but another survey by Nielsen reveals that African-Americans are not very well represented in the Fox News audience. The latest numbers from Nielsen, as reported by Mediaite, show that only 1% of Fox News viewers are Black.

Fox News Black Viewer

However, this does explain how Fox can be so brazenly racist in so many of their broadcasts without worrying about the consequences. After all, they have little to lose by offending a segment of the television universe that doesn’t watch their programs anyway. Combine that with Fox’s partisan incentive to suppress Democratic votes and their strategy of inflaming racial animus for political gain doesn’t seem so bad in their warped perspective.

Four years ago News Corpse reported that the Black viewership for Fox was a dismal 1.38%. So, if you can believe it, that meager showing has actually declined since then. The breakdown is an indictment of the rightist network’s bigoted marketing objectives that ignore the diversity of the country and badly trail the racial composition of their competitors. Mediaite writes that…

“During the primetime hours of 8-11 p.m., MSNBC’s audience is 24% black, CNN’s audience is 16% black and Fox News’ audience is just 1% black. By comparison MSNBC’s primetime audience is 67% white while CNN’s is 73% white and Fox News’ is 92% white.”

With numbers like that it is no wonder that Fox can describe Hip-Hop mogul Jay-Z as a “former crack dealer,” dismissing his many years as a successful artist, businessman, and philanthropist. It is why Fox anchor Megyn Kelly is comfortable declaring as a fact that Jesus and Santa Claus are white. It is why virtually every time there is a controversial story that tests the racial tolerance of the nation (Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Voter ID, Immigration, etc.) Fox News takes the side of the white majority. It is why whenever there is an allegation of racism against a person or institution, Fox’s kneejerk response is that racism doesn’t even exist anymore.

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The argument that racism ended after the slaves were freed is one that has been expressed by Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and many other Fox contributors. Some of the more open-minded Fox commentators assert that racism ended more recently with the election of President Obama, conveniently forgetting that nearly half the country voted against him. But the consensus among them is that anyone who alleges prejudice is a “race hustler” and that there is no such thing as “white privilege.”

So, is the low number of African-American viewers of Fox due to the content of the programming, or is it the brazenly racist programming that has driven away Black viewers? It hardly matters at this point because it is clear that Fox no longer cares and doesn’t believe that they have any obligation to cater to an audience demographic that has almost completely abandoned them.

The problem is that that means they also don’t feel any obligation to the racial diversity and harmony of America. Sadly, we can count on Fox to continue to continue to incite the bigots that flock to their network, and the end result will be to create more division and to encourage distrust and hate. Here’s an example what that kind of agenda will produce.

Viewers Are Drawn To Fox News Like Flies Are Drawn To Bullsh*t (And For The Same Reason)

The Baltimore Sun’s media critic, David Zurawik, wants very badly for his analysis to be taken seriously. But it doesn’t help to burnish his credibility when he makes frequent appearances on Fox News. His objectivity is thrown into question due to the fact that his livelihood in part relies on the network that he is supposed to be reporting on. And whatever shred of objectivity remains was just wiped away by his article pimping what he called “Fox News dominance.”

Fox News McDonalds

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The most shallow observations of the place Fox News holds in the mediasphere are those that herald its ratings as some sort of measure of quality or influence. The truth is that Fox is not the powerhouse news operation that they pretend to be. On their best showing they pull in about three million viewers, which is a pitifully small scrap of the 100 million Americans in the television audience. What’s more, those viewers are not consumers of news so much as they are disciples of a conservative theology seeking affirmation.

Nevertheless, Zurawik’s article, which was picked up by Fox, reads like the Sermon on the Fox News Mount. He begins by inventing a premise that has no basis in reality, saying that…

“Much of the media establishment seems bent on ignoring the incredible ratings success of Fox News.”

Zurawik offers nothing to substantiate that assertion. It is obvious that Fox News has been sitting atop the ratings perch for several years, and everybody knows it. For Zurawik to make this notion that Fox’s ratings are being ignored the foundation for his analysis suggests that he has some sort of ax to grind against the “media establishment” that may be ignoring him.

The big news that Zurawik claims is missing is that Fox News had a couple of ratings successes that he regards as significant. One is that Fox drew more viewers than the network newscasts on election night. That is mainly notable because it something that they almost never do. So why isn’t the news here that the networks routinely slaughter Fox News in the ratings? Zurawik doesn’t address that.

In the process of fluffing Fox, Zurawik revealed his biases by describing MSNBC as being “slavishly devoted to Obama.” However one might feel about the political leanings of MSNBC, for a critic who is writing about Fox to highlight that without also mentioning the slavish devotion of Fox to a far-right ideology is simply journalistic malpractice.

Zurawik continues to explore this fallacy by pretending to be interested in figuring out why Fox is so beloved by such an overwhelming majority of the nation. He advises the need for serious folks like us to…

“…start seriously trying to figure out how and why it has come to pass that Bret Baier and Megyn Kelly matter more to Americans on election night than Brian Williams, Scott Pelley, George Stephanopoulos, Anderson Cooper or Wolf Blitzer.

Of course, as noted above, Bret Baier and Megyn Kelly do not matter more to Americans. they only matter more to the thin slice of zealots who watch what’s on Fox no matter what it is. By far, most Americans were watching something else on election night. In fact. most Americans didn’t even bother to vote that day. Turnout was about 36%, the lowest turnout in over 70 years.

Where Zurawik really goes off the rails is when he tries to explain why fox is, in his mind, so respected.

“I think one of the reasons for this latest evolution of ratings dominance might be that Fox was a far better watchdog on the Obama White House than any other TV news organization.

So the theory here is that by challenging those in power, by taking the heat as a watchdog on behalf of the little people, Fox earned their trust. What makes this absolute nonsense is that Fox was a lapdog during the Bush administration. They were apologists for everything from his mismanagement of the economy by giving the wealthy a big tax cut, to his negligence prior to the terrorist attack on 9/11 (when he ignored an intelligence report that said “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.”), to his launching a war in Iraq that was based on lies.

The people who watch Fox were never interested in a watchdog. They were only interested in having their biases confirmed, and worse, inflamed. Zurawik apparently missed all of that. And he further demonstrated his own bias by declaring that the administration has contempt for Americans and for the truth. But if Americans were to punish anyone for having contempt for the truth, it would be Fox News.

Then Zurawik facetiously offers an alternative theory for Fox News’ success:

“Or maybe, it’s what some critics of Fox say: That those who watch the channel only want to hear one side of the story, and that’s all that Fox gives them. The implication here is that Fox viewers are stupid”

Finally, Zurawik hits on something closer to the real explanation for the one-sided popularity of Fox. It has been revealed in numerous studies that Fox News has an audience that is gravely misinformed. And that result comes from their audience having a cult-like devotion to their brand of disinformation.

In closing, Zurawik makes a disingenuous plea that we “shouldn’t let our biases blind us to the serious media criticism that demands to be done.” The buckets full of irony and gall it took for him to say that would fill a warehouse. His bias is soaking the very article that asks for this consideration. And the fact that he thinks there hasn’t already been scads of serious media criticism on this subject is further evidence of just how distant he is from reality.

And speaking of being distant from reality…
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Fox News Gets No Emmys For News (Again). Maybe Reporting Some News Would Help

Today much of the electronic journalism world will be talking about the television ratings for the just-concluded third quarter of 2014. As expected, Fox News topped the cable news category, as it has for several years. Also, as expected, Fox will hype the crap out of this non-newsworthy information that is only an affirmation of Fox’s ability to herd all of the conservative viewers/cattle into their cable corral.

To put this news in perspective, earlier this year Fox News posted their worst ratings in thirteen years. So their achievement spotlighted in this report is that they are now slightly higher than their worst showing in thirteen years. They must be so proud.

Go Fox Yourself

However, there was another less noticed announcement today that has far more significance. The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences released the recipients of the Emmys for news and documentaries. And the winners were: PBS with eleven Emmys; CBS News won ten; ABC News won three; NBC News and the BBC each got two; and CNN and Al Jazeera America both received one Emmy.

Conspicuously missing from that list was Fox “News.” Or perhaps the real surprise would be if they had actually won an Emmy. Fox has been stiffed by the Academy since their launch in 1996. That is largely due to the fact that Fox doesn’t broadcast any news. They are strictly an entertainment network that is filled with fiction, drama, scandal, soap opera, soft-porn, and a prodigious amount of unintentional comedy. What’s more, their entertainment projects are slanted heavily in favor of the Republican right for whom Fox serves as a PR agency. For instance, see if you can find a pattern in these special “Fox News Reporting” investigations:

  • Benghazi: The Truth Behind the Smokescreen.
  • Benghazi: White House Cover-Up Revealed?
  • 13 Hours In Benghazi.
  • Charles Krauthammer: A Life That Matters.
  • The Great Food Stamp Binge.
  • Behind the Obama Breakdown.
  • Surrendering America.
  • Behind Obama’s Green Agenda.
  • Live Free Or Die: Obamacare In New Hampshire.

Those are just a few of the blatant attack pieces produced by Fox to smear the Obama administration. They were laden with rumor, innuendo, unsubstantiated allegations, and outright lies, that never resulted in any noteworthy revelation. Like all of Fox’s scandal mongering, they went nowhere because there were no facts to support their made-up premises. Is it any wonder why Fox can’t snag an Emmy?

A few years ago, in an impudent rant, Fox publicly stated that they were refusing to compete in the Emmy contest, accusing the Academy of being biased against them. However, in order to take that complaint seriously, you would have to believe that all of their peers in the business were biased, because it is they who vote. The Academy merely tabulates the votes. So Fox is admitting that their own colleagues have no respect for them as journalists. Hence, they took their deflated ball and went running home whining “We don’t want your crummy Emmy anyway.” So there.

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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.

Go Fox Yourself
[More cable news ratings here.]

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.

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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.