Ex-Fox News Anchor Greta Van Susteren’s Failing MSNBC Show is Abruptly Canceled

Score one for the free market. Six months ago MSNBC hired Greta Van Susteren to host an early evening hour program. It was a peculiar choice considering the network’s success with their more progressive personalities in primetime. There was never a good case to be made for a former Fox News host succeeding on MSNBC. Their existing audience surely wasn’t clamoring for more Fox-style news analysis. And no one who watches Fox would be caught dead tuning in to MSNBC.

Greta Van Susteren

Nevertheless, the network’s management took the plunge. An apt metaphor considering how deep the ratings for Van Susteren’s show sank. The show was virtual sinkhole in the schedule. Both its lead-in and lead-out had more viewers and better ratings. People were clearly changing the channel when Van Susteren’s show started.

Van Susteren’s weakness occurred while the rest of the network’s program’s were soaring to record highs. Rachel Maddow has frequently beaten her Fox News competition and landed at the top of all cable news programming. The same is true for her colleague Lawrence O’Donnell. Van Sustern wasn’t even performing as well as Maddow’s and O’Donnell’s repeats.

So after six months, MSNBC management has seen the light and diplomatically announced a parting of the ways. Network president Phil Griffin said:

“MSNBC and Greta Van Susteren have decided to part ways. Greta is a well-regarded television veteran and one of only a few broadcasters who can say they’ve hosted shows at all three major cable news networks. We are grateful to her and wish her the best.”

Griffin also revealed that Van Susteren’s time slot will be filled by Ari Melber. Melber is the network’s legal analyst and host of the weekend show The Point. He has also been a frequent fill-in host for several of the network’s programs. He should be a capable, if not exciting, addition to the schedule. On the down side, he’s just another cable news white guy. Weekend anchor Joy Reid would have been a better, and more stimulating, choice.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

It remains to be seen if MSNBC has realized the folly of their ways. They recently hired or promoted other right-wingers like Hugh Hewitt, Bret Stephens, Charlie Sykes, and George Will. And their big get, Fox News star Megyn Kelly, is already off to a disastrous start. Her NBC Sunday Night show premiered to abysmal ratings and went down from there. NBC execs are already somewhat frantic that she will kill the Today Show when she debuts in September. Time will tell.

MSNBC Reaches HUGE Ratings Milestone as Fox News is dragged Down By Right-Wing Millstone

Donald Trump’s presidency continues to be the victim of an unrelenting cascade of scandalous news. At the same time, ironically, Fox News appears to be the victim of Donald Trump. As the President’s fortune’s sink ever lower, so do the ratings for Fox News. And it’s no coincidence.

Rachel Maddow

This week MSNBC hit a significant milestone. For the first time ever the network topped the weekly primetime ratings in a commanding fashion. For both total viewers and the critical 25-54 year old advertising demographic, MSNBC led all of cable news. This was a broadly based ratings win that stretched beyond the network’s powerhouse, Rachel Maddow. All In with Chris Hayes, The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, and The 11th Hour with Brian Williams all won their time periods.

Simultaneously, Fox News descended to lows that it hasn’t seen in seventeen years. They came in third in the demo in primetime behind both MSNBC and CNN. This is fairly conclusive evidence that the media landscape is shifting in the Era of Trump. MSNBC’s primetime lineup has proven to be popular as the nation seeks in-depth coverage of Trump’s floundering White House. Viewers appreciate the perspective and analysis of clear-eyed anchors and guests.

The problem for Fox News is that their entire business model works against them in this environment. The editorial practice on Fox is to hype anything and everything that reflects negatively on Democrats and liberals. Conversely, they avoid or underplay any news that harms their benefactors on the right. Since almost all of the news these days is horrible for Republicans, Fox News is trapped in a vortex of right-wing happy-talk. And worse, they are ideologically precluded from reporting what viewers are most interested in.

Every day there seems to another bombshell story related to Trump’s alleged collusion with Russian operatives. These are among the most compelling stories of any news cycle. The American people want to know whether the President engaged in potentially impeachable conduct. They want to know if he’s in cahoots with foreign enemies. In addition, there are numerous other topics that cast the administration in a bad light. They include: the much despised Republican proposal to repeal and replace ObamaCare; Trump’s tax reform that benefits the wealthy at the expense of the rest of us; the foreign and military affairs wherein Trump exposes his profound ignorance; the financial conflicts of interest by the President and his family; and the many episodes of embarrassing and/or unlawful behavior by his advisers and associates.

But Fox News won’t cover any of that. At least not in any detail. So if news consumers want to know what’s going on they have to switch away from Fox. And they are doing so in droves. MSNBC is clearly the biggest beneficiary of this. While viewers know there’s an editorial slant during the network’s primetime, they appreciate the exhaustive research and factual basis. Particularly with breakout star Rachel Maddow. CNN has also grown their ratings, but their obsession with phony balance and artificially combative debate limits their upside.

Fox is likely to continue its downward spiral. And not just because of their reporting embargo on actual breaking news. In the past year they have lost their CEO, Roger Ailes, and biggest star, Bill O’Reilly, to sex scandals. They also lost Bill Shine, the executive who replaced Ailes. They are under investigation by the New York Attorney General for financial securities violations. Among their on-air personalities they saw the departures of Gretchen Carlson, Megyn Kelly, Andrea Tantaros, and Julie Roginsky. And their only African-American anchor, Kelly Wright, is a plaintiff in a racial discrimination lawsuit along with twelve others. The list of litigants against Fox for racial and gender discrimination continues to grow.

Meanwhile, MSNBC is enjoying record audience growth. Maddow and her primetime colleagues are doing what was once considered unthinkable. They are beating Fox News. Recent reports that suggested that MSNBC might not renew the contract of Lawrence O’Donnell launched a massive outcry that may have forced the network to the negotiating table.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

The trends are decidedly in MSNBC’s favor. They have the content and the public on their side. While Fox News is struggling without leadership, star power, or news that appeals to their glassy-eyed disciples. We can expect the fates of Fox and Trump to continue to slide in sync with one another. And as they both alienate TV viewers, the nation, and the world, their influence will decline to match their dishonest and loathsome reputations.

UPDATE: MSNBC’s hot streak continued to win the whole month of May for weeknights in primetime.

MSNBC is Finally Negotiating with Lawrence O’Donnell. Keep the Pressure on. It’s Working

The soap opera drama surrounding Lawrence O’Donnell’s contract negotiations with MSNBC is heating up. In a good way. Last week an article on the Huffington Post revealed that MSNBC was not actively negotiating to re-sign O’Donnell whose contract expires in June. That news startled his fans and the media world at large.

Lawrence O'Donnell MSNBC

O’Donnell is a core part of the team that is currently burning up cable news. MSNBC’s ratings are reaching record highs. For the past three weeks they have even bested Fox News in the critical 25-54 year old advertising demographic. That was considered unthinkable a few weeks ago. The brightest star in the network’s universe is Rachel Maddow, whose ratings have soared in sync with her stellar reporting on Donald Trump. O’Donnell has nearly matched her success and beaten Fox News perennial, Sean Hannity, on some nights.

Insider speculation has pointed to NBC News chief Andy Lack as the obstacle to O’Donnell’s renewal. Since his ascension, Lack has steered MSNBC to a decidedly more conservative slant. He hired Greta Van Susteren from Fox News. Also dinosaur conservative George Will. He gave former George W. Bush communications director, Nicolle Wallace, her own show. And he’s giving Hugh Hewitt one on the weekend. Why he thinks that any conservative viewers are going to tune in to MSNBC is a complete mystery. They have been trained for years to regard the network as something just this side of Satanic. Van Susteren’s show is already a dismal failure that brings down the programs that follow it.

Lack’s programming moves are disconcerting for several reasons. They make no sense from a business perspective. It is ridiculous to upend a schedule that is showing such success and is still growing. It alienates the core audience that is the foundation of that success. But there is also talk that Lack’s motivation is to suck up to Donald Trump. Considering Trump’s record low standing in the polls, that may be the dumbest reason of all to upset a winning formula.

Shortly after the HuffPost article, another appeared on Showbiz411 with a disturbingly declarative headline. It blared “MSNBC Ending Lawrence O’Donnell ‘The Last Word’ Show Despite Top Ratings (Exclusive).” It’s author, Roger Friedman, began by saying “I can confirm that MSNBC is ending the top rated ‘The Last Word’ with Lawrence O’Donnell.” That, unsurprisingly, created a stir among viewers. Even worse, Friedman cited sources that said “O’Donnell’s tireless criticism of Donald Trump” was the reason for the cancellation.

So here’s the good news. Friedman just published a new article that contradicts his prior exclusive. Apparently the outcry from viewers was so powerful that it pushed MSNBC to the negotiating table. Indeed, there has been a flood of angry viewers swarming Facebook and Twitter in defense of O’Donnell. The result appears to be the first serious talks between the network and its star.

It’s too soon, however, to declare victory. Until there’s a signed contract that locks O’Donnell into his current time slot, fans need to keep the pressure on. But they can do so with the knowledge that such tactics are working. You can call them at 212-664-4444 and email them at letters@msnbc.com.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

There has never been more need for honest progressive reporting on television. The Era of Trump cannot be allowed to dispense the lies and propaganda that are emblematic of that movement. And with Fox News in upheaval (having lost its CEO Roger Ailes and its biggest star Bill O’Reilly to sex scandals), this is not the time to retreat. Activists who are seeking to turn Congress and the White House blue need to recognize that the media battlefield is just as important as the electoral one. Carry on progressive soldiers – to victory.

UPDATE (5/31/2017): Lawrence O’Donnell affirmed that he’ll be continuing on his program for the next couple of years. VICTORY!

BLACKOUT: This is How Fox News Intentionally Keeps Its Viewers Stupid

There have been innumerable examples of Fox News airing false reports in an effort to misinform their viewers. A recent example just within the past week alleged that President Obama recruited British spies to conduct surveillance on Donald Trump’s campaign. Fox’s senior judicial analyst, Andrew Napolitian, made the claim without any supporting evidence. The network’s news division later refuted the report and put Napolitano on an indefinite leave. But that was after the story had been disseminated worldwide, creating an international incident. Even Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer (Fibby Spice) cited the fake news during a White House press briefing.

Go Fox Yourself

However, another way of shaping an ignorant electorate is to refrain from covering important events. The choice of what not to cover is just as significant as what to cover. And on Tuesday Fox News demonstrated their determination to deny their audience information that is unarguably newsworthy.

The House Intelligence Committee’s hearings on Russia’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election were broadcast live by most news networks. Testimony by FBI Director James Comey revealed for the first time that the FBI was investigating Trump and his associates. The proceedings were unusually compelling for a congressional hearing. And the proof of that came when Fox News decided to cease coverage of the hearings to host a panel of right-wing talking heads instead.

Fox was the only network that interrupted the live broadcast. And by doing so they deprived their viewers of first hand knowledge of what was happening at the hearings. What’s worse is that they replaced the hearings with conservative pundits providing a blatantly biased analysis. It was a deliberate programming strategy designed to advance the messaging of an embattled White House.

Unfortunately for Fox News, it may not have worked this time. Ratings for the cable news networks show that when Fox cut away from the hearings they lost about 29 percent of their audience. That’s a massive shift by viewers who were obviously disappointed by Fox’s programming decision. What’s more, viewers were plainly following the hearings to other channels. The ratings for CNN and MSNBC both spiked after Fox cut away.

This tells us that the American people are acutely interested in this matter. They want to know more about the potentially treasonous activities of their president. By suppressing that information Fox succeeded only in alienating their audience and further eroding their credibility. Plus, they probably don’t want to send their viewers off to competing networks.

The Trump administration has brought newfound prosperity to liberal programming. The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC has toppled Fox from its perch atop the ratings hill. She has won her time period for the past two weeks straight. Saturday Night Live, despite Trump’s insulting tweets (or because of them) has seen its best ratings in years. Stephen Colbert’s Late Show is now leading his late night talk show competition.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

All of this suggests that Americans are hungry for honest reporting. They are tired of Fox’s propaganda and the phony “balance” sought by CNN and other conventional news outlets. They want the press to be skeptical when appropriate and aggressive when necessary. They know there’s something amiss in the Trump White House and they don’t want it papered over. And they are not going to sit still when a network like Fox decides that they don’t need to know what’s really going on. Fox News needs to adjust a new viewer mantra: We have remotes, and we’re prepared to use them.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Just Beat Fox News and Every Other Primetime Program On TV

For several weeks now Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC program has been picking up steam. Last Monday she rose into the ratings top ten in her time period. And that momentum continued for the rest of the week. As a result, she just snagged a victory over every primetime program for the week of March 6-10.

Rachel Maddow Donald Trump

The Hollywood Reporter noted the achievement saying that:

“Rachel Maddow, MSNBC’s star player, is enjoying one hell of a ratings run right now.

“The cable news network’s 9 o’clock host outrated every other primetime show during the week of March 6. Not only did that make her show No. 1 among adults 25-54 in her time slot with an average 624,000 viewers, she even beat cable news’ perennial victor — Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly.”

A showing this strong is evidence of a titanic shift in the television audience. Bill O’Reilly has been the cable news king of the hill fairly consistently for years. He hasn’t seen any real competition since Keith Olbermann. In her time period, Maddow’s weekly average crushed her direct competition, Fox’s newest primetime host Tucker Carlson. And her victory included both total audience and the key advertising demographic of viewers 25-54. The smug superiority of Carlson was quickly embraced by Fox’s viewers. However, his bewildered and annoyed shtick seems to be wearing thin.

Maddow’s rise has occurred simultaneously with Donald Trump’s collapse. Trump’s approval ratings started in the cellar with the lowest numbers ever recorded for a new president. And they have just gone down from there. This week alone he sunk five points to a pitiful 39 percent.

Consequently, Fox News is pulling out all the stops to prop up their propaganda. Sean Hannity blasted Maddow on Monday for daring to report on Trump’s ties to Vladimir Putin and Russia. Ordinarily Hannity wouldn’t bother to speak her name aloud. But now he is featuring her in his rants. First he complained that she didn’t have “a shred of evidence” tying Trump to Putin. That’s true. She doesn’t have a shred, she has truck load. Then Hannity asked the most blitheringly ironic question ever: “Do these people have any intellectual honesty?” No comment on that is necessary.

As for Carlson, he just announced that he will be interviewing Trump on Wednesday. Given Trump’s toxic presence, that might not be a great programming move. Fox’s glassy-eyed loyalists will love it, but the broader TV audience will likely stay away. What could they possibly learn from television’s most sycophantic Trump fluffer spending an hour with his idol?

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

That’s a problem that Fox News is going to have to contend with for the foreseeable future. Their star attraction is viewed by most Americans as an ignorant bigot who is intent on taking away their healthcare. During the campaign Trump was still a novelty and many people watched just to see if he would burst a blood vessel in his neck or slap an immigrant child. But the public knows Trump now and they’ve lost interest in his juvenile antics. And the more he is paraded out on Fox News, the better it will be for Maddow and MSNBC. Maybe CNN should start paying attention.

Rachel Maddow’s Trump Coverage Has Rocketed Her To The Top 10 Of TV Ratings

There have been numerous polls that show Donald Trump sinking to historic lows in approval. He currently resides at a pitiful 43 percent. That puts him at the bottom of the past nine presidents (going back more than sixty years) at this point in their terms. And that makes him the most unpopular new president in as long as this poll has been done.

Rachel Maddow

Likewise, majorities of the public are generally not in favor of his policies. He is trailing on the issues he has pushed the hardest for. Voters oppose him on ObamaCare, the border wall, and immigration. The media that he hates so fiercely is held in higher esteem than he is. And half of the electorate is already in favor of impeaching him. Can it get any worse than this?

Well, another measure of popularity is the ratings of television programs that feature news about politics. On that scale Trump is also in trouble. While Fox News remains the top rated cable news network, it is growing at a slower rate than its competitors. And one program particularly stands out. The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC is reaching new heights since election day. Maddow was recently featured in an interview with The Wrap who noted that:

“MSNBC’s ‘The Rachel Maddow Show’ has been on a roll, posting her best ratings month ever in February and nearly doubling her viewership. Her secret is simple. Maddow said she covers President Donald Trump’s White House in a very old-fashioned Hollywood way.

“‘We developed sort of an informal, internal mantra… which is that we basically cover them as if they are a silent movie,’ Maddow told TheWrap. ‘I stopped covering the Twitter feed and we started covering only what they do rather than what they say.’

“It’s working. In February, Maddow racked up MSNBC’s largest total viewer audience ever in the 9 p.m. ET timeslot and the best performance among the key news demo of adults age 25-54 since November 2012. After the February victory, Maddow has now beaten CNN’s regularly scheduled programming for 45 straight months.”

This sort of performance spike does not happen in a vacuum. People are gravitating to news that is informative and entertaining. There is clearly an audience that isn’t interested in Fox’s Pravda-like impression of state-run propaganda. Nor are they drawn to the phony “balance” that CNN aims for.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

The television audience is reflecting the electorate by rewarding programming that takes on the flagrant lies of a delusional administration. Throughout the television schedule there is evidence of a Trump effect. Stephen Colbert has jumped into the late-night top spot due to his renewed focus on Trump. Saturday Night Live is hitting heights they haven’t seen in years. Sure, there may be some confirmation bias in this, but even that is instructive. There is obviously a significant number of people looking for confirmation of reality. And that’s something they aren’t getting from Trump & Company.

Trump’s Gonna Hate This: His Congressional Speech Ratings Fall Below Obama’s

The infamous ego of Donald Trump is going to take a severe blow when he gets wind of this. His highly anticipated maiden address to Congress may have enchanted much of the media, but the ratings reveal far less adoration than he will be comfortable with. Even with Brian Kilmeade of Fox News telling him that “you’ll have the biggest audience for a State of the Union-like address this year, bigger than any other year,” reality has a way of intervening.

The Nielsen ratings for Trump’s speech came in at about 48 million. That’s a respectable number for anyone else, but Trump is likely to pound a hole in the Oval Office wall when he finds out. The reason for his outrage will be that he failed to snag the top spot for such events. To make matters worse, he lost to both Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Compared to Obama’s first address in 2009, Trump’s pull is down by 8 percent.” Rankings for first-time speeches to Congress are – Clinton 1993: 66.9 million. Obama 2009: 52.4 million. Trump 2017: 48.0 million.

Congressional Speech Ratings

Knowing Trump, one of two reactions can be expected. Either he will lash out at Nielsen and the “fake” ratings establishment that is determined to destroy his presidency. Or he will simply insist that he had higher ratings and everyone tells him so. Then he’ll send Sean Spicer out to confirm it and yell at the press.

Trump flew into a rage after the election when results that showed Hillary Clinton received nearly three million more votes. Defying reality again, Trump insisted that he would have had more popular votes were it not for millions of illegal voters. Then when he delivered his inauguration speech he invented millions of attendees that were invisible to the cameras.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

It goes without saying that Trump will be furious when he learns of his latest failure. His handlers may try to keep him from finding out, but someone on Twitter will probably spill the beans. Then just wait for all hell to break loose. Trump is failing in the field he knows best – TV. He previously mocked Arnold Schwarzenegger for not matching his ratings on the new Celebrity Apprentice. Let’s see if Arnold has anything to say about this.

Democrats’ Message Of Hope THRASHES Republican Fear Mongering In TV Ratings

Now that both of the presidential nominating conventions are over, we can take a look at how the American people felt about the proceedings with respect to their television viewing. The Nielsen ratings are in and they tell a story that may have an impact on the election and its results in November.

Clinton Trump

From the broadest perspective the Democrats scored a significant victory (which may explain why Donald Trump is now pretending that he had nothing to do with his own convention). The cumulative total viewers for all four nights, across ten broadcast and cable networks, during the Democratic National Convention (DNC) was 116.7 million. For the Republican National Convention (RNC) it was 100.7 million. The Democrats outright won the first three nights by at least five million viewers. On the fourth night Trump’s acceptance speech outdrew Hillary Clinton’s by a small margin of 1.6 million.

DNC RNC
Day 1 28.4 23.0
Day 2 28.0 23.0
Day 3 27.0 19.8
Day 4 33.3 34.9
116.7 100.7

The fourth night of the DNC event requires some additional analysis. It is fair to say that the night when a candidate is making their acceptance speech has particular significance. They are the star attraction at these shows and the impressions they make can have a substantial impact. Consequently, it should raise one’s curiosity as to why the Democrats won every night except the one when Hillary Clinton was making her big speech.

The answer is not especially surprising. When the numbers are broken down by network, you’ll find that Trump drew a massive 9.4 million viewers for his speech on Fox News alone. The following week, by contrast, Clinton was watched by only three million viewers on Fox. There was no similar disparity on any other network.

Clearly the people who watch Fox News were inclined to tune in to see their favorite candidate, Donald Trump. And when it came time for Hillary Clinton to speak, Fox viewers simply tuned her out, preferring to remain steeped in their own partisan stupidity. Absent this warped variable, the average viewership of the convention’s fourth night again shows a healthy lead for the Democrats.

More importantly, it shows a decidedly unhealthy tendency for Republicans to deliberately shelter themselves from the real world and wallow in a pool of purposeful ignorance. This isn’t a new development. A couple of years ago Gallup conducted a study that identified the political leanings of the viewers of each network. It showed that fully 94% of respondents identified as Republican or leaning Republican said that Fox News is their main source for news. Conservatives chimed in at 79%. And a whopping 97% of those who do not approve of President Obama pledged their allegiance to Fox. None of the respondents on the left came within 30 points of that level of extreme partisanship.

What this tells us is that Fox News is virtually irrelevant to the political debate in America. They cater to a uniform community of right-wing zealots whose opinions are locked in place. So it makes no difference that Fox viewers didn’t watch Clinton’s speech because they wouldn’t vote for her anyway. In fact, they may have just been following orders from their master. Yesterday Donald Trump sent an email to supporters telling them not to watch Clinton on Thursday:

“Unless you want to be lied to, belittled, and attacked for your beliefs, don’t watch Hillary’s DNC speech tonight.”

That’s the sort of advice that you give to juveniles you can’t trust to make their own decisions. It’s advice that cripples ones ability to understand the world around them and makes them incapable of knowing how to respond to information that isn’t pre-chewed for them by autocratic demagogues. In other words, it’s advice that Fox News viewers would rush blindly to follow. And what makes this even more ludicrous is that Trump himself declined his own advice. After earlier saying that he was not going to watch Clinton’s speech, he confessed to an audience at a rally today that “I shouldn’t be telling you this, but I watched it.”

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Of course he did. How else would he know what lame insults to tweet in response? Trump’s ego would never permit him to avoid anything that someone might say about him, particularly if it’s critical. As an insecure bully he needs to have constant control of his surroundings so he can strike back when he feels he’s been maligned. These ratings results prove that he’s one of the losers he’s constantly accusing his opponents of being. But don’t expect him to acknowledge it. He’s probably preparing some tweets right now to smear the lefty radicals at Nielsen who he surely believes are deliberately sabotaging his campaign.

Crybaby Donald Trump’s Tele-Tantrum Failed vs. The GOP Debate On Fox News

THE NUMBERS ARE IN: The Republican debate on Thursday went off without a hitch despite the loss of its biggest tabloid star, Donald “The Situation” Trump. Despite Trump’s trash talking the match-up between the debate and his phony veterans charade, he not only failed to outperform the debate, he didn’t even draw a quarter of the viewers that watched the debate.

Fox News Donald Trump

The audience for the debate was about 12.5 million. So it outdrew the last GOP debate which pulled in 11 million on the Fox Business Channel. The audience for the GOP debates has been understandably declining with each event. They began with a bang last August registering 24 million, then dropped to 22, 14, 13, spiked to 18 on CNN, then settled back to 11 million. So it is to be expected that the audience would continue to shrink, especially without The Donald. The novelty wears off as the election season progresses. However, surprisingly, it went up a bit.

That by itself would be enough evidence that Trump’s tantrum was a failure. But it gets worse. The audience for his cynical and insulting exploitation of veterans as political props was markedly lower. CNN drew only 1.7 million viewers, and MSNBC had just over one million. So the debate’s audience was four times greater than the combined audience on the other news networks. What’s more, the other networks only aired a small portion of Trump’s event (about fifteen minutes at the beginning and sporadic cut-ins later), so his propaganda didn’t get nearly the coverage that he hoped.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Undoubtedly, Trump will declare victory because reality isn’t relevant in his world, or that of his glassy-eyed disciples. But the truth is that he failed to make an impact by ditching the GOP affair. He proved that the networks don’t need to pander to him and that they won’t be hurt if he gets huffy and bails. That’s probably something that he wishes he didn’t make known. And the image of him as whining wimp who is afraid to face a few journalists along with his party peers will endure.

The Reviews Are in: Donald Trump Bombs On SNL

Now that is it’s all over, it turns out that the hype that engulfed Donald Trump’s appearance on Saturday Night Live was more entertaining than the actual show. There are barely any reviews that have anything positive to say about either Trump’s performance, or that of the regular cast and writers.

Donald Trump Racist

The big problem with Trump hosting the show, and the reason the protests were so pronounced, was never about the debate between opposing political ideologies. It was about the noxious validation of an unrepentant hate monger. Would SNL proffer an invitation to a KKK leader if they thought it would produce big ratings? One can only hope not. Likewise, the role of political satire is not to suck up to the rich and powerful, but to slather them in mockery. On that level SNL failed miserably.

Even with regard to ratings, SNL failed to achieve much of a victory. The program did not break any records. It did exceed their other programs over the past three years (not a long time frame for a show that’s been on the air for more than forty years), but fell below such non-talents as Sarah Palin and Charles Barkley. And the reviews for Trump were decidedly unflattering to say the least. Here’s a short sampling of the damage:

  • New York Times: “S.N.L.” stuck with obvious, anemic political riffs and apolitical sketches that were cringeworthy all around.
  • Los Angeles Times: “SNL” seemed so bent on appearing nonpartisan that it over-compensated and forgot its actual mandate: Be funny.
  • The Wrap: In its 41st season, the show would rather play along with the wealthy and powerful than satirize them.
  • Yahoo TV: Host Donald Trump kicked off this week’s Saturday Night Live with an opening monologue that demonstrated all the reasons it wasn’t a good idea for him to host SNL. […] The only entity that came off worse than Donald Trump was SNL.
  • Variety: Most of the sketches involving Trump were weak, timid or predictable.
  • Time: His episode of SNL was among the most anodyne in the show’s recent history.
  • Washington Post: Trump’s sorry night on ‘SNL’: An overhyped bummer for us all.
  • Townhall: Trump on SNL Was Dull, Unfunny.
  • Greg Gutfeld, Fox News: They deliberately wrote nothing, as a protest. It’s like a restaurant cook spitting on someone’s food.

The last two in this list were specifically included to show that it isn’t just the “liberal” media ganging up The Donald. Gutfeld’s paranoid observation that there was a conspiracy by the writers to tank Trump is especially ludicrous. Why would they do so knowing that it would make them look just as atrocious as their star? They have their own careers to consider.

The one moment in the show that was universally applauded was Larry David’s heckling of Trump’s opening monologue wherein he called Trump a racist. David was cashing in on the actual offer by Latino activist group Deport Racism to pay $5,000 to anyone in the SNL audience who called Trump a racist on the air. The group says that it will honor the offer and pay the prize to David (not that he needs it). SNL’s attempt at a preemptive strike to dilute the impact of an audience member disrupting the show backfired because David’s disruption got far more people talking about Trump’s bigotry than an unknown person in the audience would have.

Trump, on the other hand, was stiff and painfully humor-challenged. What’s worse, he managed to make himself appear even less presidential than he has on the campaign trail this year (not an unimpressive feat). It probably won’t hurt him among his supporters because, by definition, their judgment is pitifully defective.

But the real losers in all of this are NBC, who reversed their pledge to cut ties with Trump due to his offensive remarks, and SNL, who are demonstrating a crushing weakness in what should be their core comedic competence. It’s a sad decline for the program that seems to be accelerating downward. And following this disgraceful capitulation to a bully bigot, you have to wonder what’s next for SNL.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Donald Trump SNL