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.

Fox Nation vs. Reality: The White House Did Not Edit CIA Talking Points

Earning a place at the top of the Fox Nation web site this morning is story that complies perfectly with the non-existent journalistic standards of Fox News. The article cites the uber-conservative blog FreeBeacon and features the headline “White House Deleted Al Qaeda From CIA Talking Points.”

Get the New eBook Fox Nation vs. Reality from
Fox Nation

As usual, the Fox Nationalists only got one thing wrong with their story: the whole story. As it turns out, there is no evidence that the White House deleted Al Qaeda from the CIA talking points. What’s more, there is nothing in the article that affirms the falsehood in the headline.

This story hinges on the latest effort by the right and Fox News to malign President Obama and to politicize the tragic deaths of Americans in Benghazi, Libya. There has been a well coordinated smear campaign seeking to blame Obama not only for attacks perpetrated by terrorists, but also for a cover-up of information about those attacks. The GOP is also exploiting the affair to derail the possible appointment of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to be the next Secretary of State.

However, the partisan outrage has been woefully short of any substance. The right has been clamoring for answers from the White House, but when they get the answers they pretend that they didn’t hear anything. The official White House response from Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor, stated clearly that…

“This question came up as to whether the White House had edited Susan Rice’s points and the points that were provided to Congress and the administration — the only edit that was made to those points by the White House, and was also made by the State Department, was to change the word “consulate” to “diplomatic facility” since the facility in Benghazi had not — was not formally a consulate. Other than that, we worked off of the points that were provided by the intelligence community.”

And if that weren’t clear enough, recent testimony by Gen. Petraeus backed up the White House’s version of events in closed-door testimony before congress. Rep. Peter King (R-NY), a harsh critic of the President, spoke with reporters after the testimony and said that Gen. Petraeus told the committee that the CIA approved the talking points after they were edited and said it was “Okay for it to go.” When asked if he was upset about Al Qaeda being removed, he said that he was not, according to King.

Ordinarily that would suffice to quell speculation about some far-ranging conspiracy to murder American diplomats and sweep the scandal under the rug. But Fox News was never interested in the facts in the first place. They have latched unto this invented controversy to damage the President and they don’t intend to let go merely because the truth contradicts their narrative.