Almost exactly one year ago I published a comprehensive examination of the futility of appearances on Fox News by Democrats and progressives: Starve The Beast. The thrust of the article argued that…
“Every time one of our representatives appears on Fox, they are setting back our agenda. They are not just wasting a little time trying to confront the enemy in its lair. They are literally causing harm to the efforts of the rest of us who are fervently struggling to repair and improve our country.”
The case was supported by studies that showed that Fox News audiences supported Republicans by overwhelming margins and that they were significantly more likely to have misperceptions about current news events. I also provided evidence that the centerpiece in Rupert Murdoch’s empire was a far less ominous presence in the mediasphere than they liked to imagine themselves.
It’s all still true. Rasmussen conducted a new study that affirms the previous studies. Their survey shows that Fox News viewers are still a species apart from the rest of the television population.
When nine out of ten Fox viewers say that they will vote for John McCain, you have an audience that may be more accurately described as a cult (as I described it in The Cult Of Foxonality). And while viewers at both CNN and MSNBC express a solid two to one majority for Barack Obama, that is a far cry from the near unanimous, block mentality of Fox viewers. The fact that the CNN and MSNBC audience compositions agree with one another suggests that they may be a better reflection of the population as a whole. They certainly come much closer to public opinion polling on the presidential race. Another indication of the disparity between Fox and its competitors is that 43% of CNN viewers and 38% of MSNBC viewers have a favorable opinion of McCain. However, only 14% of Fox viewers have a favorable opinion of Obama.
This corroborating evidence of how decidedly unfriendly the Fox News audience is to Democrats ought to be enough to persuade them to stay away from the network. Unfortunately, the past few weeks has seen wayward souls like Lanny Davis and Howard Wolfson lured into the Fox lair. To make matters worse, both Hillary Clinton and Obama have recently granted interviews to Fox flacks Bill O’Reilly and Chris Wallace, respectively. Obviously more persuasion is required. So let’s go to the numbers – the Nielsen numbers.
In the first half of 2008, CNN and MSNBC both improved their ratings over the same period the year before by more than 50% in the key 25-54 year old demographic. Fox News squeaked through with a measly 4% gain. In the second quarter Fox actually sunk 2%. And Fox continues to draw the oldest audience in cable news. MSNBC beats Fox with about 35% more viewers in the 18-34 demo. So Fox’s audience is not only growing slower than its competitors, it is failing to attract the next generation of news viewers. The only reason for the size of the audience they presently have is that they have cornered the market for conservative couch jockeys who congregate at their cable water cooler. Hence their dramatic overweighting of McCainiacs. The rest of the news consuming audience is splintered throughout the dial in a manner that disguises the fact that they are in the majority. There are far more non-Fox viewers than Fox viewers, but they are dispersed over a half dozen channels or more. Conservatives are all gathering together, glassy-eyed in the Fox clubhouse.
Democrats and progressives need to be reminded that a network that is overtly hostile to their interests holds no attraction for them. There is no reason to grace their airwaves. There is no benefit to doing so. They will not change the minds of the Foxpods watching programs like Brit Hume’s Special Report or the O’Reilly Factor. Their appearances will only be used to humiliate them and then to lay claim to being “fair and balanced.” It simply makes no sense to ally with a organization that is working openly and vigorously for your defeat. Can it be any clearer that people like Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes, Neil Cavuto, and Sean Hannity are the enemy?
And if it isn’t enough that Fox News is avowedly opposed to the goals of Democrats and progressives, then the fact that viewers are turning away from Fox while the market is growing should convince them of what the rest of the country has already decided – that Fox is not a news network, it is a tool for right-wing propaganda and disinformation. That’s why their audience share is shrinking. And that’s why we must not grant them the credibility our association implies. Just stay the HELL off of Fox News!
This beast has a ravenous appetite and we should not be throwing it chum. Leave it to whither and parish and cease to threaten our land and well-being. We are better rid of it. Starve The Beast!