The election season has been a boon to the cable TV biz. All three of the news networks have enjoyed higher ratings. But the distribution of the audience expansion has not been exactly equal.
Fox News, the long-time leader, retains its position and moves up from fourth to second. CNN has a respectable showing by bumping up four steps from ninth to fifth. But MSNBC pulls off the master stroke by leaping from twenty-third to ninth, marking its first appearance in the top ten.
Much of the strong performance of MSNBC has to be credited to their powerhouse prime time lineup grounded by Keith Olbermann’s Countdown. But the real difference was made by the launch of Rachel Maddow’s new program, which has burst onto the air to great acclaim and audience appreciation. Her program seems to have revitalized the whole prime time schedule. As a result MSNBC is more frequently having nights like last night where the three hour block from 7:00pm to 10:00pm was number one, beating both CNN and Fox.
It is because of performance like this that Bill O’Reilly is whining about the Nielsen ratings being fixed. He just can’t bring himself to accept that more people are tuning him out and Olbermann in. To O’Reilly, any evidence that he is not the popular icon he imagines himself to be, must have been forged by his enemies who conspire against him from their underground lairs. As for Maddow knocking out both Larry King and Hannity and Colmes, after just a few weeks on the air, there is little precedent for such instant success.
The writing is on the wall. With the three news networks all bunched much closer together, Fox News is becoming ever more hysterical as their agenda is being rejected by America. So they try harder to push ridiculous fabrications, but the result is they make themselves look even sillier and they lose more viewers. In the past few months they’ve gone from calling Barack Obama a Muslim to branding him a Socialist. Sometime between now and election day, look for Fox to reveal that Obama and the Boston Strangler were never photographed together. Hmmm…Coincidence?