MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell Still Stomping Fox News

This is beginning to be something of a trend. Last week MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell crushed their Fox News competition – again. The week-long average for Maddow in the 25-54 demographic was 378,000, vs. Sean Hannity’s 352,000. O’Donnell bested Greta Van Susteren 359,000 to 245,000.

MSNBC Stomping Fox News

The Ed Show continues to lag behind his network companions, but perhaps he should be cut some slack because he is also airing opposite the highest rated program on cable news, The O’Reilly Factor. Even so, MSNBC’s primetime lineup managed to beat Fox News outright on two nights (Wednesday and Thursday).

The frequency with which MSNBC is topping Fox dispels any notion that this is an anomaly. In fact, from election day through November 30, Maddow and O’Donnell beat Hannity and Van Susteren by 13% and 20% respectively. The full primetime averages for this period for Fox and MSNBC are separated by only 2% with O’Reilly lifting Fox barely into the lead.

Fox News can no longer boast that they are the runaway leader in cable news. Before long they may not be the leader at all. Their audience may be tiring of being lied to and they might not appreciate the filters that Fox has put between them and the real world. There can be only so many times that someone can discover that what they thought they knew for sure was not even close to correct. And people who get their news from Fox have been in that situation too many times already.

Even Fox News executives recognize that by building a bubble of misinformation they alienate their viewers and destroy their credibility (what little they have). Consequently, Fox CEO Roger Ailes has thrown a rug over two of his top contributors, Karl Rove and Dick Morris. Producers must now get prior permission before booking them. Not that that alone would change much, because Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, and the rest of the Fox menagerie will still be honking feverishly at perceived enemies and invented scandals.

In the coming months there may be some dramatic shifts in the cable news arena. Fox’s wobbly leadership will continue to be challenged by MSNBC’s post-election burst of energy. And CNN will likely being putting pressure on both when their new president takes the helm in late January. At this point, I wouldn’t place any bets because literally anything can happen. Who would have predicted a year ago that a lesbian Rhodes scholar (Maddow) would be knocking out the boob tube’s biggest boob (Hannity)?

[Update:] Jealously rears its ugly head. In retaliation for having the audacity to get better ratings than Hannity, Fox is now bashing Maddow for getting a Grammy nomination for the spoken word reading of her book, Drift: The Unmooring Of American Military Power. And the tone of Fox’s attack is typically juvenile as they resort to calling her “Rachel Madd-Cow.”

Fox Nation Maddow

Seriously, how old are these people? Or is this just the only level of discourse they think their audience can comprehend?

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.

MSNBC: #1 Cable News Network In Primetime For Two Days Post-Election

The reelection of President Barack Obama was certainly a gratifying victory for Democrats and supporters of a moderate path forward for America. However, it also seems to have been a victory for the left-of-center cable news network, MSNBC.

MSNBC Crushing FoxFox News has been dominating the cable news ratings for about a decade. The primary reason for that is their having corralled all of the right-wing viewers while everyone else is scattered amongst the other networks. Nevertheless, that distinction gives them bragging rights and an over-sized reputation.

However, for the days (two, so far) that have followed the election, MSNBC has usurped the leader’s crown and ascended to become the number one network in cable news for primetime. In fact, on Thursday MSNBC beat Fox for the whole broadcast day. MSNBC performed well above their third quarter averages for their primetime programming, which had already outperformed their 2011 third quarter by more than twenty percent.

Almost every primetime program on MSNBC beat their Fox competition. The only exception was Ed Schultz who is up against Fox’s highest rated show, the O’Reilly Factor. Schultz, however, did increase his own ratings considerably, just not enough to surpass O’Reilly.

The standouts were Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell who trounced Sean Hannity and Greta Van Susteren, respectively. Maddow exceeded Hannity by 27% on Wednesday and a whopping 75% on Thursday. O’Donnell dunked Van Susteren on Wednesday by 64% and by 32% on Thursday.

This isn’t a one-time occurrence either. In September MSNBC bested Fox during the Democratic convention. Then they repeated their win after the release of the famous “47%” video of Romney secretly recorded at a Florida fundraiser.

It is notable that MSNBC achieved their win over Fox by growing their own audience while Fox’s audience remained fairly stable. So this isn’t a case of Fox’s viewers having tuned out the news after a depressing defeat. It remains to be seen whether this is a mere bump in the election afterglow, or a serious turnaround in the cable ratings race. But it is clear that there is room for MSNBC to grow and make a credible challenge to Fox’s dominance.

Even MSNBC Gets A Convention Bounce: Still Beating Fox News

The Democratic National Convention last week provided an opportunity for MSNBC to introduce themselves to a wider audience. And that they did. The channel was viewed in primetime by more than nine million people during the three days of the convention. That’s nearly 10% higher than the RNC viewership. And for the first time ever they scored a ratings victory over top-rated Fox News for a full week.

With the conventions over MSNBC still has the glow of victory about it. On Monday September 10, Rachel Maddow beat Sean Hannity by 12% in the key 25-54 year old demographic. Lawrence O’Donnell had an even bigger margin of victory (29%) over Greta Van Susteren. And for good measure, the repeat of The Ed Show beat the repeat of the O’Reilly Factor, and Maddow’s repeat beat Hannity’s. That’s four solid hours on top for MSNBC.

These wins were achieved without the help of the convention. And the programs on Fox were stacked with guests that should have been big draws for them. Hannity featured Tea Party darling, Sen. Rand Paul. Van Susteren touted an exclusive with Rep. Darrell Issa who has been hammering the Obama administration over the salacious (and phony) Fast & Furious controversy.

If MSNBC can hold just a portion of these numbers over time, it could signal a turnaround in the cable news hierarchy. MSNBC has not been particularly successful in building their audience, while Fox has masterfully captured the glassy-eyed disciples of conservatism. Time will tell if this is a blip or a trend.

In related news, the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press released their post-convention survey of attitudes and opinions of the candidates and their events. The headline notes that President Obama was overshadowed by keynoter Bill Clinton. That provides a stark contrast for the RNC where Mitt Romney was similarly overshadowed by Clint Eastwood. Who would you rather be overshadowed by? And Fox News viewers affirm Pew’s findings:

Fox News Poll - Clint Eastwood

Fox News Ignores Donald Trump’s NBC Ties

For much of the past decade Fox News has been a virulent opponent of NBC. They have severely lashed out at its news division and many of the hosts on their MSNBC cable arm. The attacks have ranged from NBC being in bed with President Obama to being responsible for the deaths of American soldiers in Iraq.

Rupert Murdoch’s news empire has made it their mission to destroy NBC. In addition to castigating people like Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow, they aimed their vitriol at the executive suites. Bill O’Reilly famously called GE’s CEO Jeffrey Immelt “a despicable human being.” Meanwhile, Murdoch’s New York Post trades in gossipy articles about Olbermann’s mental health and even published his home address, a despicable act whose only purpose was to incite acts of violence.

That makes it all the more curious that Fox News has not said a single derogatory word about Donald Trump’s affiliation with NBC. Does Fox know that “The Apprentice” is an NBC program? This fact seems to have evaded their attention entirely. After so many years of lambasting NBC as a bastion of liberal propaganda, why do they suddenly have no complaints? In fact, why aren’t they praising NBC for employing one of their favorite conservative prospects for the GOP nomination for president?


The only place I have heard any criticism of NBC for its affiliation with Trump is on MSNBC. That’s a rather startling turn of events as it is almost unheard of for a network to permit such intramural attacks. But MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell has been unrelenting in his denouncement of Trump’s show and of NBC for running it. He has noted its declining ratings and mocked its ludicrous presentation of iconic wackos like LaToya Jackson and Gary Busey. And O’Donnell was not the least bit reserved in saying that…

“The NBC standard for crazy people in their primetime schedule saying evil and hateful things…apparently you can do that on NBC.”

O’Donnell, like many others, believes that Trump’s prospective campaigning is only about ratings for his struggling program. If that’s true he is failing miserably. The last episode of Celebrity Apprentice drew 7.6 million viewers, down from 8.2 million the previous week and 9.7 million the week before that, right after he began his Birther spiel. That likely reflects the response of entertainment program viewers who are turned off by Trump’s politicking, particularly the ignorant, dishonest manner in which engages in it.

Both Fox and NBC are tiptoeing around whether their employees are de facto candidates for president. NBC is being coy about Trump even as he polls his Apprentice contestants on-air as to whether he should run (Meatloaf and Star Jones have endorsed him). Fox has suspended contributors Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich while permitting Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin to continue to exploit their Fox presence. [Note: Santorum and Gingrich have just one week to make their intentions known or Fox will cut them loose. No news on Huckabee or Palin]

But only Fox has demonstrated full-blown hypocrisy by completely avoiding the relationship between NBC and Trump, despite their prior obsession with bashing NBC. Could it be that they don’t want to hamper his idiotic promotion of Birtherism so that he can continue to disparage the President? Or are they just reluctant to draw attention to the fact that NBC isn’t as liberally biased as they pretend? Either way Fox is affirming their own dishonesty and lack of journalistic ethics. But then, that isn’t really news, is it?