In another embarrassingly weak performance, Fox News has suffered a ratings fall-off in February 2018 that signals more trouble ahead. Fox’s declining fortunes are becoming a regular event. In January the network dropped fourteen percent in primetime. Now February has topped that with an additional fifteen percent decline. Meanwhile, MSNBC gained significantly in both months of this new year.
In January Rachel Maddow outperformed Hannity, and all other cable news programs, in the key audience demographic of 25-54 year olds. She came just short of repeating that performance in February with an average of 635,000 viewers per night. Hannity edged her out with 643,000. However, of the twenty days in February, Maddow won a majority (eleven) of them.
Maddow’s practice of covering breaking news and the unfolding scandals of the scandal-ridden Trump administration has proven to be an unqualified success. Her deep dive into research and expert analysis continues to draw devoted viewers. Two years ago no one would have predicted that Fox would be a second place news network. Fox actually moved Hannity into a direct time period competition with Maddow in an attempt to blow her out with his top rated program. That didn’t go exactly according to plan and must be gnawing at Hannity and his Fox bosses.
Consequently, Hannity’s program is sinking into ever more ludicrous conspiracy theory territory. He is challenging Alex Jones as the right-wing’s most unhinged crackpot. On almost every show Hannity ignores actual news of Trump’s daily failures. Instead, he features topics exploring Hillary Clinton’s ancient and baseless controversies, or some version of the alleged “deep state” takeover of America. And of course, Hannity is serving his master in the White House with constant attempts to slander special counsel Robert Mueller and the FBI.
These subjects are also spread across the Fox News schedule. It’s why Fox viewers are so often shown to be more uninformed (or ill informed) than viewers of any other news network. And it is probably contributing to the overall audience decline at Fox as people seek out actual news and information relevant to their lives. But it is consistent with the Fox News commitment to defend Trump at all costs.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.
The Fox News mission has always been to prop up the conservative, Republican agenda. But it’s more immediate objective is to discredit the investigations into Trump’s unsavory connections to Russia (and other financial corruption). And flagrant propagandists like Hannity, Tucker Carlson (who just called Democrats anti-American), and the “Curvy Couch” potatoes of Fox and Friends, are focused intently on smearing America’s law enforcement and intelligence institutions. They are putting their rancid partisanship before the interests of the country. And America’s television viewers are reacting with disgust and seeking out more credible reporting. Which is good news for Maddow and MSNBC.