On his program Monday, Bill O’Reilly had another episode of Ratings Derangement Syndrome. I first reported this malady exactly one year ago when O’Reilly became unhinged at what he believed was a conspiracy by Nielsen to destroy him:
“The bottom line on this is there may be some big-time cheating going on in the ratings system, and we hope the Feds will investigate. Any fraud in the television rating system affects all Americans.”
Of course the Feds have no oversight authority to investigate private polling firms. And O’Reilly had no evidence of wrongdoing anyway. It’s also interesting to note that O’Reilly has no problems with Nielsen’s data now that they are reporting a rosier picture of his program’s performance. But he still has his knickers in a twist over any media critic who dares to question his primacy. This most recent outburst began with a declaration dripping in hyperbole and delusions of grandeur.
“Fox News is now the most powerful news organization in the United States of America, and that means in the world.”
It is statements like that that require linguists to create new adjectives, because supercilious, delusional, and narcissistic, simply don’t cut it anymore. O’Reilly still doesn’t get that Fox reaches a mere 1% of the American public. The vast majority of news consumers are opting to watch programs other than his. O’Reilly was responding to criticism from Time Magazine’s Joe Klein, who raised O’Reilly’s ire by saying that, “Fox News peddles a fair amount of hateful crap.” O’Reilly ought to be grateful to Klein for being so gentle. The truth is Fox News peddles a huge amount of hateful crap. But instead, O’Reilly’s misguided indignation led him to spew a batch of unmitigated lies:
“Look what’s happened. Fox News thirteen years on the air, OK?. Wipes out every other cable network, OK?. It’s not even close. Now, we’re approaching, the Factor is approaching Katie Couric numbers. We’re real close to Katie Couric numbers. We beat everybody else. Good Morning America. Nightline. I think the Today show is a little bit ahead of us, but it’s close.
First of all, Fox News does not wipe out every other cable network. They lead only amongst cable “news” networks. TBS, ESPN and USA, routinely beat Fox News (it’s not even close), but O’Reilly failed to make that distinction.
Secondly, O’Reilly’s contention that he is approaching Katie Couric numbers is laughable. Primarily because it wouldn’t be that much of a feat. Couric is the worst performing broadcast news program. But to compound his comedic dishonesty, he doesn’t come close to Courics ratings. Couric’s average of approximately 5.5 million is almost twice O’Reilly’s 3 million viewers. and the top rated NBC News brings in about 8.5 million, nearly triple O’Reilly.
Finally, O’Reilly doesn’t beat Good Morning America. Nightline, or the Today show. Setting aside the fact that these shows don’t even compete with O’Reilly, and their time periods have an entirely different potential audience, he still fails to best them. In fact, the Today Show also nearly doubles O’Reilly’s numbers even though it is on in the early morning hours while O’Reilly is on in primetime.. He could have claimed a victory over CBS’s perennial loser, The Early Show, but for some reason didn’t bother.
In the end, this is just another display of O’Reilly’s dishonesty and arrogance. And despite his objections, and his egotistical fantasies, he is only illustrating why knowledgeable observers do not regard Fox as a news network. It is merely a platform for self-serving propaganda, manic paranoia and partisan disinformation.