For the past several weeks Rachel Maddow has been enjoying record ratings for her MSNBC program. Not only that, in the Key 25-to-54 demographic, Maddow is beating her direct Fox News competition, Tucker Carlson. The surge in viewers can be attributed to the “gift” of endless atrocities and absurdities courtesy of Donald Trump & Company.
As a result of the program’s accelerating success, Fox News is exhibiting signs of anxiety and desperation. This week Fox News lashed out to criticize Maddow by featuring an analysis of her coverage published by The Intercept. Fox’s headline complained “Report Calls Out Just How Much Time MSNBC’s Maddow Spends on Trump & Russia.”
Oh my. We certainly can’t have that. In addition to beating Fox in the ratings she’s bringing attention to the most damaging scandal of the Trump administration. No wonder Fox is worried. It’s bad enough to be losing to a liberal network, but they’re also failing to protect their boss in the White House. A boss who regards the whole Russia thing as fake news.
Russia talk is FAKE NEWS put out by the Dems, and played up by the media, in order to mask the big election defeat and the illegal leaks!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 26, 2017
Just watched the totally biased and fake news reports of the so-called Russia story on NBC and ABC. Such dishonesty!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 23, 2017
It is the same Fake News Media that said there is "no path to victory for Trump" that is now pushing the phony Russia story. A total scam!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 1, 2017
The criticism that Maddow is spending too much time on Trump and Russia is ironic. It’s exactly that coverage that is propelling her ratings growth. Clearly there is an audience that’s thirsty for the truth on this subject. And Maddow is well aware of that. In a recent interview she told the Hollywood Reporter that:
“We’ve put a lot of effort into the Russia scandal and I don’t regret that, and I intend to be as aggressive as I possibly can on that story because here is a scandal that is of transcendent, historic importance and is existentially about whether or not this presidency should exist or whether it is the product of a crime.”
The article in The Intercept is actually a well researched and written examination of Maddow’s choice of topics. And reasonable readers can agree or disagree with its conclusions. While it does fault her for overdoing the Trump/Russia story, it does so from the perspective that other stories important to progressives were getting short shrift. For example immigration, the Obamacare repeal effort, and Trump’s Muslim ban.
That’s probably not the same position Fox News is coming from. After all, it’s unlikely that Fox wants Maddow to forgo Russia and spend more time on Trump’s other failures. Fox’s only interest is in bashing Maddow and taking back their ratings crown. That may be why Fox left out The Intercept’s acknowledgement that “Maddow’s focus on Russia has helped her ratings, which are at their highest level since 2008.” Or that Maddow is “A supremely gifted journalist who Vanity Fair has dubbed ‘the smartest person on TV.'”
That Fox News would cherry pick bits of this article that they could frame negatively is evidence of their nervousness. They obviously have little to support their position and are stretching for ways to disparage their competition. But linking to an article that’s largely complimentary in order to squeeze out a mild rebuke is a desperation move. Look for more of that going forward as Trump continues to be a fountain of material for Maddow and other liberal journalists. At the same time Fox is having to deal with the fall of serial sexual harasser Bill O’Reilly. The fate of the network’s star attraction is currently hanging by a thread.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.
Here’s a sample of some of the Trump/Russia coverage that Maddow has been doing so well: