Washington politics in 2018 so far promises to be a rollicking ride with unrelenting foolishness and embarrassments from the White House. In a few short days Donald Trump has managed to insult El Salvador, Haiti, and the entire continent of Africa. His former campaign chair and White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon, was quoted accusing the President’s son of treason, and then was subpoenaed by special counsel Robert Mueller. And growing concerns about Trump’s mental fitness spurred him to laughably declare that he’s a “stable genius.”
However, with regard to the Nielsen ratings of the cable news networks, the new year is starting off pretty much the way last year concluded. Rachel Maddow continues to surge with poignant reporting on subjects that America’s news consumers are clearly interested in. She is dominating her competition on Fox News and providing a boost to her colleagues on MSNBC. Meanwhile, Fox News is more often finding itself in the unfamiliar position of an also ran with reporting that is becoming more deranged everyday. They appear to be adopting the editorial lunacy of Alex Jones’ Infowars and other right-wing fringe outlets that specialize in conspiracy theories and propaganda.
In the first two weeks of 2018, Maddow has won every single night in the key 25-54 year old demographic. She’s consistently beating Sean Hannity and every other cable news program in primetime. She has a twenty-one percent average margin of victory over Hannity (686K vs. 568K) for the first half of January. Maddow is also topping Hannity in total viewers by about eight percent (3.1M vs. 2.9M), driven by victories in seven out of nine nights.
MSNBC is seeing its schedule score additional victories with the programs that follow Maddow. The 11th Hour with Brian Williams beat Fox News @Night with Shannon Bream every night. The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell beat Fox’s Laura Ingraham Angle eight out of nine nights. And MSNBC took the whole primetime block four nights during the period.
Maddow’s dominance of Hannity is a huge embarrassment for Fox News. He was the only old-timer left after Bill O’Reilly was fired for serial sexually predatory behavior, and Megyn Kelly quit in part due to the sexual harassment she suffered. That left Hannity as the de facto face of Fox News. And as he drifted further over the edge of wingnut extremism his ratings were battered by his fetish for Hillary Clinton’s emails and a tedious obsession with the debunked Uranium One non-scandal.
With each new day Fox News is cementing its role as the state-run TV news network. If they think they will restore their past glory by sucking up to Donald Trump, the most unpopular president in history, they are going to be sorely disappointed. But don’t expect them to change course now. Fox News will continue to lavish undeserved praise on Trump, and defend his every failure, for the foreseeable future. At this point they have no clue, or interest, in functioning as a legitimate news operation. With Rupert Murdoch and his sons running the network it will remain a rabidly partisan source of racist, war mongering, science denying, treasonous Trumpism, and toadying for the GOP (Greedy One Percent).
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.