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.


10 thoughts on “MSNBC’s Primetime Trounces Fox News Since Election Day: Maddow And O’Donnell Soar

  1. I think people may be exhausted after the election, and have taken a break. Nonetheless, congratulations to MSNBC for its ratings success. We’ll see if it can retain its numbers. If nothing else, it will provide you an opportunity to scrutinize them a bit more for a change since they’ll be the top dog.

    One of the things I don’t like about these evening shows is that they tend to have the same guests/analysts/pundits. I like Dick Morris, not for his accuracy, but for his twisted analysis. I rarely agree with him, and he has proven himself to be wrong much more often than he is right. It’s amazing how someone can take a set of facts or numbers and completely spin them in the opposite direction from what one might think. I think he enjoys being a contrarian, hoping one of these days, he’ll be right and everybody will think he’s a freakin genius. His genius is in how he explains his way out of being wrong because of this or that factor that “came from left field” or other nonsense.

    I don’t like Sarah Palin and Van Susteren’s connection with her diminishes her credibility.

    As for MSNBC, there’s a competition over who is more “Sean Hannity-esque”, Chris Matthews or Ed Schultz. My vote is for Ed. I’m surprised you didn’t mention that other pillar of MSNBC strength, Rev. Al Sharpton. I find Rachel Maddow’s style most annoying of all, and I don’t watch Lawrence O’Donnell enough to have a strong opinion. One thing I will say about MSNBC, all the evening shows are every bit as partisan, if not more overtly partisan (à la Hannity? than FOX’s…but that’s just me.

    • Glad to hear you’re no fan of Palin, but sorry to hear that your are a fan of Morris. Anyone in any other job that screwed up as much as Morris wouldn’t have a job for long.

      As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t think there is any comparison between MSNBC and Fox. Neither Matthews nor Schultz is anything like Hannity because they may be partisan, but they don’t make shit up – like Hannity does.

      • That really is the main difference as I see it. MSNBC has a reputation of truth telling and obviously want to keep that in tact. That is the reason I go there. (It appears others are learning that as well) When you fact check them, you get confirmation, not surprises. If they make mistakes (and let’s be honest, there are very few) they tell you they made a mistake, feel bad about it and make the necessary corrections.

        Fox? Not so much. Which is one of many reasons why their viewers are so woefully uninformed. I watch on occasion and am continually amazed at the overt manipulation that is practiced there. For the uneducated and misinformed, I can understand how they get “locked in”. Fox knows what they want to hear and gives it to them. Roger Ailes saw the rightwing market for what it is and being the capitalist he is, took advantage of them.

        Rachels’ style is exactly why I like her. She’s able to call “bullshit” without being obnoxious about it. Lawrence has inside experience into the workings of congress and gives a unique perspective others can’t.

        • What complete and utter partisan horsecrap.

          • Thanks, Red. I agree with your spot-on description of Fox News.

    • You got it right, Mark fools himself into thinking MSNBC is less propaganda like than fox news – it’s just different propaganda (ie leftist).
      Fox news will get what it deserves because of its blatant partisan tone as will MSNBC. Of course Mark can’t argue for just honest news, which would be best for everyone.

      • “just honest news” is the reason Foxnews came into existence. Rightwingers back in the day didn’t like the fact that honest news seemingly always makes the right seem heartless, not for the masses, non compassionate jackasses. So rightwingers like ailes, instead of abandoning those core conservative principles, decided to create a news channel that would gob some frosting on those principles and call it freedom cake.

        • I can’t even remember how or why fox news came into existence – I’m sure your recollection is based on your delusional belief in liberal only media and hatred of anything you don’t believe. By the way, i’m not sure you even know what freedom even means – it includes my right to be as heartless as I want.

  2. In my defense, freedom does mean something different to me than the cheerleaders at fox and the chickenhawks they fawn over. You hit the nail with that guess Steve, so good job and have a great Thanksgiving.

  3. Fox, like Bush, has the terrorism of 9/11 to thank for all of its success. Now that people aren’t scared like back then, they just sound like crazy people who are mad all the time.

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