Fox News In Critical Condition

In the first quarter of 2008, Fox News was the slowest growing cable news network (10%), behind MSNBC (66%) and CNN (87%). For the first time in six years they finished in 2nd place. Now, in the first month of the 2nd quarter, the diagnosis is even worse.

Ratings April 2008

Notably, Fox is showing a 14% decline form their year-ago numbers, while their arch nemesis, MSNBC, posts a 9% increase. This comes in the midst of a contentious election year when demand for news is uncommonly strong. Why then is Fox waning? The same dynamics I wrote about a month ago are still in play today:

“The stagnation of Fox’s audience can be traced in part to the downward spiral of the Bush presidency. Fox has long tethered its fortunes to a conservative ideology that has fallen out of favor.”

Mainstream audiences are less interested in the partisan cheerleading of right-wing zealots. They may also be tiring of the Crossfire-style tongue lashing engaged in by the modern punditocracy. A case in point is Keith Olbermann’s Countdown, which has been criticized for avoiding confrontation by declining to book adversarial guests. But its strategy is validated by consistently being the fastest growing program on cable news. The numbers for April show that it is the only program to grow (+21%), compared to CNN’s Campbell Brown (-23%) and Fox’s Bill O’Reilly (-12%).

MSNBC also benefited from the contributions of the rest of its lineup (Race For the White House, Hardball, Verdict) which were all either stable or higher, while their competition was uniformly lower. Even Countdown’s repeat contributed by improving on last year’s Doc Block by 10%.

What is particularly disturbing is that, in this environment where Fox News is gasping for air, the Democratic candidates for president chose this week to succumb to the howl of publicity hounding. What we already know about the narrow-minded nature of Fox’s audience, combined with the evidence that it is shrinking precipitously, should be enough to convince rational Democrats to remove Fox News from their itinerary.

This is not the time to surrender. The Democratic embargo of Fox News has almost certainly played a part in the network’s decline. Their programming has suffered by being over-weighted with right-wingers and Republicans. They have resorted to whining on air about the kids who won’t play with them. If it wasn’t hurting them they wouldn’t mention it. Now, with Fox on the ropes, Democrats should stay strong and resist whatever urge it is that compels them to act against their own interests by accepting invitations to a party from a host that seeks only to diminish them.

Let’s hope that now that the thrust and parry of the Obama/Clinton appearances on Fox are history, they can manage to rein in their impulses and get back on the team. Fox is hostile territory and our generals should not be giving them aid and comfort.


15 thoughts on “Fox News In Critical Condition

    • See the 2nd link in the story above.

  1. I couldn’t agree more…Fox news is no more than a tabloid channel and real voters seeking for unbiased media coverage like myself, get nauseated watching Fox News. It’s a disgrace to all media reporters who actually take their jobs serious, not to mention their blatant racism! check out “”

    • Thanks for the link. They have some great videos.

  2. All the links attached to the article seem pretty dated. I’ve attached the following link to MediaBistro’s April numbers(pdf). which puts FNC anything but “on the ropes.”

    • Huh? There are 2 links. One that references my previous article last month and one that is the source of the ratings from yesterday.

      Your link is only a program ranking that doesn’t show the downward trend of Fox News – only that it is presently in the lead, which we already knew.

      Thanks anyway.

      • Sorry Mark, I was looking at the links at the end of the article. My bad…

        So, the situation is analogous to two baseball teams playing for the divisional title a year apart. In year one, Team A won by twelve games over Team B. On year two, Team A only won the division by 10 games. In this analogy, would anyone really say that Team A was in a “free fall”? No, not even if all the losing teams uniformly agreed that Team A “sucked.”

        Percentage +/- are fun, but actual numbers are a better basis for judging what is essentially a popularity contest; that’s why they use them to pick the prom queen.

  3. BTW, wasn’t the guy in the graphic Oliver North’s attorney during the Iran/Contra hearing?

    • C’mon tg, you don’t recognize your pal Rupert Murdoch? 😉

      • Nope. The only one I’ve got of Rupe is from the swimsuit edition.

    • Since you agree with Mark, I assume you’re writing to me. Thanks for the insightful comments. The logic and reasoning are exemplary. I’ll give your suggestion the full consideration it merits.

  4. I’m not sure what kind of dream world you’re all living in but Fox has been on top for a while now.

    even my post shows the current ratings for the last couple of days.

  5. It looks like the snailmail postering attack is working against thiis “pretend” news outlet. WAY TO GO PEOPLE KEEP TURNING THEM OFF AND HURT THEM IN THE POCKET BOOKS!

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