Rachel Maddow is the #1 Cable News Program for First Quarter of 2019 Despite Trump’s Fox News Hype

The Rachel Maddow Show has achieved yet another milestone in her program’s ratings surge. She has been outperforming her competition since the midterm election last November. That includes staggering routs of Fox News and its primary Trump-fluffer, Sean Hannity.

Rachel Maddow

In a press release from MSNBC, Maddow is shown to have beaten “all other FOX News and CNN shows, according to Nielsen data from December 31, 2018 through March 28, 2019.” Furthermore, “this quarter was ‘Maddow’s’ highest-rated quarter ever in total viewers, averaging 3.07M total viewers at 9pm.” It’s a record-breaking achievement that demonstrates the audience appeal for an aggressively honest brand of reporting that respects the viewer and delivers facts that are well-sourced and documented.

The success of Maddow’s program was mirrored by much of the MSNBC schedule. The network’s Monday-Friday, 9:00am-5pm, viewing grew by a larger margin (17%) than Fox News, which actually declined two percent. The same goes for total day viewing that saw a nine percent increase for MSNBC versus a two percent drop for Fox News.

Additionally, The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell bested its Fox competition in its time period to be the #1 program for the quarter in both the 25-54 year old demographic and total viewers. It also outperformed Fox by growing ten percent compared to a seven percent decline for Fox. And another bright spot for MSNBC was Nicolle Wallace’s Deadline: White House, which also rang in at #1 against Fox’s long time host Neil Cavuto. And the press release notes that:

“Multiple MSNBC programs also achieved total-viewer ratings highs, including weekdays during ‘MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle,’ ‘MSNBC Live with Hallie Jackson,’ ‘MSNBC Live with Craig Melvin,’ ‘Andrea Mitchell Reports,’ ‘MSNBC Live with Velshi & Ruhle,’ ‘MSNBC Live with Katy Tur,’ ‘MSNBC Live with Ali Velshi,’ ‘MTP Daily,’ ‘The Beat with Ari Melber,’ ‘Hardball with Chris Matthews,’ ‘All In with Chris Hayes,’ and ‘The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell’; and Saturdays during ‘UP with David Gura’ and ‘Weekends with Alex Witt.'”

It must be especially painful for Fox News considering how hard Trump worked to promote his State TV division. At times it was impossible to tell whether Trump was the President of the United States, or of Fox’s Marketing and PR department. At one point in March Trump posted ten Fox News videos in one flurry of weekend rage-tweeting.

This quarter also saw the publishing of an in-depth expose of the clinging embrace between Trump and Fox News by Jane Mayer of the New Yorker. Trump also came to the defense of two of Fox’s most offensive hosts, Jeanine Pirro and Tucker Carlson, whose prafane and insulting rants have cost them most of their advertisers. The Democratic National Committee made a profoundly wise decision to ban Fox from hosting any Democratic primary debates. That decision was affirmed shortly thereafter by a survey that revealed the depth of Fox’s right-wing nuttery. Meanwhile, Trump kept tweeting what he thought was good news about his favorite network.

All in all, it’s another stellar quarter for MSNBC, a network that was once written off as an also-ran that would always trail the perennial leader. And for Fox News it’s a bitter humiliation as their relentless and biased advocacy for Donald Trump, and shameless lying about his critics, proves to be a drag in the ratings race.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Rachel Maddow Leads MSNBC to a January Freeze-Out of Sean Hannity and State TV (aka Fox News)

The new year has started off with big bang for MSNBC and its star anchor Rachel Maddow. For the past couple months her program has been smothering her Fox News competition, Sean Hannity. It began immediately after the midterm election on November 6th and hasn’t slowed down since. And January’s results confirm that it was no fluke. Maddow has definitely caught fire and her sharp analysis and engaging manner of unfolding complex subjects is clearly winning over viewers.

Rachel Maddow, Sean Hannity

Some of the highlights from the January Nielsen ratings include that Maddow was the number one non-sports show on all of cable, not just just news programming. She dominated in both total audience and the advertiser friendly 25-54 demographic. Her success helped drive up the performance of her primetime colleagues Lawrence O’Donnell and Brian Williams. In fact, that bloc of programming won every hour for the entire month.

Maddow’s show contributed to MSNBC’s impressive audience growth. It gained fourteen percent in total day, and six percent in prime time versus January 2018. During the same time period Fox News declined significantly. It’s total day viewership was down eleven percent. In primetime Fox News lost ten percent. And those numbers were even worse for in the 25-54 demo: down twenty-one percent total day, and twenty percent in the demo.

Almost as satisfying as Maddow’s success is the failure of Fox’s Sean Hannity. Once the unchallenged cable news champ, Hannity’s total ratings crashed nineteen percent since the midterms in November. His fall in the demo was a massive thirty percent. His Fox News lead-in, Tucker Carlson, didn’t fare any better. He was Fox’s top program, but he trailed Maddow by seventeen percent in total audience, and by nineteen percent in the demo. It’s a relief to know that America’s television viewers are recognizing the hatred and racism that emanates from the likes of Carlson and Hannity and are changing the channel.

What’s more, Carlson and Laura Ingraham are suffering from an advertiser exodus due to their offensive positions. Carlson mainly for his open advocacy of white nationalism. And Ingraham for her attacks on the kids from Parkland, Florida, who survived the school shooting last year. So their shows are not only losing viewers, but they aren’t making any money either.

In addition to the solid wins by Maddow, there was good news in January’s numbers for the rest of the MSNBC roster. The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell and The 11th Hour with Brian Williams were both number one in both total audience and the demo. Morning Joe rose fourteen percent while its competition, Fox and Friends, sunk ten percent. Hardball was number one in total viewers. And the programs hosted by Chris Hayes, Ari Melber, Stephanie Ruhle, Hallie Jackson, Craig Melvin, Andrea Mitchell, Ali Velshi, and Katy Tur all posted record numbers. One particular standout was Deadline: White House with Nicolle Wallace, which was number one in total viewers, beating perennial Fox News host Neil Cavuto.

The days of Fox News dominating the cable news ratings are definitely over. And thanks for that should go to Rachel Maddow for redefining how a successful news program can be produced. She does not follow the daily tweetstorming of the President, and never hosts panels of belligerent partisans yelling over each other. She presents detailed examinations of serious issues in an honest and accessible way, and respects her audience.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

But some thanks should also go to Donald Trump for behaving like a loathsome cretin whose flagrant lies are driving away whatever few rational thinkers are still left watching Fox News. Those who remain are the barrel-bottom crud who enjoy wallowing in ignorance and will never be pried loose from their cult worship.

Rachel Maddow Beats Her Fox News Competition Every Single Day for the Whole Month of December

The new year is beginning with an incredible boost from the remarkable performance of Rachel Maddow’s program on MSNBC. She has been dominating her Fox New competition, Sean Hannity, ever since the midterm election in early November. But her numbers for December are truly spectacular and may indicate a monumental shift.

Rachel Maddow, Sean Hannity, Fox News

The success of Maddow’s program may even be getting to Donald Trump. While he has never tweeted about her since becoming president, he did run an ad on Facebook that featured her as his top nemesis. Trump is notoriously frightened by strong women (see his fearful behavior around House Speaker Nancy Pelosi). And he has good reason to be scared of Maddow. Her program provides some of the most incisive, detailed accounts of Trump’s criminality and analyses of the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller. That attention to the facts in a comprehensible form has paid off for Maddow.

The Nielsen ratings for The Rachel Maddow Show have exceeded in almost every way possible. She beat the Sean Hannity show every single day for the entire month of December. Granted, he was on vacation for a small part of that time, but so was she. The numbers weren’t even close. Maddow topped Hannity by a whopping forty-seven percent in total viewers. She also whooped him by twenty-one percent in the all-important advertising demographic of 25-54 year olds.

What’s more, Maddow powered MSNBC to historic highs. The network was the third most-watched channel in primetime for all of cable TV, not just cable news. And it was the second most-watched basic cable network across the 24-hour day for 2018. It was the only network that posted double-digit growth over the prior year. And it was number one among African-American viewers for the year.

The rest of the MSNBC schedule also enjoyed record ratings. Lawrence O’Donnell, Brian Williams, and Nicole Wallace regularly beat their time-period competitors. And the dayside programs with Katy Tur, Andrea Mitchell, Ali Velshi, Stephanie Ruhle, Chris Hayes, etc., leaped to new highs. And all of this happened while Fox News either declined or made impotent gains of one or two percent.

This should inform the rest of the media that intelligent, honest, reporting and analysis is a winning programming strategy. The public is tired of deliberately hostile panels and ridiculous attempts to balance facts with lies and nonsense. And as the new year progresses with more revelations from Mueller and the expected oversight hearings in the new Congress, the media needs to rise to the occasion and fulfill its obligations to the people.

That means rejecting Trump’s anti-constitutional assaults on the free press that he frames in Stalinist terms as “the enemy of the people.” Maddow proves that when the press respects the principles of ethical journalism, rather than devolving into State TV flunkies (aka Fox News) the people will reward them them with their viewership, trust, and loyalty.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

March Maddow-ness: MSNBC Dominates Fox News in the March Ratings Championship Game

Two years ago, Fox News was the unchallenged king of the cable news networks with ratings that sometimes exceeded the combined total of CNN and MSNBC. Last year, Rachel Maddow showed surprising strength against her competition, Sean Hannity. But now it is becoming a regular occurrence that MSNBC beats Fox News over significant parts of the daily schedule.

Rachel Maddow

MSNBC’s ratings success is driven by Maddow’s continued surge. She is no longer a quirky thorn in Fox’s side. She regularly wins her time period in the coveted advertising demographic of 18-34 year olds. In March she beat Hannity every single day of the month except for one. Her average audience for the month was 651,000. That compares to Hannity’s average of 568,000. But even more impressive is that Maddow also bested Hannity in total viewers fourteen out of the twenty-one weekdays in the month. Her average for total viewers was 2.99 million vs. Hannity’s 2.87 million.

MSNBC should also be proud of having better audience numbers in the demo than Fox News for most of the evening hours including primetime. Their average from 4:00pm to midnight was 458,400 vs. Fox’s 455,800. The Last Word with Lawerence O’Donnell won its time period thirteen of the twenty-one weekdays in March. And The 11th Hour with Brian Williams came out on top on nineteen days. Both of those programs scored higher than their competition (Laura Ingraham and Shannon Bream respectively) for the full month. And although Fox News generally did better during most of the daytime time periods, Deadline with Nicolle Wallace managed to beat Fox’s Neil Cavuto on eight days.

A weak point in MSNBC’s schedule is All In with Chris Hayes. Which is too bad because it’s an excellent show that has been recognized with multiple Emmys. However, it needs some juice if it’s going to be a decent leadin for Maddow and the rest of their primetime. They should think about pairing Hayes with Joy Reid as a co-host. Reid’s weekend program has been showing strength and is popular among MSNBC’s core audience. And it wouldn’t hurt to consider swapping Nicolle Wallace into Chris Matthew’s Hardball slot. Wallace has demonstrated her ability to pull in viewers, and Matthews may play better in the earlier, newsier part of the day.

The bottom line is that Fox News can no longer consider itself the number one network for cable news. It has been declining with each new reporting period. In January Fox News dropped fourteen percent in primetime. And February topped that with an additional fifteen percent decline. Meanwhile, MSNBC gained significantly in both of those months. February’s percentage gains were over twenty percent. Even worse for Fox News was their actual earnings performance. Their revenue rose less than either of their competitors – a measly seventeen percent. CNN’s rise doubled that to thirty-two percent. And MSNBC rocketed up sixty-two percent.

We can expect Fox’s earnings to fall even more in April with the advertiser exodus they are experiencing due to Laura Ingraham’s reprehensible attack on David Hogg, one of the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school shooting in Parkland, Florida. So far there are at least eighteen major advertisers who have pulled their business from her show. And in the midst of that she just announced that she will be on “vacation” all of next week. For the record, that’s the same thing Bill O’Reilly did after his advertisers bailed en masse and just before he was canned by Fox.

UPDATE: Forbes affirms the above ratings analysis.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Rachel Maddow Starts 2018 With Commanding Lead Over Sean Hannity and Fox News

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.”

Rachel Maddow

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.

Check Yourselves: Fox News Complains that MSNBC Stars Are ‘Cashing In’ on Trump’s Tax Scam

Shortly after Donald Trump and his Republican cronies passed a tax reform bill that gives away millions to to the rich, a few greedy corporations jumped into the media circus to lavish praise on the president who just made them all much richer. AT&T, Boeing, and Wells Fargo were among the companies licking at Trump’s boots by pretending that they were passing on savings to their employees because of the tax reforms. Never mind that some of them had planned to give bonuses long before this bill was passed, just as they do almost every year. Most of the companies have ulterior motives for exalting Trump. Particularly AT&T who is currently battling the administration in its efforts to acquire TimeWarner.

Fox News Lies

Also on this list of sycophants is Comcast, the parent company of NBC. And that connection was all that Fox News needed to invent a story about MSNBC personalities “cashing in” in on the legislation. Fox’s media correspondent, Brian Flood, published a story on the Fox News website with the absurd headline, “NBC star journalists already cashing in on the tax plan they hate.” The article accuses Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell, and others of selfishly taking advantage of a tax bill that they opposed. The article stated that:

The highly paid journalists at NBC and MSNBC who keep blasting President Trump’s tax reforms won’t have to wait for their rates to go down to benefit, since parent company Comcast likes the plan so much it is sending out $1,000 checks to employees.

Comcast announced on Thursday that it would award special $1,000 bonuses to over one hundred thousand employees because of the passage of tax reform and the FCC’s action on broadband.

The cable company’s generosity presumably extends to seven- and eight-figure stars, who have been railing nonstop against the landmark GOP reform as benefiting the rich at the expense of the poor.

The first thing that’s wrong with the headline is that Fox has no evidence that any executives or on-air talent are going to receive a cash bonus. So the whole story is based on an invented premise. Flood says that “the cable company’s generosity presumably extends to seven- and eight-figure stars.” Presumably? Apparently that’s enough to be the foundation of a critical article by the standards of Fox News. However, these sort of bonuses are almost never extended to executive personnel who have a different scale of compensation benefits. What’s more, the average amount of company bonuses (about 1,800.00) is much greater than the one these companies are now touting.

Additionally, the article notes that Comcast’s incentive to provide these bonuses was only partly due to Trump’s corporate tax cuts. It explicitly cites “the FCC’s action on broadband.” Otherwise known as the killing of Net Neutrality. Comcast was likely thanking Trump for eliminating a regulation that will net them billions in profits at the expense of a free and open Internet.

But the most startling logical lapse by Flood was his complaint that it would somehow be improper for MSNBC’s stars to take the money since they have been hammering Trump’s tax scam for weeks. WTF is he talking about. The fact that these hosts would criticize a bill that promised them a significant windfall is proof that they are motivated by principle, not greed. They opposed a bill that would put more money in their own pockets because they knew that millions of other Americas would suffer. Most people would regard that as admirable.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

For Fox News to imply that there would be something untoward about them getting a bonus that they campaigned against is stretching the boundaries of reason beyond recognition. They didn’t want it, they didn’t ask for it, and they aren’t even known to be getting it. But Fox is determined to create scandals where none exist because they haven’t got anything truthful or honest to report. And yet, this is remarkably sloppy, even for Fox News.

Roy Moore’s Alabama Trainwreck Was a Disaster for Fox News and a Big Win for MSNBC

Alabama’s senate race became a national event due the the unique circumstances that marked the election. Roy Moore’s campaign was emblematic of a new movement to hold sexual predators accountable. And his anachronistic racial and religious rigor was reminiscent of the Spanish Inquisition. Donald Trump also figured into the southern soap opera. Despite his sudden amnesia with regard to Moore, the outcome would be a referendum on the President whether Fox News liked it or not. And they really didn’t like it.

Fox News Sad

You’ll never guess who else didn’t like it. Fox News viewers voted with their remotes Tuesday. As the election returns came in, the ratings for Fox News fell off a cliff. And by the time the race was called for Doug Jones they had lost more than half their audience. In the 9:00 hour Fox’s coverage of the race was pretty strong with about 3.8 million people watching (831K in the 25-54 demo). For much of that time Moore was still leading. Rachel Maddow wasn’t far behind with 3.1 million viewers (760K in the demo).

However, the race was called (first by Fox News, oddly enough) at about 10:30. And that saw a drop off for Fox to about 3.5 million (889K demo). But, Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC took off scoring 3.745 million (1.0M demo). And CNN also spiked with 3.5 million (1.5M demo). And by the 11:00 hour, when it was clear that Jones was victorious, Fox News was pitifully defeated. They ended primetime with just 1.8 million viewers (470K demo). That’s less than half the total audience they had before the returns were in That compared to MSNBC’s 3.7 million (947 demo), about twice Fox’s numbers, and CNN’s 3.2 million (1.4M demo).

Clearly Fox News viewers were too upset to continue watching television. Seeing the pedophile they supported lose to an honorable Democrat was just too painful. Never mind that by the next morning most of them were insisting that Moore was never a viable candidate, they never really liked him, and that they are better off without him in the senate making the GOP look bad. That’s pretty much the view taken by Fox News and, not coincidentally, many Republicans and Donald Trump. Not to worry. They still have sexual predator and Russian collaborator (allegedly) Trump and his devoted Deplorables to make them look bad.

On the other hand, Doug Jones’ victory inspired viewers to tune into MSNBC and CNN en masse at the conclusion of the race. This isn’t because the Democrat won. Americans tuned in to the networks where they thought they would get truthful reporting of the results, without the desperate spin of losers trying to make excuses. That’s why the numbers didn’t increase for Fox News even when there was actual news to report. And the Fox cultists who had tuned in early weren’t going to subject themselves to what they considered bad news. A few more nights like this and Fox News will have to cease broadcasting.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Rachel Maddow Grabs Another Weekly Win From Fox News and Floundering Sean Hannity

A few weeks ago Fox News had to realign their schedule due to all the sexual perverts being terminated. First they lost Bill O’Reilly, and then Eric Bolling. They also lost Megyn Kelly, who was a victim of the sexual abuse from both O’Reilly and Fox News CEO Roger Ailes. These scandals gutted most of the network’s primetime lineup. Today they are left with newcomers Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham.

Rachel Maddow

Sean Hannity is the lone holdover and he’s not not exactly holding his own. For one thing, his support for the pedophile Republican senate candidate in Alabama, Roy Moore, is costing him advertisers (see Stop Hannity). His fear and desperation resulting from that caused a major meltdown on Sunday as revealed in a series of hysterical tweets. But his problems don’t end there.

Last week Rachel Maddow pulled off another ratings victory over her new competition. Not that they are competing for the same viewers, but having a Nielsen win during your time period is an important factor in the television marketplace. Maddow’s strength in the ratings against the biggest draw on Fox News is a significant development and a dire dilemma for Hannity.

Maddow and Hannity actually split the week with each winning two nights (Maddow was preempted on Friday by a special program). However, the average over the four nights favored Maddow. That’s because her wins were with larger margins, and where she came in second it was close. All of this points to the weakness of Hannity’s program despite being the top rated show on Fox.

Maddow’s success has had a positive effect on the rest of MSNBC’s primetime. The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell took on Fox’s new Laura Ingraham show and beat her three out of four nights. The same was true for The Eleventh Hour with Brian Williams in it’s battle with another new entry for Fox, Fox News @ Night. The only weak spot for MSNBC is All In with Chris Hayes. But although it isn’t delivering big audience numbers, it has become a sort of Emmy magnet. Hopefully over time viewers will appreciate the high quality of the show and tune in more.

As for Fox, clearly their replacement programs are not performing particularly well. But the bigger problem is that the cornerstone of the schedule, Hannity, is not only failing to maintain the network’s long-time dominance, but it’s also less viable financially as its advertisers fall away. In their last quarterly report, Fox News disappointed stockholders with a seventeen percent drop in ad revenue.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Fox’s troubles are not going to go away anytime soon. Their audience shows signs of weariness with knee-jerk, right-wing propaganda. Some of them want to know what is actually happening in the world, not the Fox News manufactured version of it. And the glassy-eyed ultra-conservatives are starting to drift off to other news outlets like Breitbart that aim to out flank Fox from the right. Even the efforts of Donald Trump, who has been feverishly hyping Fox, have not helped. It’s likely that the fate of Fox News and Trump are going to be tightly bound together in a Titanic sinking. We just have to wait until the iceberg (Russia? Mueller? Sex crimes?) takes its inevitable toll.

Ex-Fox News Anchor Greta Van Susteren’s Failing MSNBC Show is Abruptly Canceled

Score one for the free market. Six months ago MSNBC hired Greta Van Susteren to host an early evening hour program. It was a peculiar choice considering the network’s success with their more progressive personalities in primetime. There was never a good case to be made for a former Fox News host succeeding on MSNBC. Their existing audience surely wasn’t clamoring for more Fox-style news analysis. And no one who watches Fox would be caught dead tuning in to MSNBC.

Greta Van Susteren

Nevertheless, the network’s management took the plunge. An apt metaphor considering how deep the ratings for Van Susteren’s show sank. The show was virtual sinkhole in the schedule. Both its lead-in and lead-out had more viewers and better ratings. People were clearly changing the channel when Van Susteren’s show started.

Van Susteren’s weakness occurred while the rest of the network’s program’s were soaring to record highs. Rachel Maddow has frequently beaten her Fox News competition and landed at the top of all cable news programming. The same is true for her colleague Lawrence O’Donnell. Van Sustern wasn’t even performing as well as Maddow’s and O’Donnell’s repeats.

So after six months, MSNBC management has seen the light and diplomatically announced a parting of the ways. Network president Phil Griffin said:

“MSNBC and Greta Van Susteren have decided to part ways. Greta is a well-regarded television veteran and one of only a few broadcasters who can say they’ve hosted shows at all three major cable news networks. We are grateful to her and wish her the best.”

Griffin also revealed that Van Susteren’s time slot will be filled by Ari Melber. Melber is the network’s legal analyst and host of the weekend show The Point. He has also been a frequent fill-in host for several of the network’s programs. He should be a capable, if not exciting, addition to the schedule. On the down side, he’s just another cable news white guy. Weekend anchor Joy Reid would have been a better, and more stimulating, choice.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

It remains to be seen if MSNBC has realized the folly of their ways. They recently hired or promoted other right-wingers like Hugh Hewitt, Bret Stephens, Charlie Sykes, and George Will. And their big get, Fox News star Megyn Kelly, is already off to a disastrous start. Her NBC Sunday Night show premiered to abysmal ratings and went down from there. NBC execs are already somewhat frantic that she will kill the Today Show when she debuts in September. Time will tell.

Uh-Oh: Rachel Maddow is Under Attack by Sean Hannity and Right-Wing Propaganda Groups

The conservative media machine is marshaling its forces to launch an all-out assault on journalists and pundits who fail to kowtow to Donald Trump. It’s a reactionary campaign in response to the success of the honest reporting by Rachel Maddow and other progressive voices. In recent weeks, Maddow has taken the lead in primetime programs from the previous ratings chart topper, Fox News. The rest of the MSNBC lineup has seen a similar surge in popularity. This massive shift in dominance is mainly driven by the strength of their straightforward reporting about Trump and Russia.

Maddow Hannity

Consequently, those on the right have begun shaking in their boots as their hammer lock on the ratings is broken. The last year has been dreadful for Fox News. Their CEO, Roger Ailes, and top star, Bill O’Reilly, were both terminated in disgrace due to sexual harassment scandals. They are being sued for gender and racial discrimination. And the New York Attorney General is investigating the network for securities violations.

The latest Fox News host to suffer as a result of his own sleazy misconduct is Sean Hannity. He has been pushing a widely debunked conspiracy theory about Seth Rich, a murdered Democratic National Committee staffer. Despite the absence of any facts, and pleas from the family to back off, Hannity has persisted. Even Fox News took down their report on the subject.

The determination of Hannity to spread this phony story has prompted Media Matters to post a list of his advertisers. The purpose was not to start a consumer boycott, but to alert the advertisers to what sort of program they were sponsoring. Then they could decide if it was in their best interest to continue.

Apparently, the desperate losers on the right were not pleased. So they have initiated their own campaign against Maddow and others whom they now refer to as “liberal fascists.” According to Politico:

“The groups plan to pressure advertisers for left-leaning shows like Maddow’s on MSNBC, in hopes that the sponsors will pull their ads. They charge that Maddow and other liberal hosts are peddling conspiracy theories and smearing conservatives with personal attacks.”

“They cited reports of alleged coordination between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian agents as an example of the smears.”

Notice what they’ve chosen as their example of a conspiracy theory. It’s a fact-based report that is affirmed by seventeen U.S. government intelligence agencies. No independent observer disputes that the Russians interfered with the 2016 presidential election to help Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton. And the allegations of collusion are based on numerous reports connecting Trump and his associates with Russian operatives. Many of those connections were hidden by the participants until disclosed by persistent reporters.

The groups involved in the attack on Maddow et al are well known in the conservative hack community. The Media Research Center has a long history of smearing liberals in the press. They favor common right-wing talking points and exploiting lefty “villains” like George Soros. The Media Equality Project is a new entity headed by two former conservative radio talkers, Melanie Morgan and Brain Maloney. They both appeared on Hannity’s program Tuesday night to defend his campaign of slander and promote their anti-Maddow efforts. [Video below]

So far there is no discernible impact from the wingnut brigades. That may be because Maddow’s reporting is wrapped up tighter in facts than anything produced by Hannity and his ilk. The Media Equalizer’s told Hannity last night that they are getting millions of people supporting them. However, their Facebook page has fewer than 5,000 followers and they have even less on Twitter.

But let’s not get cocky. Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, and Lawrence O’Donnell need the continued support of Americans who appreciate honest news analysis. MSNBC still hasn’t signed a contract renewal for O’Donnell. Meanwhile they have hired or promoted the likes of Greta Van Susteren, Hugh Hewitt, and George Will.

The right has a built in advantage with the media because every media owner is a giant corporation whose interests are not aligned with the average American. We have to make sure they know that their financial well being is dependent on serving the public interest. In the meantime, it’s satisfying to see Hannity and his trolls floundering as they try to muddy the waters with their self-serving lies. But we can only expect that to make them more aggressive and repulsive. Stay tuned and stay strong.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Urgent (and hilarious) Update: Hannity is now so desperate that he’s threatening to go after Stephen Colbert. And that’s something Colbert — would absolutely LOVE.