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.

MSNBC Has Biggest Black Prime Time Audience on Cable, Fox News Isn’t Even in the Top 10

Last year was a banner year for MSNBC as it ratings surged to unprecedented new highs. Much of this was driven by the soaring popularity of Rachel Maddow, but the rest of the network’s roster enjoyed similar success. Many of the programs achieved their highest ever ratings in 2017, a year that suffered through the painful presidency of Donald Trump.

Fox News MSNBC

There is speculation that Trump’s historically low approval ratings fueled some of the growth at MSNBC as viewers sought out news related to the latest Trump scandal. But that’s far too simple an explanation. Trump’s yammering about what he called “fake news,” but was actually just any news he didn’t like, didn’t fool the American people. They were more interested in credible journalism that relied on facts and honest analysis.

MSNBC benefited from that trend in the information marketplace. But they also benefited from a commitment to producing well-rounded coverage of a diverse nation. As a result, the latest report from Nielsen shows that MSNBC drew more African-American viewers during prime time than any other cable network. That’s not just any other cable news network, but any network of any type. Here are the rankings:

2017 rank Network (000)
’17 vs. ’16
1 MSNBC 483,096 50%
2 VH1 467,189 7%
3 ESPN 458,651 3%
4 OWN 330,729 -21%
5 TNT 322,525 6%
6 BET 322,330 3%
7 Nickelodeon 312,574 7%
8 CNN 306,359 5%
9 USA 286,537 -7%
10 Adult Swim 212,464 -28%

An especially notable omission from that list is Fox News. Their appeal to African-Americans wasn’t even enough to land them in the top 10. So if you ever wondered how Fox News gets away with filling their schedule with such brazenly racist programs and commentaries, these Nielsen numbers might provide the answer.

This certainly was not a new development for Fox News. News Corpse reported in 2014 that Fox’s share of the black audience was a pitiful one percent. This can explain why Fox News doesn’t worry about the consequences of broadcasting overtly bigoted content and dismissing all allegations of racism as “race hustling.” After all, they have little to lose by offending a segment of the television universe that doesn’t watch their programs anyway.

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

There’s no reason to expect any of this to change in the foreseeable future. Fox News is just as devoted to inciting racial animus and division as ever. And their defense of Trump, along with his blatantly prejudiced views and policies, will only exacerbate the situation. If anything, Fox’s prime time lineup has become more racist with Sean Hannity’s hate-speech being joined by white nationalist Tucker Carlson and notorious xenophobe Laura Ingraham. So look for MSNBC to continue its rise in the ratings while Fox News grows more narrowly focused on the all-white, alt-right viewers who represent their dwindling audience.

Rachel Maddow Dominates an Increasingly Hysterical Sean Hannity as 2017 Winds Down

This has not been a particularly good year for Fox News. After the disaster of 2016 that saw their founder and CEO, Roger Ailes, fired for multiple instances of sexual harassment and abuse, 2017 was supposed to be a year of rebuilding. However, their problems escalated as their biggest star, Bill O’Reilly, was also terminated for the same deviant reasons. Several other Fox News hosts and executives were likewise jettisoned, and they faced lawsuits for both gender and racial discrimination.

Rachel Maddow

That left Sean Hannity as the default face of Fox News. He was moved up to the 9:00 pm slot and expected to carry the primetime schedule with newcomers Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham. He would also be airing head-to-head against MSNBC phenom, Rachel Maddow. Surely the most embarrassing outcome for Fox News would be for Hannity to lose to a left-wing lesbian on a liberal network. But as the year comes to a close, that’s precisely what happened.

In the first half of December, Maddow outright beat Hannity nine out of eleven days in the coveted 25-54 year old advertiser demographic. On four of those days she also won in total audience. Her demo margin of victory was an impressive average of 656,000 viewers, more than 50,000 above Hannity’s average. And Maddow helped to carry her colleagues to wins over Fox News. Lawrence O’Donnell took five of eleven nights, and Brian Williams took six of the eleven. [Note: The second half of December is not included in this analysis because most of these programs had guest hosts].

What’s more, Maddow has been steadily pummeling Hannity throughout the year. The annual figures for these programs put Maddow in close contention with Fox’s long-running leaders. In total audience, Maddow grew an astonishing seventy-seven percent. In the 25-54 demo she was the number two program (after Hannity) following a seventy-four percent growth surge. And among younger viewers (18-49) Maddow was number one.

Along with those achievements in ratings, Maddow also won two News and Documentary Emmys this year, something Fox News has never done. Which shouldn’t surprise anyone. Fox News is not regarded as an especially reliable source for news. They exist only to pump disinformation into the muddled heads of Republican partisans and Donald Trump cultists. Their coverage of any issue is predictably focused on advancing right-wing politics and defending Trump for whatever outrageous thing he did or said that day.

And Hannity is the worst of the lot. He openly colludes with Trump, who he reportedly speaks with almost every day. He has appeared in campaign ads for the President. There is simply no more brazenly brown-nosed Trump-fluffer than Sean Hannity. Not even Trump’s TV babysitters on Fox and Friends. And as his fortunes decline, Hannity gets ever more extreme. He is outdoing Alex Jones’ Infowars for crackpot conspiracy theories. This year he has spent hours on pure nuttery like Pizzagate, the Seth Rich murder, Hillary Clinton’s email (still?), and most recently, his fetish for smearing special counsel Robert Mueller. Hannity has led the charge to slander Mueller as a corrupt, dishonest, charlatan determined to stage a coup against Trump. Never mind that Mueller is a decorated Marine veteran with a long and distinguished career in law enforcement. And a life-long Republican to boot.

2018 may bring even greater rewards for Maddow and her MSNBC colleagues. She has the intelligence and the insight to make some very dry subjects both interesting and educational. And there is clearly an audience for smart, honest news analysis. The country yearns for programming that is more light than heat. And that’s what Maddow specializes in. She never books hostile adversaries simply to provoke on-air fights the way Fox and CNN do. Her mission is to inform, not infuriate. And when truth is on one side of the debate, lies are never presented just to have a perception of balance. That’s the Maddow model, and the rest of cable’s newscasters should seek to emulate it. It’s obviously a winning strategy, with the added benefit of having journalistic integrity.

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 Crushes Trump-Fluffer Sean Hannity in November Ratings War With Fox News

Two months ago Fox News moved Sean Hannity’s program to 9:00 pm. It was the latest schedule change resulting from the terminations of Fox anchors (Bill O’Reilly, Eric Bolling) accused of sexual harassment and abuse. For Hannity it was a promotion to a more desirable time slot with a potentially larger audience. He must have been excited for the opportunity.

Rachel Maddow

He very likely regrets it now. The latest Nielsen ratings report for November 2017, has some depressing news for Hannity and Fox News. In the new time period Hannity has been losing to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on a regular basis. The programs are not really competing for the same viewers, but the bragging rights for being number one are important for both promotion and advertising revenue. Hannity is especially hurting on the latter as a result of his support for the pedophile senate candidate in Alabama, Roy Moore. Advertisers have been fleeing the program and a successful Stop Hannity campaign was launched.

The Nielsen ratings results for the month of November reveal another bitter loss for Sean Hannity. With the pressure of going up against Fox’s top program, Rachel Maddow managed to score an impressive victory. That makes her the number one program in all of cable News in the coveted 25-54 year old demographic. Her ratings improved year-over-year by forty-eight percent. Fox News was down eighteen percent.

On the strength of Maddow’s popularity, the rest of the MSNBC lineup benefited as well. It was the only cable news network to grow its total audience from last year, rising thirty percent. Meanwhile CNN and Fox News both declined (-49% and -31% respectively). The MSNBC primetime was a strong contender across the board, finishing either first or second.

For early risers, Morning Joe took second place and delivered its best numbers in the twenty-one year history of the network. It was also the only show in the time period to grow its audience. In the 25-54 demo Morning Joe advanced twenty-two percent. CNN was down just three percent. And the “Curvy Couch” potatoes at Donald Trump’s favorite show, Fox and Friends, fell by twelve percent.

This has to be a satisfying victory for Maddow and MSNBC. Having suffered a year of Donald Trump’s infantile whining about fake news and low ratings, the network can boast that it handily outperformed Fox News (aka State-Run TV). It’s an indication that the country is hungry for real, in-depth reporting and analysis that doesn’t talk down to them. And, more importantly, doesn’t lie or engage in humiliating episodes of fawning over and defending the ignoramus in the White House.

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

As we go forward we will likely see more of the same as Trump’s star falls ever further and the legal noose around his neck gets tighter. Hannity and his Fox News colleagues will undoubtedly ramp up the crazy (just as Trump is doing) in a desperate attempt to keep from becoming totally irrelevant. But their desperation will result in even more ludicrous conspiracy theories and lunatic outbursts. Who knows? This might actually end up being kinda fun to watch.

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.

Fox News Flack Donald Trump Tries to Save Sean Hannity’s Fast Sinking Program

Following an embarrassing “Make America Gag Again” tour of Asia, Donald Trump slinked back into the White House and immediately took up his Twitter machine to regale in his own wonderfulness. Having achieved nothing of significance, while kowtowing to foreign adversaries, the President needed to sing his own praises because no one else with any credibility was going to do it.

Trump Hannity

However, he has not neglected his primary role in public service since pretending to engage in it. As a candidate and an alleged president, Trump has spent more time promoting his PR department (aka Fox News) than any other “official” duty. Fox News has benefited greatly from this arrangement, scoring millions of dollars worth of free advertising. For example, for just one program, Fox and Friends, Trump has tweeted or retweeted 142 times since the beginning of his campaign. And the “Curvy Couch” potatoes were among his first tweets upon returning to the U.S. Note that most of Trump’s Twitter activity is to promote something he recently saw on Fox. This one is promoting something that has yet to air. Apparently they are sharing their programming schedule with him in advance of broadcast:

Trump also wanted his Twitter followers to know how much he suffered while travelling the world. The itinerary that he pitifully regarded as “almost physically impossible” had the added torture of having to watch something other than relentlessly fawning Fox News coverage (i.e. real news):

What’s more, Trump gave a bigly shout out to his most devoted cheerleader on Fox, Sean Hannity. He retweeted this celebration of Hannity’s ratings:

This is the clearest sign that Hannity is big trouble. He has been losing advertisers at a rapid clip since coming out in support of the pedophile Republican running for the senate in Alabama, Roy Moore. The seventeen percent ad revenue slump at Fox News is evidence of the disastrous impact Hannity is having on the network. Consequently, Trump was called in to help plug the leak. But there are some serious problems with the help he’s providing.

First of all, the positive ratings tweet that Trump retweeted is two weeks old. It doesn’t represent the whole picture of Hannity’s ratings performance. He has been frequently beaten by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. The most recent ratings for this past Monday show Maddow trouncing Hannity. No wonder Trump didn’t post something more timely.

Furthermore, the Twitter user Trump retweeted identifies himself as a media analyst, but his account was created less than three months ago and has only sixty-nine tweets. He follows only two Twitter accounts: Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow. He’s also a writer for the ultra-rightist web rag, American Thinker. And somehow Trump found a rotting two week old tweet from this nobody and saw fit to relay it to his glassy-eyed disciples.

Hannity must be hanging by a thread. When Fox News fired Bill O’Reilly it wasn’t because of the tens of millions of dollars that they had to pay out to multiple women who O’Reilly harassed and/or abused. Fox was cool with that. It was because his advertisers had ditched the program and it was no longer financially viable. That’s what Hannity is facing now. That’s why Trump is contributing, in his lame way, to Hannity’s rescue. Even Hannity recognizes that he’s sinking fast. Tuesday night he did a double back flip to throw Roy Moore under the bus:

Trump’s post-Asia tweetstorm was typical self-promotion and lies. It conveyed nothing of value to the American people. As usual he is just consumed with himself and fails to do any of the hard work of governing. He complains about being forced (by whom?) to watch CNN and spews endless praises for his pals at Fox. Yet he insists that he doesn’t have time to watch TV (which he also did five months ago). And in all of that Tweeting he left out any updates to this tweet from two days ago:

He must have forgotten what his “major statement” was. Maybe he’s picked up whatever virus caused Jeff Sessions to forget so much of his recent past with Russians. Or Maybe Trump’s aging and distorted memory is just incapable of functioning anymore.

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

Rachel Maddow Pummels Hannity and Fox News in Primetime Ratings Victory

A few weeks ago Fox News was forced to make some drastic programming changes. They had to terminate Bill O’Reilly due to multiple allegations (and settlements) of sexual harassment. They should have seen that coming since they renewed his contract with knowledge of a massive $32 million payoff. And there was another $13 million to half a dozen other victims. Fox News also fired Eric Bolling, the host of the newly launched The Specialists, for sexual misconduct. Do you notice a pattern?

Rachel Maddow Sean Hannity

With these cancellations there were holes in the schedule that needed to be plugged. Consequently, Fox News decided to move Sean Hannity’s 10:00 pm show into O’Reilly’s slot at 9:00 pm. This put him into a head-to-head battle with MSNBC star Rachel Maddow. It also firmed up Fox’s primetime as three hours of fawning Trump-fluffing, beginning with Tucker Carlson, then Hannity, and the all new Laura Ingraham Angle. It’s been four weeks since Hannity’s move and the ratings already have a story to tell.

Hannity is, without a doubt, Donald Trump’s most cloying sycophant on Fox News. He serves as an advisor to the White House and relentlessly defends any and all Trump atrocities. As for Trump, he posts frequent promotional tweets about Hannity (seventeen just since the inauguration) and has sat for three interviews as President.

Hannity front loaded the first week in his new time slot with high profile guests chosen to spike ratings. They included Fox favorites like Steve Bannon, Bill O’Reilly, and Rush Limbaugh. The second and third weeks, however, were skewed by coverage of the tragic shooting in Las Vegas and its aftermath. But now, as the new schedule settles in, Maddow has returned to the top spot. The hopes Fox News had for toppling Maddow by moving Hannity into direct competition have not succeeded, at least so far.

One of the consequences of that failure is that other Fox News programs are getting scared and beginning to attack Maddow in an effort to blunt her success. For example, Fox and Friends did a whole segment on Maddow’s analysis of the death of four Green Berets in Niger. They never laid a glove on her. In fact, they never even bothered to substantively counter anything she said. They just made catty comments about her demeanor and complained that she has opinions. But just the fact that they talked about her is evidence they are scared. If they didn’t think that Maddow was having an impact, Fox would have ignored her. And she is definitely having an impact.

For the week of October 16, Maddow decisively beat her new competition, Sean Hannity. In the critical 24-54 demographic, she won three days out of five outright, and took the whole week’s average. On Wednesday she had the highest rated program on all of cable news. Her powerful leadin helped The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell to win his time period as well. Even Brian Williams’ The Eleventh Hour came out on top. As a result of these victories MSNBC won the entire week in primetime.

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

Television ratings are a fluid measure of popularity and can be influenced by many factors. Breaking news, popular guest bookings, and competing programs across the dial can shuffle the numbers. But the performance of Maddow’s show after being put to the test by Fox’s highest ratings draw is significant. It shows that quality journalism will find its audience. And even if Fox News has a built-in cult status for tunnel-blind partisans on the right, it isn’t enough to overcome well produced, researched, and presented reporting that is honest and touches the lives of all Americans.

Rachel Maddow’s Brilliant Analysis of the Niger Attack Turns Fox News Heads to Mush

To begin with, it must be noted that the headline above is fake news. The heads of those on Fox News, and their viewers, were already mush. That said, their exposure to Rachel Maddow’s program didn’t make that situation any better. On Saturday morning the “Curvy Couch” potatoes of Fox and Friends spent several minutes with stunned expressions and babbling recriminations as they struggled to unwind Maddow’s commentary.

Rachel Maddow

On Friday Maddow laid out a detailed and well researched examination of what might have led up to four Green Berets being ambushed in Niger. The whole segment is must-see TV, and a demonstration of what real journalism looks like. The gist is that Donald Trump’s curious inclusion of Chad on his latest Muslim ban may have caused them to pull back on their anti-terrorism efforts in Niger. Since they were effective at suppressing groups like Al Shabaab and ISIS in the region, it left our troops vulnerable to attack.

Maddow’s report was taken up on Fox and Friends in a segment (video below) that featured a graphic declaring that “Maddow Blames Trump For Niger Attack.” And since the mission of Fox News, and especially Fox and Friends, is to defend Trump no matter the subject, the F&F crew went to work. They began by asserting that the events Maddow discussed were entirely separate and had no possible relation to one another. Of course, anyone with a functioning cerebral cortex could see the direct linkage. Lacking any substantive rebuttal, co-host Pete Hegseth attempted to mock Maddow’s thoughtful demeanor rather than her facts. Then he accuses her of spinning a wild conspiracy theory as “the leader of the left.” But perhaps the most idiotic remarks were offered by co-host Abby Huntsman, who said this”

“It’s dangerous when the media starts having conversations about this and putting in their own theories that are, as you said, completely unrelated to what actually happened. It’s dangerous, not only for us in terms of figuring out what did happen. But it’s dangerous to the families that lost loved ones over there because they’re the ones who should be the focus of this conversation and somehow we go down these roads oftentimes and it’s such a distraction and it’s such a disservice to this country and what our job is in the media.”

Really? Fox News is whining about media “putting in their own theories”? Is that supposed to be satire? And they are pretending to be upset that the families of the fallen aren’t the focus the conversation even though Trump has still not spoken of them or paid any tribute. The three co-hosts then collectively complained that Maddow is a “lazy” journalist. Never mind that she did the legwork to put together a cogent analysis that offers a possible explanation for why four American soldiers died in Niger. All the Fox Friends did was bitch about it. And they never countered a single fact that Maddow raised with “alternative facts” of their own. And then Huntsmen launched this bit of unintentional hilarity:

“I can’t tell you how many of my friends I talk to, it’s like, they have no idea where to go to figure out what’s actually going on. I hear that from my family, my friends, people I just talk to on the streets.”

Let that sink in. Her own friends and family tell her that they don’t know where to get reliable news. Which means they don’t think they can get it from her or Fox News either. She may have friends and family that are smarter than she and her Fox colleagues. But still not smart enough to understand Dr. Maddow.

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