Nine years ago, when FoxNews sprinted past CNN to become America’s number one news network, I attributed its ratings gains to the election of George Bush and the triumph of Fox-watching conservatives. I figured conservatives would be savoring their victory while liberals were averting their eyes in disgust. For the next eight years, I measured political sentiment in the United States by comparing the size of the FoxNews audience with the combined size of the CNN/MSNBC audience. In this space, I even predicted, with reasonable accuracy, the percent by which Barack Obama won the election based on the split in the news audience.
Now, seven months after Barack Obama’s victory, CNN’s ratings have gone down the drain. From May of last year to May of this year, CNN lost 22% of its total primetime audience. MSNBC was down 2%, while FoxNews was up 24%. In the key advertising demographic (25-54), Fox was up 31%, CNN was down 37% and MSNBC was down 26%. In hard numbers, Fox had 109,000 more viewers than last year while CNN lost 113,000. CNN averaged fewer than 200,000 25-54 viewers in primetime. Even MSNBC averaged more viewers than that.
Total day was nearly as bad, with Fox up 24% and CNN down 7%. MSNBC was down 2% in total viewing. Fox is beating CNN almost two-to-one in most categories.
There’s no need to throw any more numbers at you–Fox is gaining, CNN is wilting. Why is this happening when the country still seems about 58-42 in favor of Obama? My best guess is the passion of those who detest Democrats, liberals, and in particular, Barack Obama.
You don’t think it could also have anything to do with moments such as this and this, do you? And as P.J. Gladnick of Newsbusters asks, “Maybe the TV audience is growing weary of the MSM treating Barack Obama as Sort of God and want some realistic news coverage of his administration.”
Then there’s this quote from Reese, which Gladnick also highlights:
But, then again, maybe all of the above are wrong. Maybe it’s simply the need for an enemy, the desire to detest is greater than the power to tolerate; maybe it’s the need to blame somebody else for the bad things that are happening in our lives that drives viewers to Fox. Perhaps those viewers are the next generation of the rich socialites in the old New Yorker cartoon, who dressed up to go to the newsreel theatre and hiss FDR*. Only now they can do it at home, watching FoxNews. Maybe the joy of defeat is underestimated.
Only if you have to smile and go on the air at the Most Busted Name In News.
Unlike Reese’s fantasies that Fox has millions watching it who dress in spats and talk like Thurston Howell, Fox is a populist channel, not an elitist one. That’s in sharp contrast to CNN, whose on-air personalities literally sneer at the middle class when they spot a thoughtcrime occurring, when they’re not calling them Nazis. And plenty of wealthy California and Northeast Corridor liberals were thrilled to vote for Obama, especially after CNN spent 2008 carrying his water and avoiding substantive discussions of the candidate’s myriad of flaws, to the point where, in late November of 2008, a journalist at CNN International could write with a straight face about the newly elected president, “The Americans who are comparing him to those remarkable predecessors are putting a lot of faith in a man they barely know.”
If only he could have passed the word to his employer duing the election year.
* Of course, in retrospect, the fantasy socialites that Peter Arno imagined in his 1936 New Yorker cartoon actually had good reason to be angered by FDR’s policies.