June 14, 2019

HOW GREG GUTFELD’S SUCCESS EXPOSES THE MEDIA’S CULTURAL BLINDSPOTS:

As Variety noted in May, “Year to date, Fox News’ ‘Gutfeld’ has secured a bigger average viewership – more than 1.73 million – than any of TV’s late-night offerings except CBS’ ‘Late Show’ and NBC’s ‘Tonight Show.’” A Washington Examiner analysis of Nielson data for the year compared Gutfeld’s average audience on Fox News to his competitors’, and the results were illuminating:

Gutfeld’s show, which airs on Saturdays at 10 p.m. EST, has an average of 1.7 million viewers. Meaning his show averages more viewers than:

-HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” (1.5 million viewers)
-NBC’s “Late Night with Seth Meyers” (1.2 million viewers)
-CBS’ “Late Late Show with James Corden” (1.2 million viewers)
-HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (1 million viewers)
-TBS’ “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” (835,000 viewers)
-Comedy Central’s “Daily Show” (732,000 viewers)

The difference between Gutfeld’s show and the programs eating his dust is a steady drumbeat of media coverage inflating their cultural influence. Outlets regularly pluck clips from every late-night show trailing Gutfeld’s while virtually ignoring him, despite the gaps in viewership.

It’s a smaller-scale version of the Mad Men effect, as spotted by veteran media critic Richard Rushfield in 2011: “Mad Men at its height was watched by 2.9 million viewers. In contrast, CBS’ military police procedural drama NCIS last week was seen by 19.7 million viewers. As far as I can tell, NCIS has never been featured on the cover of any major American magazine apart from TV Guide and one issue of Inland Empire, the magazine of California’s suburban Riverside and San Bernadino counties…It would be one thing if the papers (and the New York Times certainly is not alone in this) were to say, here’s our picks for the new season or what we think is the most interesting show on TV, or perhaps more to the point, here’s what we believe that the rarified niche of upscale, urban readers that we target will be interested in reading about. But they don’t; they still operate under the frayed pretence that they are covering the ‘news’ of culture, giving their readers a report on what the most important developments of the day in the entertainment world. By that standard, the ‘flood the zone’ coverage of Mad Men is completely unjustified in comparison to the information blackout on NCIS.”

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