Monday, October 26, 2009

Fox News' Ratings Way Up Since White House Declared War on It

Oh, the irony. Or maybe not. I could have predicted that the flap would be a ratings booster for Fox News. People who never watched the channel would be wondering what all the fuss was about, and those who occasionally watched Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity are probably more regular. Anecdotally, I'd never watched Glenn Beck's show until Color of Change declared war on him.

From Hot Air:

It’s a nine-percent bump in the two weeks since Anita Dunn’s whine heard ’round the world — in terms of overall audience. Among the coveted 25-54 demographic? A 14-percent bump. Good work, Barry. People keep telling me that this PR offensive by the White House benefits both sides but I don’t see how that’s true. If the goal is to contain Fox by framing the stories it breaks — Van Jones, ACORN, etc — as somehow illegitimate, then every tenth of a point that Fox’s ratings go up undermines that goal. There will come a point where other news nets will follow Fox’s lead simply for business reasons, ideology or no ideology; follow the link, eyeball the list of top 20 news shows, and ask yourself how far we are from that point, really. To put it in perspective: “Red Eye,” at 3 a.m., is beating Campbell Brown at 8 p.m. on CNN in the demo. (Worse, perhaps: Anderson Cooper is getting beat by... re-runs of Nancy Grace.)

It's clear that people prefer the opinion shows on Fox News as well as MSNBC (whose ratings are nowhere close to Fox News') to the staid, straight news programs on CNN and HLN. And why not? The straight news shows are on all day long on all four cable networks, and there's also the nightly news programs on the broadcast networks. IOW, there are plenty of places to watch the straight news. But Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity or Keith Olbermann bring an entertainment value that is obviously attracting eyeballs on a nightly basis. That must be worrisome to the White House, if they didn't want people watching or listening to Fox News.