Accuracy in Media

Democrats are going to roll in the midterm elections, and the way you can tell is that Rachel Maddow’s show has higher ratings as Fox News and CNN lose viewers, according to a story Wednesday in Politico.

“While Fox News held its standing as cable TV’s No. 1 network both for total day and prime time, MSNBC finished second in both categories, enthusing Democrats who see the rise of the network – powered by the liberal commentary of star host Rachel Maddow – not just as a reflection of energy within their base, but as a tool to help candidates in the coming elections.”

It’s already begun, according to the story. Politico quotes Pete Giangreco, a Democratic strategist, as saying, “You saw all that money that Doug Jones was able to raise online. A lot of that comes from people watching MSNBC and saying, ‘Oh, this is an important race to me.’ Same thing with Conor Lamb,” who won the special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district last month by about 500 votes.

The story acknowledged that Fox News’ audience remains about 40 percent larger than MSNBC’s and almost double that of CNN – with 1.4 million total average viewers, compared to 1 million for MSNBC and 713,00 for CNN.

But “analysts say that some of [Fox News’] audience may be suffering from Trump fatigue.”

The story fails to address the level of support for Fox News in the first quarter of 2017. Fox News recorded the best quarter in cable television history that year, better even than the final quarter of 2016, when all the networks enjoyed a ratings bonanza thanks to the presidential election.

Nor does it address the impact of losing Bill O’Reilly to a sexual harassment scandal.

O’Reilly had chalked up the biggest quarter for a single show in the history of cable news TV in early 2017 – averaging 4 million viewers per night – with Tucker Carlson, at 3.3 million, The Five, with 3.03 million, Bret Baier with 2.95 million and Sean Hannity with 2.87 million viewers per night.

By comparison, Maddow had 2.6 million viewers.

Fox News has had higher ratings for 65 consecutive quarters, which the story also fails to mention. But Politico blamed the loss on Trump.

“The departure of big names like Bill O’Reilly, who left in April 2017, may have played a role as well,” Politico wrote. “But the network’s opinion hosts have tied it so tightly to President Trump that its diminished ratings may simply reflect that he is less popular no than when he took office.”

But Trump’s ratings have moved upward in recent weeks, reaching 51 percent at one point and holding at 48 percent today, and Republicans have narrowed a 15-point lead earlier this year to five points.

Politico then turned to Stuart Stevens, architect of Mitt Romney’s losing 2012 presidential campaign and an anti-Trumper, to make sense of it all.

“I think there are a lot of people out there who are dramatically troubled by the direction of the country, and they would like to be reminded that a.) they’re not alone, and b.) there is an alternative. I basically consider MSNBC the ‘it doesn’t have to be this way’ channel.”

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