AP Touts ‘Ominous Sign’ Of Ratings Dip For ‘Troubled’ Fox News, Even As It Wins The Week In All Cable TV

Posted on Thu 05/18/2017 by


By Tim Graham ~

For much of the last year, the liberal “legacy media” has been looking for “ominous” signs of Fox News falling from its dominant position in the cable-news landscape. Now AP media reporter David Bauder has written a story with that message (as highlighted on the Drudge Report): “With President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey the week’s big story, MSNBC had one of its best ratings weeks in memory — perhaps an ominous sign for troubled Fox News Channel.

MSNBC topped Fox in the 25-to-54 demographic for the first time since the last week of 2008, during Obama’s transition to power. It’s odd that a few paragraphs later, Bauder was admitting Fox was still in first place…but narrowly!

Fox won the week when everyone is counted, with 2.6 million viewers on the weekdays. But MSNBC has crept much closer, finishing with 2.39 million viewers with the help of a prime-time lineup led by Rachel Maddow. CNN had 1.32 million viewers last week, Nielsen said.

There’s no “ominous sign” for CNN when it has half the viewers that Fox is still scoring. At first glance, these numbers might seem like a Fox meltdown, at least compared to its usual dominance. But the current political circumstances are building hope for Trump’s ruination. The most leftist network is hot because the far-left is on fire. By contrast, Trump voters are demoralized as scandal overtakes everything on the conservative agenda and so they are tuning out of the news programming.

Bauder’s look at the numbers underlines the trend: “Between 2008 and 2016, Fox News beat MSNBC by an average of 1.42 million viewers each week — and last week the margin sunk to just over 200,000.” That was the Obama era. On the other hand, Fox News was dominant in the George W. Bush era as well, so who’s in the White House shouldn’t be too important.

You might consider that the current liberal-media trash talk of Trump’s impending impeachment and/or mortal political damage, the current news environment might seem like a Democratic convention week, with viewers tuning out because the tone of the news is depressing:

With the exception of two weeks won by MSNBC during the Democratic conventions in 2016 and 2012 — when Fox’s predominantly conservative audience found reasons to be away from the TV — the closest MSNBC had been to Fox in total viewers was losing by a margin of 178,000 viewers in April 2001, Nielsen said. CNN has beaten Fox in total viewers six times over the past two years.

It’s quite possible that the Trump die-hards are the ones still tuning in, while the reluctant Trump voters are sticking with sports or old movies. It’s also true, as Bauder noted, that the ratings are affected by CNN and The New York Times successfully campaigning to get Bill O’Reilly fired. The liberal media want that effect to be permanent and not temporary.

TV Newser reported that Fox lost to both CNN and MSNBC in the 25-to-54 demo on Monday night, as CNN had its town hall with Nancy Pelosi…perhaps the liberals wanted to see if she would give a green light to an impeachment crusade.

But the media shouldn’t get overexcited about Fox, since it’s not only the top cable-news network, it’s the top network in all of cable television as of last week. TV Newser noted:

Meanwhile, for the full 7-day week, Fox News Channel was the most-watched basic cable channel in both total day and prime time. This is the 19th straight week FNC has been the most-watched cable network in total day. All three cable channels finished in the Top 5, in total day viewers with Fox News No. 1, MSNBC No. 3 and CNN No. 4.

Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters. He is Director of Media Analysis at the Media Research Center.

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