CNN Co-founder: High Fox News Ratings Caused by Anger

You just know it has to be killing the folks at CNN and MSNBC that Fox News has completely overwhelmed them in the ratings. In fact, the combined number of viewers of both of those networks still doesn't match that of Fox News. Could it be that the public is sick of the fawning coverage given to the Obama administration by most of the mainstream media and look to Fox News for providing more balanced stories? That is something that the MSM people just can't confess. So what is their excuse for the ratings dominance by Fox News? CNN co-founder, Reese Schonfeld, provides a laughably lame excuse in the Huffington Post. First he presents an accurate but painful picture (from his POV) of the cable news ratings:

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.

Stand by now for the money quote:

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.

And yet more painful ratings facts reported by Schonfeld:

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.

Having faced the facts on the dismal ratings of CNN, Schonfeld proceeds to avoid the real reason why his network is failing:

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.

Try guessing that viewers are bored by the constant Obama adulation that they see on CNN and MSNBC and want a more accurate presentation of the news, Reese.  It seems that Schonfeld had hoped that younger viewers would boost the CNN ratings but they apparently disappointed him:

I had thought better of the television audience, particularly younger viewers who tended to watch CNN and MSNBC. But even that's gone now--Fox leads in 18-49 year-olds.

Oops! Back to square one as Schonfeld continues with the lame excuses:

Here are the best excuses I can think of: maybe a lot of middle-of-the-roaders have just tuned out on all the cable news noise. Maybe other people have better things to do with their lives than listen to pandering pundits. Maybe more generous souls accept that Obama's doing the best he can in a very tough job, and they don't want to hear the details because they know the stars are not shining on America right now.

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. But who am I to interrupt Reese Schonfeld when he is on a comedy roll?

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.

Or maybe your silly anger theory excuse for CNN's (and MSNBC's) ratings failure is full of baloney.  Matching Schonfeld's excuses in the entertainment department are the ones provided by the posted comments below his story:

The author forgets about the magnetism of a spectacle in assuming that everyone who watches FOX agrees with it. Plenty of people simply watch FOX News in order to see someone do something ridiculous. I'd attribute its gain in 18-49 year olds partially to that and partially in the general flight of the audience to the internet.

Conservatives are unemployed, sitting home on the couch, watching TV, downing a brew, wishing W. was there to share a few rounds with them.

Some folks tune in to see what those who promote violence and hatred are saying because it is wise to know your enemies. Some folks tune in to laugh at the ridiculousness that is Faux News. The stance of Faux News, for the most part, is 1950's America (O'Reilly, Ingraham, Hannity, Beck, Coulter). Dinosaurs who refuse to step into the 21st Century. It truly is like watching a species become extinct right before your eyes.

Back to Fox's ratings. I do think the channel reflects people's opinions, but I also think it (and conservative talk radio) helps to create those opinions as well. Kind of like Starbucks creating a larger demand for high-end coffee every time it entered a new market.

Ah! The Starbucks theory for Fox News ratings success. May have your permission to print that one out, laminate it, and carry it around in my wallet?

P.J. Gladnick
P.J. Gladnick
P.J. Gladnick is a freelance writer and creator of the DUmmie FUnnies blog.