CNN Media Analyst Hits Ratings Win by Liberal, 'Cellar-Dwelling' MSNBC

August 30th, 2017 5:06 PM

For several years, CNN and fellow liberal channel MSNBC have battled to see which of these “news” networks will rise above the basement in ratings. While this long-running tug-of-war has gone on, the Fox News Channel has maintained its dominance in ratings.

The latest volley in this ratings war was sent by Brian Lowry, a media reporter for CNN who asserted that MSNBC is a “left-leaning” network that has been “long accustomed to cellar-dwelling status.”

Lowry stated:

President Trump often mentions his power as a ratings draw, but there’s one beneficiary he tends to overlook: MSNBC. The network’s press release about August [numbers] notes that Rachel Maddow’s show was the top-rated program on cable news for the month, both on a total-viewer (2.8 million) and 25-54 demo basis.

And in the a.m., Morning Joe (1.1 million) equaled its all-time audience high.

“While Trump has at times overstated his influence on ratings, the left-leaning network -- long accustomed to cellar-dwelling status -- has clearly achieved gains thanks to apprehensions about his presidency,” the CNN reporter added.

According to an article by's A. J. Katz, “a fact-check of Lowry’s 'cellar-dwelling' diss will find that MSNBC has been out of the ratings cellar for quite some time, being replaced by CNN in a number of time slots, including in the 25-54 demographic.”

July “was an extraordinary month for MSNBC, the self-proclaimed 'Place for Politics,'” Katz stated. The network “finished No. 1 across cable news in weekday prime time among viewers” and that was “the second time the network has topped both Fox News and CNN in the 25-54 age demographic (after May 2017) and the third straight monthly victory” in the 18-49 demo.

“Additionally,” Lowry noted, “the CNN reporter’s 'left leaning' accusation toward MSNBC will be viewed by many as the pot calling the kettle black since both networks have long been viewed as left-of-center (even though both today would likely challenge the characterization).”

However, a “key difference between MSNBC and CNN? MSNBC hosts seem more transparent about their political views with a more overtly liberal prime time,” Lowry stated as if that was a positive quality.

“MSNBC has experienced quite a successful year under the Trump presidency as their 2017 ratings continue to boom,” Lowry continued. “In the month of August, they only trailed Fox News in the ratings game for cable -- in both prime time slots and in total day viewers.”

“Additionally, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow hosts the most watched show in cable news, as she finished August in the top spot -- making her reign two consecutive months,” he noted.

However, the news wasn't all good for MSNBC. Regarding the following month, Katz reported that Fox News and MSNBC were the top two most-watched cable networks in August.

“Americans continue to be enthralled by cable news, and it continues to show in the ratings department,” he noted. “Each of the big three cable news networks finished in the top five across basic cable across total day viewership.”

During that time, “Fox News topped all of basic cable in total day viewers, per Nielsen data,” Katz continued. “This is the 14th straight month Fox News has accomplished this feat.”

“Additionally, FNC was the most-watched basic cable network in prime time, notching a monthly total viewer victory in prime time six of the past eight months,” he stated.

“Fox News also posted audience growth in August 2017,” Katz stated. “The network was up six percent in prime time viewers and seven percent in total day viewers from last year.”

“With adults 25-54, Fox News posted a 25 percent growth in prime time and a 28 percent growth in total day,” he reported.

Meanwhile, “MSNBC continues to thrive ratings-wise in 2017,” Katz stated. “The network finished August 2017 as the No. 2 basic cable channel both in prime time and in total day viewers.”

“The network posted a 63 percent prime time viewer growth, 55 percent growth in the prime time demo, 54 percent growth in total day viewers and 40 percent growth in the total day demo versus August 2016,” he noted.

Even CNN “had a solid month in its own right, finishing in the top 10 in total viewers, both in prime time and in total day,” Katz added.

Of course, both CNN and MSNBC will trumpet any positive ratings as loudly as they can, but as it has been for at least the past 15 years, Fox News remains the top cable television news channel.