Hhmmm. . . I guess it's only Fair to restore Balance to the MSM's cable ratings as well, eh.
Yesterday, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. scrapped its plans "to publish a book and air a two-part TV interview" on Fox in which O.J. Simpson was to describe how he "would have killed his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Lyle Goldman." The stunt was "widely viewed as a device to bolster Fox's flagging ratings." But Fox was forced to abandon the project -- which was heavily promoted and hyped on Fox News Channel -- after at least a dozen Fox affiliates announced they were refusing to air the program and advertisers bailed. (Murdoch tried to claim the decision was made on principle, calling it "an ill-considered project.") The debacle is just the latest misstep by News Corp. and Fox News, which is beset by sagging ratings, evaporating credibility and more robust competition.
O'REILLY HAS NEVER HEARD OF NEWS CORP.: Fox News' primetime leader Bill O'Reilly is desperate to deny ties between Fox News and Fox Broadcasting, which was planning to air to O.J. Simpson interview. O'Reilly, who called the book and interview "a low point in American culture," claimed that “Fox Broadcasting has nothing to do with the Fox News Channel,” and that claims to the contrary were by people “doing the bidding of far left fanatics who will do anything to disparage me and [Fox News].” In fact, the two entities have the same chairman (Roger Ailes), the same owner (Rupert Murdoch), and Fox Broadcasting regularly airs Fox News content. Fox News covered the O.J. interview incessantly, mentioning it as much as CNN, MSNBC, and Headline News combined.
FOX NEWS' ELECTION NIGHT DEFEAT: On Election Night, Fox News -- for years a ratings juggernaut -- had fewer views than CNN in the key demographic of adults 25 to 54. CNN also edged out Fox in total viewers on election night between 7PM and 2AM "drawing 2.54 million viewers to Fox's 2.39 million and MSNBC's 1.58 million." (Fox News edged out CNN in total viewers during prime time.) It's a dramatic fall from grace by Fox News. In 2004, for example, "Fox beat CNN by nearly 2 million viewers."
FOX NEWS' RATING SAGGING OVERALL: Fox News' election night woes were part of a much broader ratings slump. For the last 12 months, Fox's "prime-time audience has been smaller than the year before." For the first 8 months of this year, viewership "was down 5 percent compared to 2005, with a steeper 13 percent decline in prime time." In October, ratings were "down 17 percent."
FOX NEWS' VANISHING CREDIBILITY: Fox News has developed a reputation as a channel for incendiary political commentary, not news. A Fox News editorial memo by network vice president John Moody recently leaked to the Huffington Post reinforces that view. The day after the election, the memo instructed Fox News staff to "be on the lookout for any statements from Iraqi insurgents, who must be thrilled at the prospect of a Dem-controlled congress." Two other memos surfaced in recent days target incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). AP reports, "Some of the bigger stories of the past year, such as Hurricane Katrina and the wars in the Middle East, played better to the newsgathering strengths of CNN."
THE OLBERMANN FACTOR: As Fox News sinks, MSNBC is on the rise. Its ratings for October, for example, were up 14 percent over last year. One of the keys to MSNBC's recent success: progressive political commentary, spearheaded by Keith Olbermann. Compared to October 2005, Olbermann's ratings are up 67 percent. Since election day, Olbermann has been nipping at Bill O'Reilly's heals in the coveted 25-54-year-old demographic -- Olbermann is drawing 321,000 people in that group to O'Reilly's 405,000. Overall, Olbermann's ratings are up another 32 percent since the November 7th election, while O'Reilly is down 5 percent.
Happy "Thanksgiving Week" Hump Day*!
* My condolensces to mi compadres in the U.S. who've gotta work the whole week anyhow. Hope y'all get some turkey or grog or whatever it is that makes you sincerely grateful!