Liberal Viewers Prove Elusive For Left-Leaning MSNBC

MSNBC has a problem that might not be fixable: It’s too liberal.

That’s not a criticism of its left-leaning politics, although there is certainly plenty to debate there -- a debate I will leave to others who are more adept at navigating the minefield of left vs. right politics.

However, as a TV columnist and long-time writer on the subject of both television and radio, I have made this observation: Right-leaning people tend to flock to right-leaning television and radio personalities in much greater numbers than liberals flock to their own like-minded hosts. And that means MSNBC might be facing an obstacle that is possibly insurmountable.

I make no claim to owning this particular observation. It is one that has been made by many others, and it is the linchpin -- the “secret sauce,” if you will -- for the success of a slew of right-leaning media entities, the best examples being Fox News Channel and Rush Limbaugh (though there are many others).



Why bring this up? Because of the many stories appearing recently detailing MSNBC’s collapse in the ratings against its competitors Fox News and CNN. The stories came out earlier this month and mainly covered the performances of all three news channels in the just-concluded third quarter of the year (July through September).

It really is pathetic when you see the numbers. According to this story in The New York Times, signature MSNBC shows such as “Morning Joe” and “Rachel Maddow” sank to their lowest viewership in years. “Morning Joe” averaged just 87,000 viewers in the news demo -- adults 25-54 -- and “Maddow” averaged just 183,000 in the demo at 9 p.m., her lowest demo average ever. And she is considered to be MSNBC’s biggest star.

By contrast, Megyn Kelly on Fox News Channel averaged 401,000 in the demo against Maddow at 9 o’clock. At 8, Bill O’Reilly averaged 447,000 -- the best in cable. Meanwhile, on MSNBC at 8 p.m.: “All in with Chris Hayes” was averaging 129,000 viewers in the demo during the quarter.

The daytime was even worse for MSNBC, even when you take into account the fact that daytime viewership is inevitably much lower than in the evening. The daytime show on MSNBC drawing the lion’s share of attention for its dismal showing in the third-quarter ratings is “Ronan Farrow Daily” at 1 p.m. This talk show starring a blue-eyed son of Mia Farrow, who looks suspiciously like Frank Sinatra averaged only 45,000 viewers in the demo.

Of course, no one but the geniuses at MSNBC ever thought this guy would make it as a TV personality, at least not at this point in a career that included no TV experience whatsoever on his resume. 

One can always make the argument that MSNBC’s problems have less to do with the difficulties of getting liberals excited about liberal TV shows than with MSNBC’s ongoing failure to locate and develop talent that will attract viewership.

And when it comes to pure talent, MSNBC has no one like O’Reilly, who happens to be great at what he does. For that matter, so is Megyn Kelly, Sean Hannity and Greta Van Susteren. Meanwhile, MSNBC hires people like Chris Hayes. Never heard of him? You’re not alone. 

But even if MSNBC found some sort of liberal equivalent to Bill O’Reilly, there’s no guarantee that such a personality would bring MSNBC an audience of liberals on par with the conservative audience that is so fervently loyal to Fox News Channel.

Just look at talk radio -- liberals are far and few between in the talk-radio world. Some years back, there was even a liberal radio network -- Air America -- that eventually went out of business, despite (or perhaps because of) having Al Franken as its star personality. 

No, there is just something about conservatives and the way they latch onto talk shows that reflect their point of view that has simply never been matched in the world of liberal media. And so, the quest for a liberal Rush Limbaugh continues.

61 comments about "Liberal Viewers Prove Elusive For Left-Leaning MSNBC ".
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  1. Jonathan Hutter from Northern Light Health, October 24, 2014 at 2:09 p.m.

    Hard to find spouting, liberal blowhards who are also entertaining. And when you do, no one wants to listen to them. The ones who get the biggest audiences are already signed to Comedy Central.

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 24, 2014 at 3:09 p.m.

    It's also important to recognize that the political winds are blowing right, not left, this year and that many liberals are not too happy with the performance of their party's stalwarts, starting with the top. Also, TV news, in terms of tonnage---or frequency of viewing-----skews sharply to the 60+ segment while younger people, who tend to be far more liberal than oldsters, are not only light TV viewers but are especially light cable news viewers. Fortunately for MSNBC and, for that matter, CNN, any shortfall in ad revenue caused by low ratings is more than made up for by the fees that cable systems pay to carry these news channels. Hence, MSNBC and CNN still make handsome profits, despite Fox's dominance in the Nielsens.

  3. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, October 24, 2014 at 3:31 p.m.

    Dear Adam,
    I have enjoyed your first-rate reporting for years and learned alot from your insight. Allow me to share some with you. On this topic, you are in dangerous, or at least murky waters. As I read the Pew data and the Nielsen ratings, the Fox News Networks attract a remarkable number AND balance of Liberal, Conservative and Independent Voters who watch 24/7 News Channels. There is a simple reason. Fox News educates, engages and edifies substantial segments of the American Public. And it's great TV! This produces three effects that are beneficial to Citizens and Sponsors: Audience Reach, Viewer Resonance and Consumer Response. The context for Fox News' success is easy to see and to understand. The nation is in desperate need of real and relevant television news it can count on. CNN has turned itself into a comedy channel without humor. I wonder which news anchor will host the CNN marijuana series 'High Profits?" (Hope the children are asleep when Turner airs this public service. For shame!) Anthony Bourdain, Lisa Ling and Mike Rowe are all tied up with their "mind-blowing" projects. That's a drag. And speaking of taking a drag, MSNBC has all the gravitas of a laugh riot. Deborah Turness & NBC News do NOT know the difference between Hypocrisy and Hippocrates. Dr. Nancy Synderman should read the entire Hippocratic Oath & depart honorably from NBC's journalistic ranks soon -- and make appropriate amends off camera. ["I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure." Source: The Hippocratic Oath] Before that, NBCUniversal should show Deborah Turness the door, once she has been in management quarantine for 21 days for infecting all manner of journalistic judgments with chronic poor choice. In short, the problems with MSNBC is, in large part, NBC News.
    Between "NBC Slightly News"(sic) with Brian Willians and "Meet the Press with Jon Stewart" (Oops. That's "MTP with Second-Choice Chuck Todd.") MSNBC's real journalists like Rachel Maddow don't stand a chance. NBC SNews (sic) is not a Halo, but a Horns Brand. And the Devil has taken the hindmost! Best Regards, Nick

  4. Chuck Lantz from, network, October 24, 2014 at 3:40 p.m.

    Ignore everything you've read so far and read this: Liberals do not limit themselves to a small group of news and commentary sources. That's a large part of being "liberal." And regarding MSNBC specifically, they lost many viewers as a direct result of their endless, and very ill-advised, program and commentator re-shuffling. The usual instant ratings watching strategy does not work with liberal media. What works is long-term consistency, which will slowly but surely bring better viewing numbers. In short, the instant gratification that MSNBC is looking for is a conservative trait, which - obviously - does not work with programming aimed at liberals. Need proof? Check the numbers and trends before and after Olbermann was fired.

  5. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, October 24, 2014 at 3:43 p.m.

    You're really on to something, Chuck.
    Thanks for the evidence and reinforcement.

  6. Tom Scharre from The Hunch Fund, October 24, 2014 at 4:22 p.m.

    How about this for a theory? Maybe, just maybe, the politically correct crowd is simply not as large as the media/Hollywood industry would have you believe. And, once in the safety of their homes, no longer afraid of voicing their opinions in polite company, people watch what they want to watch -- not what some self-appointed busybody tells them they ought to watch.

  7. Chuck Lantz from, network, October 24, 2014 at 5:02 p.m.

    Tom: the term "politically correct crowd" could apply to either Liberals or the Far Right. Which group do you mean? If we take the percentages from a large number of opinion polls and votes on a wide variety of social issues, the number of actual hard-core right-wingers averages out to around 30 - 33% of the US population over 18. I've casually studied this for a few decades, and those numbers have been very consistent. Even the goofiest, anti-social (as well as some unconstitutional) issues, have still pulled-in around 30% support.

  8. Anne Peterson from Idaho Public Televsion, October 24, 2014 at 7:16 p.m.

    I don't know if this is a liberal or conservative trait, but since I don't sit down every day at the same time to listen (radio) or watch (TV), I need the programs I like to sit still. Then, if I don't see/hear them for two or three weeks, I don't have to go hunting for them. If I have to hunt, I'm out of there, and I'm not changing my schedule for the media.

  9. Tom Scharre from The Hunch Fund, October 24, 2014 at 7:42 p.m.

    Chuck ~ Since the title of this article is 'Liberal Viewers Prove Elusive For Left-Leaning MSNBC', I will give you two guesses and the first one does not count.

    But your first sentence betrays your bias - dividing the viewership into Liberals and 'the Far Right'. Followed a bit later by 'hard-core right-wingers' who seem to embrace the 'goofiest, anti-social' issues.

    Why not hard left vs. hard right? Why not hard-core left wingers?

    Face it. Despite your 'decades' of 'casual studies' not everyone agrees with you. Somewhere in between that 30% you so flippantly marginalize & the 45,000 viewers Mr. Farrow is pulling down, I suggest you'll find the bulk of America.

  10. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, October 24, 2014 at 7:45 p.m.

    The "PBS NewsHour" is wonderful. TV that is truly in the Public Interest! Three cheers for Gwen, Judy and their dedicated colleagues. Journalists all! And a US Citizen's week should not end without the wise and engaging reflections of Shields & Brooks. Thank you Idaho Public Television and PBS Stations throughout the Nation.

  11. Chuck Lantz from, network, October 24, 2014 at 7:45 p.m.

    Anne: I think you hit the nail on the head. It seems that most of those who make the programming decisions assume that when even a minor change is made, the core audience will just follow along. As you point out, that's simply not the case anymore, when we have so much more to choose from, with less time to set aside to watch or listen. Like you, if my favorite program is moved even 30 minutes, or if commentator's time-slots are switched, they've usually lost me as a viewer or listener.

  12. Chuck Lantz from, network, October 24, 2014 at 8:24 p.m.

    Tom Scharre: I gladly admit that I'm very liberal, but I want to correct your assumption that my very specific labels "far-right" and "hard-core right-wingers" were meant to be mean-spirited towards conservatives. Just the opposite is true, since I wanted to make it very clear that I see a vast difference between the conservatives who make up the majority of the right-wing, and the hard-core "fright-wing" reactionaries. By the same token, I have an equal amount of disdain for a lot of those who identify as far-left. I was simply trying not to lump all conservatives together when jumping on the the Limbaugh lovers. Sorry for the confusion. I think we're more or less on the same page, though I'm sure we differ on the minor details.

  13. Robert Martin from Add any news topic, October 24, 2014 at 8:37 p.m.

    Liberals, as it turns out, are more tolerant of a wide range of viewpoints, and therefore don't bury their heads in an "echo chamber" that allows them to observe a sponsored reality that defies the established tenets of science, philosophy and general reality. A liberal does not need to hear it from Rachel Maddow in order to know that Sean Hannity lives in a world spun from half-truths and outright lies.

  14. Tom Scharre from The Hunch Fund, October 24, 2014 at 8:52 p.m.

    Okay. Thank you for that.

  15. Tom Scharre from The Hunch Fund, October 24, 2014 at 9:06 p.m.

    Not going to defend Sean Hannity, who I consider to be an insufferable blowhard.

    But the liberals-are-more-tolerant trope always brings to mind to this William F. Buckley Jr. quote:

    "Liberals claim to be tolerant of all other points of view, but then are shocked & offended to learn there *are* other points of view."

  16. Robert Martin from Add any news topic, October 24, 2014 at 9:40 p.m.

    I understand your point and recognize that it has some, perhaps even much, truth is in it.

    Yet it is the right, not the left, that inspired the term "Right-Wing Echo Chamber" with enough truth in it to make it stick. Since the topic here is the right's loyalty to certain forms of media, the "echo chamber" matter does seem logically related.

  17. Tom Scharre from The Hunch Fund, October 24, 2014 at 10:38 p.m.

    Actually, I thought the topic was the inability of MSNBC to attract an audience, not the "right's loyalty to certain forms of media." But this discussion with both you, Mr. Martin, and Mr. Lantz, has been so civil I'll just wish both of you a good evening. I am not even sure I am right; I am merely suggesting the ratings may reflect Occam's Razor - meaning the simplest explanation may be the correct one.

  18. Robert Martin from Add any news topic, October 24, 2014 at 10:48 p.m.

    the "inability of msnbc to attract an audience" is merely a way to outline the obverse of the same coin.

  19. Tom Scharre from The Hunch Fund, October 24, 2014 at 11:14 p.m.

    See, this why these things never end well. And I fault myself for being drawn into it. Despite your assertion - and it is a mere assertion - that the 'inability of MSNBC to attract an audience' is merely a way to outline the obverse of the same coin, neither the article we are commenting upon nor any facts you have offered support that. This article was about ratings -- numbers of viewers. You are suggesting that the lack of viewers is not the function of disinterest of the viewing public, but some sort of ownership of certain parts of the media by the "right's loyalty." Where is the left's loyalty; who is stopping them? It is specious to suggest the lack of an audience is not because your compatriots do not represent a number equal or larger to the opposition, but because their numbers simply cannot be measured. But, trust us, they're out there in legions. That's a pretty sweet deal - more people agree with me than agree with you but I can't prove it. Anyway, peace. Forget it, Jake, it's just Mediapost.

  20. Robert Martin from Add any news topic, October 24, 2014 at 11:53 p.m.

    The idea that loyalty to media has no bearing on the ability to build and hold an audience seems odd to me. But, it is just mediapost.

  21. Paul Van winkle from FUNCTION, October 25, 2014 at 10 a.m.

    There is no liberal or conservative media. There's only corporate media -- and independent media. Independent media can be liberal, conservative, conspiracy-oriented, and can report factually accurate, uncomfortable truths (see Democracy Now! as an example). It's actively consumed on multiple platforms including TV, and seeks to shine a light on power. Independent media can say what it likes, explore unpopular ideas, and challenge conventional wisdom because it is not accountable to corporate interests. Corporate media instead is mainstream -- it's passively consumed, it always serves power and privilege, and, in one way or another, it censors those who present a different narrative that threatens its owners or advertisers.

    In 2003, while almost every news program beat the drums of war, a single cable news show was openly opposed to invading Iraq: MSNBC’s 'The Phil Donahue Show', and it was cancelled on February 25th, 2003. At the time of its cancelation the Phil Donahue's show was the highest rated program on MSNBC. What possible reason could the "liberal media" have for cancelling its own highest rated show, that also condemned the war? Corporate interests didn’t want that point of view reaching the public in the way the show was doing. General Electric went on to make absurd profits invading and occupying Iraq, and slaughtering civilians.

    Six (6) companies are responsible for 90% of all media, virtually all of the news and information we receive. Comcast, News-Corp, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner and CBS effectively control about 90% of all media in the United States. While these six companies are slightly different, they all have one goal: to attract advertisers from other business. To do that, they make sure their information and programing portray a world conducive to their goals - and the goals of their fellow corporate megalith advertisers. So which way would that programming and information slant? Whichever way it needs to to serve the goals of the owners.

  22. Paul Van winkle from FUNCTION, October 25, 2014 at 12:03 p.m.

    The Columbia Journalism Review did a recent report on the loyalties to these stations, though. It revealed that Liberals fall in love and Conservatives fall in line. It found that consistent liberals have no groupwide preference for a single news organization, as CNN, NPR, MSNBC, and The New York Times were each listed by between 10 and 15% of respondents as their main political news source. That contrasts starkly with consistent conservatives, 47% of whom follow Fox News as their primary outlet. Though this far-right group shows distrust of 24 of the 36 news organizations included in the poll, 88% of consistent conservatives trust Fox News. (*Despite Fox News winning the "legal right to lie" in the 1990's court decision.)

  23. Chuck Lantz from, network, October 25, 2014 at 12:40 p.m.

    Rhyming is not a talent I possess, but please allow me this very slight attempt; ... Paul said it all.

  24. Tom Scharre from The Hunch Fund, October 25, 2014 at 1:30 p.m.

    Chuck, Paul, Robert ~ You might be surprised to learn I agree with all of you. Where I perhaps differ, is this ability to dismiss numbers selectively. I know I am in the minority. Not republican; not democrat; probably not even independent because I'm a little bit in love with an ideology that will never be workable in this world.

    I watch all three cable news networks. I subscribe to the NYTimes & Wall Street Journal. And, Paul, I agree with you that they serve their corporate masters.

    But however one wants to twist the statistics; whatever source one uses - be it the Columbia Journalism Review or Mediapost; wherever one lands on the political spectrum, an undeniable number emerges. Liberal broadcasting does not attract the same audience as conservative.

    I choose to think that is because more people feel that way in their hearts. Echo chamber, right wing loyalties, studies notwithstanding, the simple truth is people watch what they like.

    And, of course, I could be wrong.

  25. Paul Van winkle from FUNCTION, October 25, 2014 at 1:57 p.m.

    Again, as noted above: people who label themselves "consistent liberals" have no groupwide preference for a single news organization. This being the very definition of "liberal". Which looks for diversity, in opinion, etc. Whereas those who label themselves "conservatives" today tend to orient towards more singular, narrowcast views. This is just how different people are wired. In reference to attaining loyalties, I think we -- and the corporate media owners -- know perfectly well what works for meeting the goals and objectives of the business tasks at hand.

  26. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 25, 2014 at 2:11 p.m.

    I assume that you guys are familiar with the ongoing Pew studies of adult preferences among the news media. The most recent study---in 2012 but, I think it is still valid-----found that 60% of the regular viewers of the Fox News Channel considered themselves to be conservatives while only 10% defined themselves as liberals. In contrast, regular viewers of MSNBC and CNN split almost down the middle regarding political orientation, with roughly a third, in both cases defined as liberals and an equal percentage as conservatives. However this did not translate to some of the individual personalities on Fox or MSNBC. For, example, 69% of the adults who were regular viewers of O'Reilly were conservatives while a mere 8% were liberals. As for MSNBC's Rachael Maddow, the tables were totally reversed. Where 57% of Maddow's regulars were liberals, only 7% were conservatives. In this study, only 24% of the adults interviewed rated themselves as conservatives while 32% labelled themselves as liberals.

  27. Chuck Lantz from, network, October 25, 2014 at 2:11 p.m.

    Tom: As you mention, stats can be twisted by those who wish them to reflect a favored outcome. In fact, if we use the opinions of two of the favorite far-right twisters, Coulter and Palin, who claim that ALL media, except Fox, is "librul", then the debate becomes moot.

  28. Tom Scharre from The Hunch Fund, October 25, 2014 at 2:38 p.m.

    43% of my right arm finds Ann Coulter sort of sexy in an affected way. 27% does not. The remaining 30% is otherwise occupied, thinking about where that bruise came from. In contrast, my torso is split down the middle - 50% thinks it looks buff for a geezer, 50% says get a grip. 13% of my regularly engaged brain says this is a beautiful autumn day, while the intermittent other 87% says we will all be dead within decades. If I am able to score additional funding, I hope to fine tune these percentages.

  29. Chuck Lantz from, network, October 25, 2014 at 3:24 p.m.

    I ran your numbers, twice, and would strongly suggest that you up your "Autumn day" approval to 14%, and readjust all remaining percentages accordingly.

  30. Tom Scharre from The Hunch Fund, October 25, 2014 at 3:50 p.m.

    Done. And I feel better.

  31. Leon Thomas from Flashy Trends, October 25, 2014 at 10:37 p.m.

    It's really simple. I'm liberal on many issues and I watch conservative media because it is far more entertaining. When I'm serious about getting something closer to the truth or both sides of the story, i watch/listen to BBC, NPR or PBS. If i want entertainment, i listen to Fox, Rush, Sean, Glen, Michael Savage...... The hypocrisy is truly entertaining. These hosts generally spout individual freedoms but tell women what to do with their bodies, believe in the sanctity of life yet enforce the death penalty, want small government but do anything to maintain the national defense industrial complex, love capitalism and free markets yet lament the fact that Americans are making less than before (because of free markets) and generally think there is a political agenda in science,......I could go on guys and girls, but why would I? It's far more entertaining on the shows.

  32. Chuck Lantz from, network, October 26, 2014 at 12:02 a.m.

    Nicely stated.

  33. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, October 26, 2014 at 7:31 p.m.

    The Pew Studies that Ed Papazian wisely alludes to are even more recent than 2012. Here are links to last week (2014).

  34. Chuck Lantz from, network, October 26, 2014 at 7:40 p.m.

    This is just an observation, after watching this discussion unfold. I visit and often comment at a lot of sites, most of them having nothing to do with politics. At every site, with one exception, whenever "right vs left" comes up, things get ugly in a hurry. This discussion is that exception. - - - Group hug, everyone. Oh, wait, ... skip that, since it could easily be construed as a liberal suggestion. ... OK, instead, let's just nod approvingly in each other's direction. Done and done.

  35. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, October 26, 2014 at 8:25 p.m.

    I share your observation and am grateful for the collective wisdom and civility. We are a special group and I am grateful that Adam and MediaPost has brought us together for the greater good. Bless you all. I, for one, am deeply thankful for this wonderful experience. Peace, Nicholas P. Schiavone

  36. Myron Rosmarin from Rosmarin Search Marketing, Inc., October 27, 2014 at 6:27 p.m.

    I think there's more to the numbers that I haven't seen in this discussion. First, there's the fact that this is very much like a three candidate election. MSNBC may be spoiling it for CNN. Let's face it, the right won't watch either CNN and MSNBC, and the left won't watch Fox. So there's that. The other thing that I think is a factor is the anger/fear factor. As a Seth Godin blog today described, we watch the news when we're scared or angry. Does higher Fox ratings simply equate to a higher fear/anger factor on the right then on the left? Is Fox simply better at producing fear and anger and reaping the rewards of that skill set? Food for thought.

  37. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, October 27, 2014 at 7:02 p.m.

    Myron, I fear this interpretation is simplistic, incomplete and incorrect. Your leading hypotheses are framed as questions or are purely speculative in nature. That's good to a point. There is great wisdom in well-framed questions. Nonetheless, while I respect the work of Seth Godin -- and his credentials are impressive -- he does not hold a degree in psychiatry or psychology. The fear/anger explanation and the left/right differentiation is a reductio ad absurdum. Let's take FOX News, CNN and MSNBC out of the picture with respect to the state of the American psyche. IF FOX News has a "skill set," it is in producing better television (news) programming than its obvious competitors. Shrewdly, however, FOX News produces television that is competitive with all TV programming in every daypart. Chuck Lantz has clearly explained above that it is the lack of consistency and engagement, more than any other factors at MSNBC and CNN that have cost the competitors of FOX News most dearly. Further, Seth Godin can explain from a Stanford MBA perspective that FOX News is simply a better and stronger BRAND than the competitive alternatives. For those who view, agree or disagree with the FOX News POV, FOX News is a brand that can be trusted and has been trusted for almost two decades. Simply stated, FOX News has earned the trust that it rightly enjoys.

  38. Myron Rosmarin from Rosmarin Search Marketing, Inc., October 27, 2014 at 10:54 p.m.

    Nicholas, if Fox were a better product as you suggest, it would be capable of winning people over regardless of their political leanings. It does not do that. It clearly has no interest in doing that. It gives its right wing audience exactly what its audience wants. It feeds into the tribal nature of people ... "our side is great and the other side is a bunch of idiots." I'm not saying the other side doesn't attempt to do that also but emotions run much hotter on the right probably, in large part, because they're not running the show. I discount all of the other comments you make about the superiority of Fox News by virtue of the fact that you said "Fox News is a brand that can be trusted." No it can't. It so clearly has an agenda that has worked hard to undermine this country distorting facts even when it would serve the best interests of its own constituents. And it has done so by successfully misleading its audience into believing the entirety of the problem lies with the other side. I maintain that its success lives within its ability to tap into fear and anger. Good for Fox for winning the ratings battle but let's not pretend its a trustworthy news source.

  39. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, October 28, 2014 at 6:37 p.m.

    Myron, you have scratched the surface ... deeply.
    You remind me of Alexandre Dumas' cautionary note:
    "All generalizations are dangerous, even this one" (i.e., yours).
    You have both misquoted and misunderstood me.
    Your refusal to see beyond left or right causes you to fail in the need to differentiate among News, TV and Politics.
    As with ebola, it is dangerous to argue from feelings when what is needed are facts. And unfortunately, you seem to have none at your disposal right now. Check the Pew Research Center data before you condemn anything else. In fact, don't condemn anyone and just vote your conscience on Tuesday, November 4.

  40. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, October 28, 2014 at 7:11 p.m.

    This just in from TVNEWSER, 10.28.14:

    October 2014 Ratings: Fox News Marks 154 Months at #1
    By Chris Ariens

    Like the other cablenewsers, Fox News Channel saw a decline in viewership compared to Oct. 2013 when extensive coverage was given to the government shutdown.

    For the month, FNC was down -7% in both viewers and the A25-54 demo for total day viewing; and down -8% in viewers and the demo in primetime.

    Still, for the 8th consecutive month, Fox News had the top 14 cable news programs among total viewers.

    The ratings for October, 2014 (Nielsen Live + Same Day data):

    Primetime (Mon-Sun): 1,714,000 total viewers / 296,000 A25-54
    Total Day Mon-Sun): 1,056,000 total viewers / 220,000 A25-54
    “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren” and “Special Report with Bret Baier” each had their most-watched months in the demo this year. FNC was the fourth most-watched network on all of cable in total viewers. The channel has now been the most-watched cable news network for 154 consecutive months. In primetime, “The O’Reilly Factor,” “The Kelly File” and “Hannity” beat CNN and MSNBC combined in total viwers and A25-54 in each of their respected time slots.

  41. Tom Scharre from The Hunch Fund, October 28, 2014 at 7:39 p.m.

    Five days into this discussion and the number crunching continues. Each time, MSNBC & CNN come up short. But, of course, the reasons for that vary according to one's bias. And Myron, I think it's fair to say, appears to be the most biased of all. First, there's his contention that "Let's face it, the right won't watch either CNN and MSNBC, and the left won't watch Fox. So there's that." Actually, there isn't that. I mentioned in an earlier comment I watch all three. And I'm certain I'm not the only one. In a later comment, he states that "Good for Fox for winning the ratings battle but let's not pretend its (sic) a trustworthy news source." You're entitled to all your opinions, Myron, but I don't think you are the final arbiter of who is trustworthy & who is not. I continue to argue/believe/submit that for whatever reason, however you parse the ratings, sling the epithets, marginalize the opposition, etc. numbers don't lie. There are more viewers/listeners who do not think like Myron than do. Deal with it.

  42. Myron Rosmarin from Rosmarin Search Marketing, Inc., October 28, 2014 at 10:28 p.m.

    I'm happy to continue engaging in this debate but after reading these responses, I'm wondering if we're debating the same thing. Here's what I think I'm debating: what is the cause for Fox's winning numbers? Here's what I don't think I have to debate: does Fox lean right? I accept it as a given that it leans right. I honestly didn't think that required any discussion. If you agree that its audience is primarily leans right, and you also agree that MSNBC's audience primarily leans left, then it follows that that politics and an analysis of the nature of those two distinct audiences are fair game to help explain the numbers. If on the other hand you believe that the political leanings of their audiences are not a factor to help explain the differences in the ratings, well then I'm stumped. I have nothing more to say on the subject. I personally believe the nature of the target audience is a significant factor. PS: Tom, at no point did I sling epithets. It is true that I have a bias, perhaps I'm even "the most biased" as you say but I have every intention of keeping my contributions here civil. The second I cross that line, I'm out.

  43. Chuck Lantz from, network, October 29, 2014 at 12:01 a.m.

    If the loudest and most recognizable voices that support Fox News are to be believed, including Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch, every major televised news outlet besides Fox leans left; the infamous "Lame-stream Media." If we take their word for it, then Fox News moves, by their own reckoning, from #1 to no better than #4 in total viewership, since those same Fox supporters rarely, if ever, differentiate between broadcast and non-broadcast TV news media. By the same token, and again using their own math and logic, that also raises the actual number of "liberal viewers" exponentially.
    In short, they have painted themselves into a very tight corner.

  44. Leon Thomas from Flashy Trends, October 29, 2014 at 12:24 a.m.

    Good discussion but I love the implied implications when someone says "the numbers don't lie". So let's all agree, Fox is popular. As mentioned earlier, I'm one of those who contribute to their popularity. Rupert Murdoch is a shrewd businessman. He tapped into a right leaning audience that for the most part was under represented on TV. But let's not jump the gun and imply there is wisdom in the crowd. Just because it's popular, it doesn't make it good. Popularity is usually associated with the lowest common denominator. For instance, more people go to shopping malls than go to libraries, watch sports rather than documentaries or follow pop stars on twitter rather than news organizations. What can we imply from those statistics?

  45. Tom Scharre from The Hunch Fund, October 29, 2014 at 1:22 a.m.

    I give up. What 'implied implications'? "Let's not jump the gun and imply there is wisdom in the crowd." Wisdom? All I said was their crowd is bigger than the MSNBC/CNN crowd -- which is what this article is ostensibly all about. Is that because there are more knuckle-draggers than library goers; more anger-filled, heat-seeking viewers; more consistency to the Ailes template; more people who'd rather watch a blonde than a brunette? I don't claim to know. Whatever it is, there are simply MORE. This article is about the ineffectiveness of MSNBC to gain an audience. It is about quantity. Others seem to want to make it about quality -- who's better, smarter, more sophisticated, ideologically sounder; and then appoint themselves arbiters of that. And yes, in this context, the numbers don't lie. And if the numbers swung in Ronan Farrow & Rachel Maddow's direction, I'd say the same thing. Now, as Edward R. Murrow (of the exalted 'Tiffany network') used to say: good night & good luck.

  46. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 29, 2014 at 8:57 a.m.

    This discussion, while interesting, is straying pretty far from the premise---as I saw it----of the article. There is no doubt that many people now regard TV news, in general, as politically slanted. Surveys conducted thirty years ago found that 85-90% of news viewers had no idea what the political viewpoints of their favorite newscasters were; today, many viewers---up to 60% in some research---say that they think they know which side their favorite newscasters privately favor. That's a significant shift. As for the argument that if most broadcast and other non-Fox news sources are left-leaning this must indicate that most news viewers agree are also left-leaning, that's a very hard notion to buy. Just because more people see their favorite newscasters as liberal, rather than conservative oriented, this doesn't mean that they agree with that. Again, looking at the research, except for the cable extremes with Fox on the right and MSNBC on the left, CNN and the broadcast network news organizations draw viewers about evenly from all sides of the political spectrum. The latest Pew findings support this assessment. As I pointed out in my original post, there are two dimensions in the audience studies---reach and frequency. While CNN reaches more people that Fox, its viewers spend much less time with the channel, primarily----in my opinion----because most of its straight news information is redundant and can be grasped in a ten or fifteen minute sitting. In contrast, Fox viewers are far more absorbed by the political viewpoints espoused by hosts like O'Reilly, Kelly, etc.----because they agree with them----so they watch hour after hour of these shows. MSNBC's problem---again, my opinion----is that its liberal fans are lighter viewers, generally, and more into entertainment fare. Also, they are probably not as motivated to watch pro Democratic Party tirades as was once the case.

  47. Chuck Lantz from, network, October 29, 2014 at 10:34 a.m.

    So, it comes down to a choice between MSNBC's audience being either primarily "lighter viewers", or politically savvy individuals who watch a variety of news sources.

  48. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, October 29, 2014 at 10:59 a.m.

    Ed is correct. We have strayed to a certain degree. This discussion, at its core, was never about conjectures and implications. It was about an earnest effort to understand how people use television and perhaps "the news." Of course, people have a number of sources of print and video news. Nonetheless, if we frame the discussion tightly, and focus on persons reached (Reach) and time spent vieiwing (Frequency) -- as Ed recommended -- we have a chance at coming close to a useful understanding of the state of the State. With respect to political ideology and other demographic and psychographic traits, the challenge of measurment becomes more difficult and demanding. What I infer (not imply) from this chain of commentary is that, at least for some, there is strong interest in Tuesday's Election. That's good for the People and good for American Democracy. The commentaries on Election Coverage viewing and poll turnout should be good. See you on November 4th at the Polling Booth. We are so blessed as a Nation to have this right and responsibility. Peace be with all concerned.

  49. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 29, 2014 at 11 a.m.

    Chuch, being a lighter viewer does not imply a lack of sophistication. Rather, many light viewers----namely those who devote, say, 20-25 hours per week to TV instead of the typical heavy viewer's dosage of 50+ hours----tend to be better educated and interested in other forms of information/entertainment, not just TV. Whether this translates to them watching a lot of news sources, I can't say for sure. But, certainly, they watch far less often and devote less time per sitting than those who prefer Fox.

  50. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 29, 2014 at 11:01 a.m.

    Sorry for the typo, Chuck.

  51. Chuck Lantz from, network, October 29, 2014 at 12:23 p.m.

    Ed; I was being a bit snarky in my comment. I agree that liberals tend to be more sophisticated in their news source selection, and only rarely watch one particular program consistently, a good example being Jon Stewart's show. One problem I've seen, time and time again, is that those making the programming decisions at the left-leaning media outlets are using the same old guidelines that have been used for decades for middle-of-the-road news shows. MSNBC, CNN and Current have all made this mistake, tossing or reshuffling programs that didn't meet the old standards of X number of viewers in Y amount of time. By ignoring, or not understanding the differences in the viewing habits of liberals and conservatives, too often they kill a program that hasn't had time to develop a solid audience among liberals. As everyone here apparently understands, the left and right are very different audiences, who require very different programming strategies, which is something I don' think MSNBC understands.

  52. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, October 29, 2014 at 12:48 p.m.

    Why are we still typecasting and generalizing. Not all liberals are Students of the Enlightment or geniuses. Not all Conservatives are Neanderthals emerging from caves or idiots. Liberals and Conservatives are complex human beings whose belief systems need to be understood before communication of any kind -- like TV News -- should start. FOX News appears to understand something important about human nature that MSNBC & CNN do not.

  53. Chuck Lantz from, network, October 29, 2014 at 1:39 p.m.

    "FOX News appears to understand something important about human nature that MSNBC & CNN do not." ... After reading that line, I suppressed the urge to reply in such a manner that my tongue now requires stitches.

  54. Robert Martin from Add any news topic, October 29, 2014 at 3:05 p.m.

    Programmers at MSNBC and CNN may fully understand what FOX is doing and why. The primary reason they don't reproduce FOX is that the FOX audience is already well-served by FOX. What FOX is doing just won't work for any other demographic.

  55. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, October 29, 2014 at 4:41 p.m.

    Dear Chuck & Robert, You remind me of the Queen in Hamlet who said: "The lady doth protest too much, methinks. (Hamlet Act 3, scene 2). Your comments run the gamut from impolite self-righteousness to unkind ignorance. That's a shame given the importance of the topic. The issue is not the quantitative success of FNC, but the abject failure of MSNBC or CNN to reach an adequate competitive audience in numerical terms. Occam's Razor applies here. The simplest explanation is the best: the FOX News Channel produces better television programming than its competitors. Whether you agree or disagree with the positions it takes matters not. More people spend more time watching it. That's where Nielsen Ratings come from. It's best not to joke or to pontificate until you know whereof you speak. Chill out.

  56. Leon Thomas from Flashy Trends, October 29, 2014 at 6:48 p.m.

    Adam Buckman this is a columnist dream when you write an article and it explodes like this. Good topic.

  57. Chuck Lantz from, network, October 29, 2014 at 7 p.m.

    Nicholas: Yikes! Either I miswrote or you misread my comments. I agree that Fox does a better programming job than MSNBC and CNN, and I hope that came through in my posts. My point is that, due to the general difference in audiences, MSNBC and CNN should not, in my opinion, be trying to emulate Fox when making certain programming decisions, but SHOULD be emulating them when making others. An example would be consistency, which Fox has and MSNBC and CNN do not. Juggled time-slots and personalities stifle "brand loyalty." And making such decisions at MSNBC and CNN based on Fox numbers, and trying to match those numbers, is insane. If the US viewing-age population was exactly 50/50 between right and left, any single right-leaning media outlet will draw more total viewers than any left-leaning outlet. That's just the way it is.

  58. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, November 5, 2014 at 5:40 p.m.

    Question Asked & Answered:

    Fox News the Election Night Ratings Winner ...

    Fox News the Election Night Ratings
    NOVEMBER 5, 2014 | 05:15PM ET

    Rick Kissell
    Fox News was once again the runaway cable news ratings leader on an Election Night, while CNN held up well even without carriage in DISH Network homes and opened a wider advantage over MSNBC.

    FNC also won the 10 p.m. ET hour, which included national coverage on ABC, CBS and NBC.

    According to Nielsen, Fox News averaged 1.662 million adults 25-54 and 6.31 million viewers overall during primetime — beating the combined totals of CNN (909,000 and 2.11 million) and MSNBC (525,000 and 1.687 million).

    As the graying of the news audience (and electorate) continues, all three cable newsies were down in the demo vs. the mid-term election numbers of 2010. CNN dropped the least (roughly 10%).

    Head-to-head at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Fox News out-rated all other networks. In adults 25-54, its 1.83 million bested CBS (1.55 million), NBC (1.48 million), ABC (1.08 million), CNN (912,000) and MSNBC (566,000). And in total viewers, its 6.61 million was more than 1 million better than runner-up CBS (5.41 million).

    Due to Turner Broadcasting’s contract dispute with satellite giant DISH, CNN is currently unavailable in DISH Network homes. The projected impact nationally among adults 25-54 is roughly 13% of the network’s audience, according to CNN.

  59. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, November 7, 2014 at 5:01 p.m.

    medialife MAGAZINE

    Cable Shorts

    Cable overnights: FNC rides election momentum
    November 6, 2014

    Fox News Channel’s election high continued into the day after the midterms.

    On Wednesday, one night after it posted the best 10 p.m. ratings on election night, FNC had eight of the day’s top shows in total viewers on cable, according to Nielsen.

    Its top program, “The O’Reilly Factor,” averaged 4.096 million total viewers. It had four shows that drew at least 3 million.

  60. Chuck Lantz from, network, November 7, 2014 at 8:51 p.m.

    Wow! Those are getting close to Sponge Bob numbers, though they miss the Big Bang Theory re-runs by a bunch. But do keep trying. ;)

  61. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, November 21, 2014 at 11:29 p.m.

    People are attracted to a discourse of discourse, of destruction - boom goes the building - controversy, sex, lies and video tapes. The blathering doesn't have to be true, just tintalating, riling, and feed the fodder. Religion has been doing this since the first person banged a stick on a rock to scare away a predator. It's all based on fear and hate for power and control of the purse.

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