For several weeks now Rachel Maddow's MSNBC program has been picking up steam. Last Monday she rose into the ratings top ten in her time period. And that momentum continued for the rest of the week. As a result, she just snagged a victory over every primetime program for the week of March 6-10.
The Hollywood Reporter noted the achievement saying that:
"Rachel Maddow, MSNBC's star player, is enjoying one hell of a ratings run right now.
"The cable news network's 9 o'clock host outrated every other primetime show during the week of March 6. Not only did that make her show No. 1 among adults 25-54 in her time slot with an average 624,000 viewers, she even beat cable news' perennial victor — Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly."
A showing this strong is evidence of a titanic shift in the television audience. Bill O'Reilly has been the cable news king of the hill fairly consistently for years. He hasn't seen any real competition since Keith Olbermann. In her time period, Maddow's weekly average crushed her direct competition, Fox's newest primetime host Tucker Carlson. And her victory included both total audience and the key advertising demographic of viewers 25-54. The smug superiority of Carlson was quickly embraced by Fox's viewers. However, his bewildered and annoyed shtick seems to be wearing thin.
Maddow's rise has occurred simultaneously with Donald Trump's collapse. Trump's approval ratings started in the cellar with the lowest numbers ever recorded for a new president. And they have just gone down from there. This week alone he sunk five points to a pitiful 39 percent.
Consequently, Fox News is pulling out all the stops to prop up their propaganda. Sean Hannity blasted Maddow on Monday for daring to report on Trump's ties to Vladimir Putin and Russia. Ordinarily Hannity wouldn't bother to speak her name aloud. But now he is featuring her in his rants. First he complained that she didn't have "a shred of evidence" tying Trump to Putin. That's true. She doesn't have a shred, she has truck load. Then Hannity asked the most blitheringly ironic question ever: "Do these people have any intellectual honesty?" No comment on that is necessary.
As for Carlson, he just announced that he will be interviewing Trump on Wednesday. Given Trump's toxic presence, that might not be a great programming move. Fox's glassy-eyed loyalists will love it, but the broader TV audience will likely stay away. What could they possibly learn from television's most sycophantic Trump fluffer spending an hour with his idol?
That's a problem that Fox News is going to have to contend with for the foreseeable future. Their star attraction is viewed by most Americans as an ignorant bigot who is intent on taking away their healthcare. During the campaign Trump was still a novelty and many people watched just to see if he would burst a blood vessel in his neck or slap an immigrant child. But the public knows Trump now and they've lost interest in his juvenile antics. And the more he is paraded out on Fox News, the better it will be for Maddow and MSNBC. Maybe CNN should start paying attention.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.
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