According to Nielsen numbers, Hannity lost around half of his audience in the weeks after the election, while his Fox News colleague Bill O’Reilly — who steadfastly refuses to identify himself politically as a conservative — retained around 70% of his audience.The NYDN quotes Conor Friedersdorf from The Atlantic for some perspective:
So what happened to Hannity?
The going wisdom is that viewers who basked in his preelection anti-Obama rhetoric tuned him out when they were stunned to wake up on Nov. 7 and discover that the President had won a second term — a scenario that Hannity had all but promised could never happen.
“The right-leaning outlets like Fox News and Rush Limbaugh’s show are far more intellectually closed than CNN or public radio. If you’re a rank-and-file conservative, you’re probably ready to acknowledge that ideologically friendly media didn’t accurately inform you about Election 2012. Some pundits engaged in wishful thinking; others feigned confidence in hopes that it would be a self-fulfilling prophecy; still others decided it was smart to keep telling right-leaning audiences what they wanted to hear.”For what it's worth, the more left leaning and centrist pundits, Rachel Maddow on MSNBC and Anderson Cooper on CNN, have seen little audience erosion. Maddow lost little and Anderson virtually none.
I'd certainly like to think that it reflects a permanent dispiriting that would signal a major realigning of the goals and tactics of the Conservative Entertainment Complex™. I'd like to think they'll wake up and recognize that constantly catering to the basest instincts of the Republican Party—however divorced from reality they might be—is not ultimately a good strategy. I'd like to dream of a world where the unmitigated bullshit the Conservative Entertainment Complex™ spews becomes their own undoing when the populous decides to seek out better sources of information.
But Conservative Entertainment Complex™ appears to have learned nothing from the election results.
I really think it's a cyclical blip. The Conservative Entertainment Complex™ won't see the light that easily, and their viewers haven't realized Hannity is feeding them a pack of lies. They're basically just dispirited and depressed and want to avoid all the bad news. They want to avoid having their nose rubbed in their fail during this very sensitive time. And, of course, they're all at guns shows stocking up. They have bunkers to build, dammit.
The fact that the lefter-leaning media is untouched indicates people who are able to cope with information from the reality-based universe are still interested and engaged in politics, and those who can't are just hiding out.
But the need Fox News' crowd feels to escape from reality and make their own alternative universe will not go away overnight.
And, by the time midterms roll around, Hannity will continue to feed his viewers lies and distortions and ridiculous hyperbolic nonsense. And his audience will sense—in their gut—that "this time will be different!" And they will follow him right over the Conservative Entertainment Complex™ cliff once again. Whatever charlatan Hannity and company will anoint as the savior of the conservative movement, they'll rally around them. There will be 2014 version of Romney, Mourdock, Cain, Akin, O'Donnell, Angle and Palin ... (or maybe those actual people, past failure is never a disqualifier).
Whoever it is, they will have finally found their "true conservative" and this time, the perfect conduit for the message! They'll find a silver bullet, be it Benghazi or the birth certificate or some new fabricated poutrage, and that one will really make the voters finally see the "truth."
And so it will continue.
Which is not to say we shouldn't savor this sweet moment of schadenfreude. Happy New Year! Please enjoy.