Free Markets, Free People

Fox News Channel Dominates

I bring this story to your attention because of the questions it raises.  First the story by Steve Krakauer – then the questions:

Fox News had its best January in the history of the network, and was the only cable news network to grow year-to-year.

FNC also had the top 13 programs on cable news in total viewers for the fifth month in a row, and the top 13 programs in the A25-54 demographic for the first time in more than five years.

• FNC grew in double digits in both total viewers and the A25-54 demographic from January 2009. In prime time, it was up 22% in total viewers and 51% in the demo[graphic]. CNN was down 34% and 37% and MSNBC down 26% and 38%. In total day, FNC was up 16% and 28%. CNN was down 34% and 41% and MSNBC down 28% and 39%. Last January all networks performed while with the Inauguration coverage. This month, the big political event was Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts, which FNC dominated in the ratings.

Fox News Channel has been a target of a concerted campaign by the White House to discredit it for a year. How well does that strategy seem to be working?

If, as the left likes to claim, FNC is simply a mouthpiece for the Republican party, what do these numbers tell us?

If, as the right contends, MSNBC is a shill for the left, what do its numbers tell us?

Why does FNC dominate the all important 25-54 demographic?

Last – do these numbers really portend anything of political significance, or does FNC just do a more entertaining (and dare I say it, more “fair and balanced”) job of presenting news and opinion?

~McQ

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38 Responses to Fox News Channel Dominates

  • What news has become is a set of simplifications of reality built around interpretations that get sold politically.   Fox frames and posits information in a way that serves a political agenda, with MSNBC doing so on the left.   CNN tends to have a mainstream-centrist establishment bias.  People make decisions on politics with minimal information, usually choosing to believe things that fit their bias, and cherry picking the news.   Stations like Fox (or MSNBC) or even this blog do likewise, supporting a particular interpretation of reality and positing it as true.  Global warming is a classic example.   Most climate change scientists are convinced that the theory and data is strong.  But you can cherry pick mistakes or mini-scandals that don’t even touch the real wealth of data, and turn that into a media event that allows people not well informed of the science to buy into a narrative that apparently has world scientists in some kind of conspiracy.
    The problem is that when people have these narratives, bolstered by their choice of data to entertain and their own interpretation, they become convinced that their views are not only true, but so obviously true that those who disagree must be either ignorant or somehow bad, perhaps following some devious “agenda.”   The only way for any one, left or right, to avoid being trapped by this kind of “what I want to believe is clearly true” mentality is to really engage other opinions honestly, and openly — to listen and communicate.   What happens if people create a self-contained narrative where they’ve defined themselves as “good” and the other as “evil,” is a need to personally attack and villify those on the other side.  It can be the President (Bush or Obama), other leaders (Pelosi, Ried, or McConnell, etc.), pundits (Krugman or Krauthammer) or other bloggers.   Rather than communicating, it becomes a kind of  effort by all sides to protect very simplistic interpretations of a complex reality from any true questioning.
    And that, more than anything else, is the core problem facing the United States today.   If we could solve that, listen to each other, and recognize that it’s not good vs. evil in most cases, but well intentioned but different understandings of the world, we could be in a better position to make democracy work.  Otherwise, we are witnessing the unrivaling of this great Republic.

    • “If we could solve that, listen to each other, and recognize that it’s not good vs. evil in most cases, but well intentioned but different understandings of the world, we could be in a better position to make democracy work.”
      Pollyana is busy here.  Define “make democracy work.”

    • Whenever you are unable to make real arguments about real facts, Scott, you like to talk grand process. But you really just come off as a second rate academic, with no sense of scholarship but rather with an abundance of ideology that you try to stuff under the pillows as if you hadn’t been seen playing with it a thousand times.

    • “usually choosing to believe things that fit their bias, and cherry picking the news.  ” so, recently then according to your theory, the country has shifted to the right.
      “But you can cherry pick mistakes or mini-scandals that don’t even touch the real wealth of data, and turn that into a media event that allows people not well informed of the science to buy into a narrative that apparently has world scientists in some kind of conspiracy.” – ah, your response to the Global Warming disaster without making a response on a global warming post.  We’re ‘cherry picking’ the fact that IPCC used information from bogus sources, that the UEA hid and misrepresented their data (as determined by the British Government…who must have cherry picked their facts in deciding that, according to you….), etc.  But you wisely know which data is true, and which data is not true, because?
      “The problem is that when people have these narratives, bolstered by their choice of data to entertain and their own interpretation, they become convinced that their views are not only true, but so obviously true that those who disagree must be either ignorant or somehow bad, perhaps following some devious “agenda.” – from the man who at one point declared he wouldn’t post here because we were deluded neo NAZI’s who wouldn’t listen to reason about his pet global warming fixation.  If we weren’t bad, you certainly thought we were (and are it seems) ignorant.
      “If we could solve that, listen to each other, and recognize that it’s not good vs. evil in most cases, but well intentioned but different understandings of the world, we could be in a better position to make democracy work.  Otherwise, we are witnessing the unrivaling of this great Republic.” proving you don’t ever learn from history – the American Republic has been one long continuous argument, from Federalism to Slavery to Secession to late 19th century Imperialism to Prohibition to the Cold War, and Abortion with wars, both wildly sanctioned to marginally sanctioned, thrown in for spice.  It’s a big experiment, and always has been.   We argue, it’s what we do, in order to form a more perfect union.

    • The truth about Erb —
      It’s just bumper stickers
      all
      the
      way
      down.

      • Must be a helluva big bumper. More like one of those snow plow blades I have seen so much recently.

        Since we all know that brevity is the soul of wit, this is just another example of his witlessness.

  • McQWhy does FNC dominate the all important 25-54 demographic?

    If I may indulge in a little juvenile behavior for a moment, have you seen some of the babes on FNC???

    ;-)

    But your question is a good one.  Possibilities:

    1.  A large fraction of the public percieves that FNC shares their political biases;

    2.  A large fraction of the public percieves that FNC delivers more-or-less UNbiased news;

    3.  A large fraction of the public turns to FNC to get “the other side” as compared to the news they get from the Big Three, most newspapers and wire services, NPR, etc.

    I suggest that there is no really clear answer.  Part of the problem is that many prime-time cable news programs are opinion / analysis which are SUPPOSED to be biased (something braindead libs can’t quite seem to grasp when they rant about Hannity or O’Reilly: they are commentators, not reporters).  It could be something as simple as a larger audience likingO’Reilly instead of Olbermann, or Hannity instead of King, just as more Americans liked Cronkite instead of his competitors.

    •  

      McQWhy does FNC dominate the all important 25-54 demographic?
       
      1.  A large fraction of the public percieves that FNC shares their political biases;
      2.  A large fraction of the public percieves that FNC delivers more-or-less UNbiased news;
      3.  A large fraction of the public turns to FNC to get “the other side” as compared to the news they get from the Big Three, most newspapers and wire services, NPR, etc.

      Those demos represent a huge voting bloc over the next 30-60 years.  If your suggestions are valid (and I see no reason why they should not) then the FNC viewpoints are taken seriously by this voting bloc and will be a potent election cycle factor for decades.

    • For me, it’s that the LapDog media is blatantly out of touch with reality (and that devolves to the “bias”.
      OTOH, FNC is more in touch (not completely by any means) with said reality.

    • have you seen some of the babes on FNC???

      There’s a reason that I watch FNC, but don’t listen…  :)

  • All that matters is that this pisses off the progressives.  They deserve to endlessly whine and fret about it for months.  Maybe they’ll waste time and money creating a progressive radio station or something like that.

    • Yeah, and the progressive might be happy when Obama does something that pisses off the conservatives.  But is that really what this country is about, one camp becoming happiest when the other camp is pissed off?   Is that really best for the country given the problems we face?   A lot of emotion flies in the political wars these days, but it strikes me that this often stands in the way of reason.

      • Scott, I don’t care about the progressives or their ‘movement'; their efforts are net negative.  I’m very happy to see them pissed off, running around in circles and foaming at the mouth.  That’s a unproductive state and the more they are in it the less likely they are to harm this country.  This is a strategy to keep the enemy off balance and focused on the wrong things.  Yes, they are the enemy.

        • I’m sure they feel the same way about conservatives and their “movement.”  Meanwhile, most people would prefer people stop worrying about movements and isms, and solve some problems!   You can have your fantasies that the other side are “enemies,” and they I’m sure think the same about you.   The rest of us would just like to get the country back on track, find workable compromises, and avoid grand schemes and movements.

          • The state of Maine could “solve some problems” pretty quickly by dumping an ignorant piker like you off the academic dole, Scott.

            Not just for the cost savings, but for the miseducation of Maine’s young people.

          • Really Scott, your cliches are divorced from reality.  You don’t even know what you mean when you say “get the country back on track.”  When exactly was it ‘on track’?  That’s like declaring the ideal world temperature.
            Workable compromises? What does that mean? Define yourself professor.  Your terms mean nothing.
            Most people would prefer to stop worrying about everything and have most of their problems solved. They don’t want to do the hard work of solving problems.  So there’s a vacuum to be filled and the progressives are more than happy to do so.  Since those progressive solutions will cause me harm, I’m not interested in compromising.  And since they will cause me harm, that makes them the enemy.  That’s direct and clear, something you don’t seem to be able to do or appreciate.

          • GrimshawSince those progressive solutions will cause me harm, I’m not interested in compromising.  And since they will cause me harm, that makes them the enemy. 

            Well said.  This strikes to the core of (for example) Rush’s comments about hoping that Imeme fails.  What Imeme and the rest of the democrat trash want to do seems to me bad for me, my country, and the world*.  Why would I want to compromise with them, any more than I would want to “compromise” with a thug who plans to rob and cripple or murder me?

            —–

            (*) Yes, I believe that a strong, confident America is generally a force for good in the world.  Who else will we leave in charge?  KGB Putin?  The Red Chinese?

          • It wasn’t that long ago that Scott was on here actually GLOATING about Obama and the permanent marginalization of the GOP.

            And now he’s reduced to this “political winds shift” and “both sides need to work together” claptrap.

            I DON’T WANT TO WORK WITH THE LEFT. THEY HAVE NOTHING TO OFFER THIS COUNTRY THAT I CAN SUPPORT.

      • What the country is about, Scott, is getting back to the basic ideas that work, like self-reliance, freedom, strong virtue, and common sense.

        The technocratic visions and “moral equivalent off war” nonsense of the Progressives has long put it’s left-handed and ersatz idea of America forward as the only truth. America has survived in spite of that elitist, overbearing paradigm, because its residual store of freedom and virtue saw it through.

        But the time has come to put bums like you back down by the freight tracks where you belong. You’re just an expense that people can no longer afford.

  • Fox is more blatant with its bias. If I had cable, and a tv, and a living room, I might watch CNN. Not Fox. Fox reminds me of the also-popular Jerry Springer show.

    • How would you know – not having cable or a tv? And do you separate “news” and “opinion” shows when making this assessment? As I understand it, opinion shows are supposed to have a bias – in favor of the opinion.

    • I think that the general opinion is that FOX is openly biased.  I’m not sure that it’s true, though.  But it’s a theme that gets mentioned all the time by those on the left and by the rest of the MSM, and I wonder if the attention isn’t what helps draw people to it.  They want to see this comical bias for themselves.  Apparently, whether or not they find it, they seem to find something that keeps them tuning in.  It’s also possible that, blatant or not, the public is turned off by the left-leaning bias in much of the mainstream reporting they see, read, and hear.

  • Anita Dunn.
    Van Jones.
    ACORN and the O’Keefe/Giles kerfuffle.
    If you weren’t watching FOX News, you were blissfully IGNORANT of these issues and probably unaware why Dunn and Jones resigned their posts. John Edwards, GLOBAL WARMING!!!!, the Birth Certificate coverup…
    Our media is still failing us.

    • This.  One needs to tune-in to FNC or equivalent if one wants to see the whole story.  It’s not FNC’s “fault” it fills-in the gaps.  The MSM could eat FNC’s lunch of they wanted too, but they don’t.

  • If the viewers tune into Fox because they feel the rest of the MSM is covering for the Dems, there will be a natural experiment eventually when the GOP is back in office. At that point, the public will migrate back to the rest of the MSM to get the red meat on the administration.
    But I also suspect the 2008 election poisoned many consumers on the MSM.

  • If you don’t mind, I’d rather ignore the topic of the original post and take to task those who disagree with me on political issues.  They should be more like me and others like me and work for real solutions to the problems our great country faces.  It’s time that we make democracy work for the good of everyone rather than see the world through the narrow lens of ideology.

  • The real problem lies with Comcast, Brighthouse, Verizon et al for having the audacity to carry Fox cable programming.  Why, it’s almost as if these companies are giving their paying customers what they want!  How dare they.

    What we are witnessing is the unraveling of the Republic when those supposedly in the know disagree with their betters:  you know, like small town, college professors.

    I, for one, trust their judgement far more than I trust my own; after all, I too subscribe to a provider who offers Fox cable channels.

  • Where are all the white women at ?   Sorry just woke up.

  • The truth to the popularity of FNC, is that in a world of “vanilla,” most people would seek out “rocky road”.
    ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC are all vanilla.  Well, MSNBC has a cup of vanilla beans per quart making it a bit bitter, but when you close your eyes, these folks are all the same.   These are the networks of the “educated class” .. in other words, they know nothing except what was talked about at their last cocktail party on either the Right or Left Coast.

  • If, as the right contends, MSNBC is a shill for the left, what do its numbers tell us?

    That liberals don’t even listen to themselves.  (I saw that written years ago about NPR, and it’s just as applicable here.)

  • This is really quite simple, If I want news and opinion which is left wing, or establishment/liberal then I can chose three big networks, NPR and PBS, CNN, or the other cable news outlets.
    But if I want an opinion or a slant on the news that is not lockstep with that zeitgeist then I only have Fox.  So Fox takes that entire demographic while the other is split up.
    Also, Fox is fair and balanced, even in its opinion shows, compared to the other networks because they allow progressives on their shows all the time.  All of the following people wither work for Fox, have worked for Fox, or are reappearing regulars:
    Juan Williams
    Susan Estritch
    Alan Colmes
    Mark Lamont Hill
    Geraldo Rivera
    and that left wing General, (can’t remember his name) who was a big critic of Bush.
    Now show me the other news organizations who have a similar bunch of conservatives?
    Despite what Erb says, that people want us to stop our partisanship and get things done. I don’t really believe that.  The Majority of the people want the “right” side to win, and then get something done, or else have gridlock and get nothing accomplished.
    That is because the average guy is smart enough to have figured out that it is often better that government do nothing than to jump into a problem and make it worse.

    • kyle8… people want us to stop our partisanship and get things done. I don’t really believe that.  The Majority of the people want the “right” side to win, and then get something done, or else have gridlock and get nothing accomplished.

      That is because the average guy is smart enough to have figured out that it is often better that government do nothing than to jump into a problem and make it worse.

      I think you’re exactly right.  This is one reason that calls for “bipartisanship” and “setting aside our differences to get things done” really irritate me, because they fly in the face of reality.  On many issues currently facing our country, there are huge differences between what various groups think ought to be done.  For example, a very liberal person might think that the best way to solve the health care “crisis” is for the government to completely take over the system; Uncle Sugar will be your doctor.  I, on the other hand, think that the best way to reform the system is for the federal government to get out of it entirely.  There isn’t much room for compromise between the two positions.

      I add that the other reason that I’ve come to detest calls for bipartisanship is that I recognize them as a democrat ploy to stifle criticism of democrat policies and proposals: “let’s all work together” is Newspeak for “shut up and do what your wise liberal masters tell you to do”.

  • I have watched and read the mainstream organs of information for far too many years. I have also watched CSPAN since its inception. CSPAN is unfiltered reality. FOX news (I do NOT include opinion like Hannity or Oreilly as news) corresponds to CSPAN far more than the traditional organs of information. That is why I watch FOX news. I do not watch Hannity or Oreilly, etc.

  • It is really a matter of numbers.  About 1/3 of the US populace are liberal.  About 1/3 conservative.  About 1/3 independent or middle of the road.  These numbers shift around a bit from election cycle to election cycle depending on what’s going on, but generally that’s the break down.
    However, only one TV news channel offers positions and stories fairly consistently framed from the middle to the right on issues.  So all those others are getting their collective asses kicked, as people search around for a different slant on the story.  When they find one that’s doing that, they come back.  If they were smart, they’d compete on that battle ground, by hiring real independents and real conservatives and giving them room to go along with maintaining their left of center on air personalities.
    However, they can’t see this forest for the trees because they think their views are the forest, rather than outlier scrub brush.