Hannity Beats Maddow Handily in First Four Nights Head-to-Head
The ongoing cable news wars gave renewed life to Fox News as Sean Hannity beat Rachel Maddow in the first four nights that they went head-to-head in prime time last week. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show had emerged as cable news’s #1 program in recent months against Fox’s weak offering at 9 P.M., The Five, which moved back to 5 P.M. to make room for Hannity.
Fox News, which had led the cable TV news ratings for fifteen years until earlier this year, was suffering this spring and summer after schedule upheavals that resulted from the loss of major on-air talent and several of its top executives following published allegations and internal investigations of sexual harassment.
Finally last Monday September 25, after weeks of behind the scenes maneuvering and negotiations, Fox News kicked off its new fall prime time lineup, initially involving Hannity moving his show to 9 P.M. It will be complete on October 30, when Laura Ingraham premieres her new show at 10 P.M. E.T. and a new live news program with Shannon Bream launches at 11 P.M.
Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow
For the moment, though, all eyes have been on the new contest at 9 P.M. pitting Sean Hannity against Rachel Maddow. Hannity took over the hour that had been occupied since May 1 by the ensemble political talk show The Five, featuring the insufferable left-wing propagandist Juan Williams in a prominent role. Hundreds of readers commenting on my articles at American Thinker in recent months have identified The Five and Williams in particular as unworthy of prime time and viewers across the country had apparently agreed, since The Five was a ratings loser against Maddow. Meanwhile, Hannity, a 21-year veteran of prime time on Fox News and the second most popular talk radio host in the country, has already pulled ahead of Maddow.
Hannity assembled a strong lineup of guests in his first week at 9 P.M. and he handily won every night in the ratings so far (Mon-Thurs) except that on Wednesday MSNBC tied Fox News at 9 P.M. in the “demo” (viewers 25-54). As Chris Ariens’ article in TVNewser at Adweek headlined it on Friday September 29, “Hannity Poised to Win the Week in New Timeslot.”
Big bookings by the team from Hannity will almost certainly make that show No. 1 across cable news this week.
In fact, Hannity’s guests this past week all made news for their appearances on his show. Former White House advisor Steve Bannon on Monday in his first live cable news interview since leaving the White House in August. The unprecedented return of fired host Bill O’Reilly for a 25-minute long appearance on Tuesday. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan in a conversation in his office at the Capitol with Hannity on Wednesday. And Rush Limbaugh, the nation’s #1 radio talk show host, with Hannity at his studio in Florida on Thursday and Friday.
In addition to the high-powered guests, Hannity is now doing his show live five nights a week, which adds a more immediate, breaking news quality to the program. Both MSNBC and CNN air most of their prime time shows live, as well.
The numbers from this week tell the story. According to Early Nielsen Media Research (the Nielsen company has measured TV ratings since the 1950s), in the 9 P.M. E.T. hour Monday through Thursday this week:
Friday night’s ratings – and the final, entire week’s averages – won’t be available until next Monday October 2.
Drudge Report headline Friday Sept. 29, 2017 4 P.M. E.T.
Ultimately, this is one week out of the year. Experienced observers are cautioning that the winners in the battle for supremacy in cable news ratings overall, and the critical 9 P.M. hour in particular, will still probably shift back and forth in the weeks ahead. How the news, and the fate of the Trump Administration, play out will also be a factor. But even the MSM has been forced to admit that Fox News is off to a strong start.
Sean Hannity, suggesting that he is taking the long view and also confirming my impression of him that he is a man of considerable humility, replied to my email on Friday about the ratings success with this comment: “Thanks Peter. Although I know it’s a marathon not a sprint.”
Largely left in the dust, as it has been, is CNN, which has been coming in a poor third lately with its schedule of prime-time programs hosted by Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon. Each night, the two hosts’ shows feature panels largely made up of anti-Trump reporters and Democratic Party activists and serve as a de facto Resist Trump HQ. In August, CNN fired Jeffrey Lord, its most articulate conservative analyst, on the pretext that he had tweeted as satire a comment – a common greeting in Germany during the Nazi era – to a left wing activist at Media Matters with whom he was engaging in a twitter battle.
Stepping back for a moment, the big picture of the current cable news wars is this: The Shadow Government and its minions in the Deep State are targeting the media, both alternative and mainstream, for a take down – and they have had considerable success in turning the MSM into a one-voice echo chamber for 24/7 anti-Trump propaganda. This lack of diverse viewpoints in almost the entire MSM, with the exception of Fox News, is unprecedented in modern times and presents an obvious threat to the future of the Republic. Several recent studies by mainstream institutions have confirmed that the MSM is tilting its coverage of President Trump so that it’s over 9 to 1 negative. Meanwhile, about one half (technically 52 percent negative to 48 percent positive) of the coverage of the Trump Administration by Fox News, true to its long time “fair and balanced” credo, has been negative.