CNN and MSNBC ratings plummet, Fox News triumphs in wake of 'no collusion'
The long awaited news on Sunday that the Mueller Report had exonerated President Trump of collusion with Russia instantly shed major new light on the complicity of the mainstream media in perpetrating the mass delusion of collusion. The news also had an immediate and potentially game-changing impact on the cable news television ratings.
Starting on Sunday and continuing all day Monday, CNN and MSNBC — the two cable "news" channels that over the past two years have morphed into high-impact electronic facilitators of the anti-Trump resistance — saw their ratings plummet...precipitously. Meanwhile, the Fox News Channel (FNC), the only mainstream media outlet to even question the whole collusion meme from the outset, trounced the competition. On Monday, Fox News had more than twice as many viewers — in both total numbers and in the preferred 25- to 54-year-old demographic — than MSNBC and CNN combined. According to Nielsen Media Research, FNC surpassed CNN and MSNBC combined in every hour on Monday from 5 P.M. to 12 midnight, while CNN had its second lowest weekday prime-time ratings of 2019 and its third lowest demo of the year.
Obviously energized and invigorated by the positive official news absolving President Trump of collusion, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham, FNC's three prime-time hosts, did some of their best shows ever on Monday. Greatly assisting their efforts was their access to and the expert editing and presentation of an archive of video clips of CNN and MSNBC hosts and guests projecting the demise of President Trump and predicting his indictment at the hands of Special Counsel Robert Mueller going back to 2016 and right up to last week. The unequivocal description of the Mueller Report by Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — namely, that that there was no collusion with Russia on the part of Trump and his campaign to impact the 2016 presidential election — gave added meaning to the clips and to the analysis by the hosts and guests all evening on Fox News.
As a constant viewer of cable news and a veteran reporter and analyst of the business behind the flat screen and before that the tube, going back decades, I hadn't experienced such a natural high since the evening of November 8, 2016, when Donald J. Trump was declared the winner of the presidency.
Sean Hannity's opening monologue, Fox News Channel March 25, 2019.
Sean Hannity's exceptional Monday show was not interrupted by a commercial break until 45 minutes into the one-hour program. This unusual format allowed the host almost a full half-hour for his opening monologue, "Mainstream media has lied to you for years" (transcript, video), which began:
We have so much to unpack here. I'm just telling you tonight, it's the tip of the iceberg. This will take months.
Stay with us. I have so many details. And we are holding everyone accountable.
Mueller's report on Russia election interference finds, as we have been telling you, zero collusion between the president, his campaign, and Russia. Tonight, Newt Gingrich, Senator Lindsey Graham, the great one Mark Levin, Rudy Giuliani, Jay Sekulow will be here in just a moment.
My opening monologue and how we got here, what it means — and more importantly where do we go forward. ...
Many of you since yesterday have been writing to me and you want me to spike the football. I am not in any type of celebratory mood. This is a time where every American that now knows the truth should be angry at what has happened here to all of America. I am ticked off, and the rest of the country should be, too.
This is only the first chapter. This must be a day of reckoning for the media, for the Deep State, for people who abused power — and did it so blatantly.
On Monday evening, Fox News not only exceeded the number of viewers of MSNBC and CNN combined. It also beat two of the broadcast network channels, including CBS, which ran a Mueller Report special, and ABC, which programmed Fix It.
In 2017 and into 2018, I reported extensively in a series of articles for American Thinker on the cable news wars and the low and high points of Fox News. After 15 years of ratings dominance, Fox News in early 2017 was in trouble: its brilliant co-founder and CEO Roger Ailes had been forced out in July 2016, and months of tumult followed, including the upending of FNC's dominant prime time schedule early in 2017 with the departures of hosts Megyn Kelley and Bill O'Reilly. After the disastrous summer of 2017, Fox News righted itself with the strongest conservative prime time opinion line-up in its 20+ year history, with Carlson, Hannity, and Ingraham holding down 8–11 P.M. E.T.
According to most metrics, in 2018 and 2019 to date, FNC has held on to its overall ratings lead, well ahead of not only its cable news competition, but almost all other cable television channels as well. It was often bested in prime time, however, by MSNBC and its virulent, one-sided, non-stop anti-Trump programming, especially in the 9 P.M., hour when resistance icon Rachel Maddow often beat Sean Hannity in the demo and sometimes in total viewers.
The ratings success of MSNBC and to a lesser extent CNN — which usually did much better in the demo compared with its paltry numbers of total viewers — suggested that the strategy of the executives at NBC and CNN starting in November 2016 to go all-out 24/7 anti-Trump was paying off.
The collapse of the ratings for these two resistance channels since this past weekend, however, may be a sign that not only is their heyday coming to an end — but the whole political game in the wake of the Mueller Report has changed and, with it, the prospects for the looming presidential campaign and the re-election of President Trump in 2020.
On Tuesday evening, an email from Fox News Media Relations informed me that "Sean Hannity will present an exclusive interview with President Donald Trump on Wednesday, March 27th at 9 PM ET [with a replay at 10 P.M. P.T]. During the interview, President Trump will react to Attorney General William Barr's summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report and discuss the latest [news] surrounding his administration, including border security."
Peter Barry Chowka writes about politics, media, popular culture, and health care for American Thinker and other publications. Peter's new website is http://peter.media. Follow him on Twitter at @pchowka.