The cable news ratings wars – as predicted – heated up this past week as Fox News began introducing its revised prime time schedule, primarily by shifting Sean Hannity’s 10 P.M. E.T. show to 9 P.M. so he could challenge MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. As leaders of the anti-Trump “Resistance,” MSNBC and Maddow had grown their audience significantly since a year ago and Maddow had moved into the cable news lead with her nightly left wing anti-Trump attack show.
Meanwhile, 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 resulting from the loss of major on-air talent and several of its its top executives after published allegations of sexual harassment and subsequent internal investigations.
Finally last Monday September 25, after weeks of behind the scenes maneuvering and negotiations, Fox News kicked off its new prime time lineup, primarily involvining Sean Hannity moving his program to 9 P.M. It will be complete on October 30 when Laura Ingraham launches her new nightly show at 10 P.M. E.T. and a new live news program anchored by Shannon Bream premieres at 11 P.M..
For the moment, though, all eyes have been on the new contest at 9 P.M. pitting Sean Hannity against Rachel Maddow. Previously, since May 1, the 9 P.M. hour on Fox News had been occupied by the ensemble left-right 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 have targeted The Five and Williams in particular as unworthy of prime time and viewers across the nation apparently agreed since The Five was a ratings loser against Maddow. Meanwhile, Hannity, clearly a stronger contender, has pulled ahead of Maddow this week.
Hannity assembled a strong lineup of guests in his first week at 9 P.M. week to challenge MSNBC 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 of TVNewser at Adweek reported in his article 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 week all made news. 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 his office at the Capitol with Hannity on Wednesday. And Rush Limbaugh, the nation’s #1 radio talk show host, with Hannity in Florida on Thursday, with part two airing later on Friday.
In addition to the high-power 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. The numbers from this week tell the story. According to Early Nielsen Media Research (Nielsen has provided TV ratings since the 1950s), in the 9 P.M. E.T. hour Monday through Thursday this week:
FNC’s Hannity delivered 3,715,000 total viewers and 779,000 in ages 25-54 and 461,685 ages 18-49
CNN’s AC360 [and two nights of special town halls] delivered 970,000 total viewers and 341,000 in ages 25-54 and 281,437 ages 18-49
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show delivered 2,549,000 total viewers and 537,000 in ages 25-54 and 381,998 ages 18-49
Friday night’s ratings – and the final, entire week’s averages – won’t be available until next Monday October 2.
Ultimately, this is only 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. 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 is 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 is coming in a poor third 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 left wing Democrat Party activists. 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 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 continuous anti-Trump propaganda. This lack of diverse viewpoints in the MSM is unprecedented in modern times and presents an obvious danger to anything approaching fair and objective reporting. Recent studies by respected mainstream academic 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 at Fox News, true to its “fair and balanced” credo, has been negative.
Peter Chowka is a widely published author and journalist. He writes most frequently these days for American Thinker and The Hagmann Report. His Web site is AltMedNews.net. Follow Peter on Twitter. Peter’s most recent video appearance on The Hagmann Report on September 19, 2017 can be watched here.