There's a lot of talk about the fact that MSNBC's ratings have been way down for the past couple of months. A number of factors seem to be responsible for this: people are turning instead to CNN and HLN for real news (the Boston bombings) and fake news (the Jodi Arias trial); Chris Hayes's show isn't doing as well as Ed Schultz's show used to, and that's giving Rachel Maddow a weaker lead-in; and Fox's core audience is inspired to watch because of scandal stories involving the Obama administration, while MSNBC's core audience is disillusioned for the same reason.
Digby says she's sensed a general drop-off in her readership since the election. She quotes Salon's Alex Pareene:
Perhaps there just isn't a huge, permanent, year-round liberal audience for political news and discussion.... Young liberals tune in during election years. The rest of the time they keep up with the news online (or on "The Daily Show") and spend their evenings watching actual TV. Like, "Game of Thrones" and stuff.I think it's a mix of Obama disillusionment and what Pareene is describing -- right-wingers are revved up nearly all the time, but we aren't. (Although it was only a couple of months ago that we were reading about big ratings declines at Fox News, which have since been reversed.)
You know what might turn this around? The appointment of a special prosecutor for the IRS scandal. You've got to figure that's inevitable -- a new Quinnipiac poll says Americans support the appointment of a special prosecutor by a 76%-17% margin.
This is where overreach will happen. When the White House itself is turning to non-ideologue Republicans as appointees (as I noted in my last post), what sort of prosecutor do you think we're going to get for this? It's got to be someone well to the right of, say, James Comey. Especially when you've got Bill Keller in The New York Times proposing the appointment of Kenneth Starr.
An IRS special prosecutor doesn't have to be a witch-hunter, but I think we're going to get a special prosecutor who is a witch-hunter. Republicans will howl at the mere mention of anyone who isn't a partisan hack, and so a partisan hack is what we'll get.
And that's going to be the big story of the foreseeable future. It'll be bad for Obama and America, but it'll be good for MSNBC.