Pew notes that African-Americans have been far more focused on the George Zimmerman trial than whites:
... the story has consistently attracted far more interest among blacks than whites – and that remained the case in the trial's final days. Blacks are more than twice as likely as whites to say they tracked news about the Zimmerman trial very closely (56% vs. 20%).And yet MSNBC, which (at least in primetime) focused heavily on the trial and shared the widespread outrage at what Zimmerman did, had lousy ratings on the night of the verdict:
Moreover, fully 67% of blacks say they watched at least some live coverage of the Zimmerman trial, compared with 38% of whites. About one-in-five blacks (21%) say they watched "almost all" of the trial coverage; just 5% of whites reported watching almost all of it.
When the jury announced it had acquitted Zimmerman of all charges, MSNBC found itself in fourth place in the ratings, behind, Fox, CNN and HLN.Fox and talk radio have made right-wing politics fun for a white but economically diverse audience that might otherwise turn to non-political media content. Fox and the radio talkers have turned politics into entertainment, with heroes and villains and morality plays.
According to preliminary numbers, Fox News was #1 in total viewers with 3.862M. CNN came in second with 3.407M, followed by sister network HLN with 2.203M. MSNBC was fourth with only 1.298M, ... far behind their major competitors.... CNN came in first in the 25-54 demo with 1.716M viewers, while Fox was second with 1.113M. Again, HLN was third with 980K in the demo and MSNBC was last with 510K.
MSNBC, besides not being ideologically consistent from day to night the way Fox is, has done a lousy job of reaching viewers beyond its target audience of well-educated people who are mostly white. So when the verdict came down, black viewers didn't tune in. MSNBC hasn't tried very hard to reach them. It doesn't have much interest in appealing to the white working class, either -- yes, I know working-class whites skew right, but they're disgruntled, yet only the right and the bland center are trying to speak to them. I always regarded Ed Schultz as a faux-working class guy, someone who plays a working-class guy on TV, but at least he was trying, and now he's been banished from MSNBC prime time, in favor of Chris Hayes, whose ratings are worse.
Well, it's the long-standing problem with progressives: an awkward, rickety coalition that comes together harmoniously mostly on Election Day. And no, I don't have an easy solution.