Thursday, May 30, 2013


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.


Philo Vaihinger said...

"a new Quinnipiac poll says Americans support the appointment of a special prosecutor by a 76%-17% margin."


What a success story!

The GOP campaign of utter bullshit to drum up a big scandal because the IRS did its job and focused on especially suspicious organizations to scrutinize for tax exemption status, I mean.

I can't wait until these vicious bastards have 70% of the country demanding the AG be investigated because he was investigating a Fox Newsie for solicitation - with a warrant.

Phil Perspective said...

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.

That's an awful lot of stupid Democratic leaning voters if those numbers are even close to accurate.

Phil Perspective said...

Digby says she's sensed a general drop-off in her readership since the election.

What has Kos' traffic been like? The drop-off has been happening ever since Obama was elected the first time. If Sitemeter is accurate at all, Atrios was averaging over 100,000 daily visitors before the '08 election. Firedoglake the same. Kos was averaging almost 1.2 million daily visitors. Now, Atrios barely averages 30,000 and Firedoglake is at about 40,000. I don't know Kos' totals because he removed the Sitemeter widget from his site. Those are two examples, used because they had the widgets on their sites. But there has been a steady drop-off all along. Also, MSNBC really isn't that liberal. One other thing. Did anyone really think Schultz's show was going to last? G.E. and Comcast are two of the most notoriously anti-labor companies going.

Erik Loomis said...

For whatever little bit it is worth, readership at LGM is up since the election.

Danp said...

Conflict sells. If you see the IRS, AP and Benghazi scandals as important issues, you probably pay attention more. It's hard for liberal sites to defend the Administration while selling the conflict. It also gets frustrating when the more liberal shows laugh everything off and focus on the silly rather than the profoundly anti-humanity aspects of politics. I love Maddow, Hayes and Kornacki, but I turn the channel when they start to chuckle. I don't find the issues funny.

Victor said...

From 9/11, through the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars and Occupations, through torture, rendition, Terry Schiavo, Katrina, The Surge, and the The New Great Rec/Depr-ession, then election of 2008, then Obamacare, and the election of 2010, and, finally, last year’s Presidential Election, it’s been one crisis or outrage after another.

After the most recent election, all people who aren’t Conservatives see that the country, going back to the days President Obama first took office, has been recovering, and the economy improving – albeit slowly, thanks to Republicans – and feel that they need a break.
It’s also the late spring after that important election, and we’re heading into the summer news season – which has typically, been slow for any real news. So, it’s no wonder people started getting away from the news, and, after a decade of real ones, the faux scandals.

And Liberals, in particular, feel particularly tired after over a decade of fighting “Baby Doc” Bush, and supporting the President and the Democratic Party – for all of his faults, and theirs.
And what would we see if we tuned in? More Conservative attacks, more faux scandals? Well, they’ll still be there after Labor Day. We’ll be there if there’s something important. Until then, ho-hum, yawn, and let’s enjoy the summer.

Conservatives, on the other hand, aren’t like the rest of the country – and certainly not, Liberals.
They’re like agitated sharks, always having to move forward, hungry for more, searching desperately for some trace, any trace, of blood in the water.

And that this is when FOX and the other conservatively oriented mediums, feel the need to drum up scandal after scandal, to keep their ratings up. And they do that by feeding the agitated stupid and ignorant suckers, marks, fools, bobo’s, half/dim/nit-wits, feckless feckn’ eedjits, morons, imbeciles, racists, misogynists, xenophobes, homophobes, and Jesus-freaks, their fix of non-stop anger, fear, and hate.

You know – just like the other three seasons.

And I’m to blame, too.
I don’t watch Rachel as much as I used to.
And Ed’s gone over to weekends.
Besides, I spend the day on my laptop reading and commenting on Liberal blogs (if I’m not doing chores, or cooking, or cleaning, or laundry), so now, to take a break from the news, after the 2012 election, in the evening, after my Mom and I watch Colbert and Stewart, I go to by bedroom, and read – rather than tune in to MSNBC, or go back to my favorite blogs, until bedtime.
I don’t watch much TV, except for those two great comics, and some sports, so I like to read fiction in the evening – I suppose I could get that same dose of fiction by watching FOX, but I don’t want to get so angry and frustrated, that I can’t sleep. So, fiction it is – recently, I love historical mystery novels. This way, amidst all of the death and mayhem and ‘detective-ing’, I may learn something.

Ten Bears said...

Ms Maddow incrementally loses credibility every time she cuts to a sixty second informercial on the joys of fracking. If you think The Times is "liberal'... you don't read it.

Rolling up on ten years of moderating bulletin boards and blogs I'll agree that it takes something motivational to hold the liberals' attention. Goebbells Model works as well as it does with the Reich-wingers because they are 1) Pavlovianly conditioned to it, 2) drunk on Kool-Aid, which 3) primary source of information is an equal part of their Kool-Aid whack Pavlovian conditioning. "Liberals", being smarter, healthier and better educated have wider interests, and it takes something important to motivate them. I'm not sure blog traffic accurately reflects that, but that many continue to inform themselves through Stewart/Corbett* indicates they are at least... ahhhh, interested. I think the biggest factor is fatigue. The Reich-wingers don't get worn out simply because both their attention span and worldview is so simple as to be binary, they're not easily distracted and just don't experience the information overload attendant to what is necessary to have even an inkling of what the hell is going on. Brass tacks ones and zeros (and I'll include my not liberal self here) after twelve years of the non-stop assault on any vestige of twenty-first century thinking has worn us the frack out.

Seriously, I'll bet that some time in the next ten minutes I'll see something that'll make me want to shoot my laptop.

*At least I can watch those guys without shooting the damned tv.

No fear.

Stellours said...

How many times to we have to repeat that it doesn't matter what Obama or the 'liberals' do, they are going to keep looking for blood. Period.
As a liberal, I'd like to see more success stories on our side. I get really tired of reading what every little dumb event that a republican does. It's like a five year old saying 'poopy' just to get attention. Then reading all the sites getting outraged over 'poopy' and how could they even say it.
As liberals, we need positive emotions, fresh air, good ideas to get us fired up.
Thanks, Mary

JustOneMinute said...

Re: "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. "

Whoever is appointed will be denounced as a partisan hack within ten minutes of taking the job so there is a certain time-management benefit to saving us all the ten minutes and appointing a hack outright.

FWIW, the WSJ editors *oppose* a special prosecutor for the obvious reason - the Washington game for years has been for everyone to stop talking in deference to "the investigation", which will take years and may not result in indictments or any final report. Appointing a special counsel will easily allow Obama to kick this past the 2014 election, and I Boldly Predict it won't hurt his re-election chances in 2016.

So that 76% might include some shrewd Democrats, as well as foolish Republicans. Who would've guessed there were so many of each?

parsimon said...

I'm not sure to what extent a falloff in MSNBC viewership has to do with apathy on the part of the left in general. Anecdotally, those friends of mine who are quite definitely left, but not political junkies, have left off watching MSNBC because, as they say, 'everyone's a clone of Rachel Maddow'.

I say, What about Chris Hayes, what about Ezra Klein's occasional guest hosting? Answer: they present exactly like Maddow, who's becoming shrill.

Take that for what it's worth.

Anonymous said...

MSNBC is also hurting themselves by acting like CNN all of sudden with poor programming decisions.

Chris Hayes invented a terrific show on the weekends and I guess they thought it was so good, they gave him a prime time gig, where he immediately took up that 'outrage of the day all day' model of the rest of the lineup. The originality disappeared.

They promoted The Cycle’s Steve Kernacki to the old Chris show, where he's getting up to speed and may do just fine. But in so doing, MSNBC took a big wind out of the sails at The Cycle.

Up, Cycle and Chris may bring a younger voice (and fresh guests), but that audience isn't watching the teevee. The newtork's actual viewing demographic is probably more like FOX.

Small fixes would be welcome. But . . .

Anonymous said...

Gee whiz, maybe an approach to punditry consisting of moaning all the time about impending betrayals and general hopelessness is not a failure-proof recipe for success after all!

donald said...

Ha ha ha ha.

Ten Bears said...

Havn't seen you in while JOM. Nice to see we still agree, if our Reason is different. I kept asking you bozos, over and over again, how you were going to feel when "the other guy" has all the power Cheney was grabbing. If Obama stands to re-election in '16 it's because of fools like you.

I don't need a tattoo to never forget.

No fear.

Vicki Hartley said...

I am a big fan of Rachel, Chris Hayes and even Lawrence O'Donnell. But like many liberals I am weary of our country reeling backwards with the weight of the relentless right wing sabotage. They are gleefully destroying our Democratic system, our social contract and our nation's sense of community. And to watch it happening live in front of my eyes every night is exhausting. Fox works because it is both paranoid and triumphant. We are in charge but not in power and there seems there is little hope.

M. Bouffant said...

I'd have to wonder if digby's readership is down at least in part because she didn't get a new commenting system after the crummy JS-kit/Echo system disappeared.

Ten Bears said...

The mobile comments worl, M, but I too had that thought.

I'm not sure but what "they" are as I surprised as I that the Goebbels Model works as well as it does. Fatigue on the opposition's part isn't readily apparent in the models we have to work with - ie. the Klu Klux Klan, Franco, Mussalini, Hitler, Japan, Israel - so until further observation we have to assume it a fortunate/unfortunate by-product of the longer running "American" Reich. I point this out while as we are agreeing we're all pretty worn out watching history repeat itself in painfully slow motion real-time there has been an increase in the subtle sublineal dog-whistles blown to the White Christian Nationalists. Particularly notable are the reinforcers to the Jew "Christian" Muslim Mormon Cult of Male Domination:

~~Anyone watch the Women's French Open yesterday? The skirts are considerably shorter than last year. So much shorter that at least one match I turned off out of disgust

~~New Brut® commercial: pert little cute chick in slinky black cocktail dress kisses the hot Aryan hunk on the cheek and steps out bathroom. Hot Aryan hunk slaps on some after-shave*, pert little cute chick steps back into bathroom very pregnant. The basset hound grows pregnant before our very eyes. Thr goldfish is pregnant. Hot Aryan hunk smiles a knowing manly smile.

I think Murdoch and the Chosen People are as surprised as I the Goebbells Model works as well it does, but that isn't slowin' them down any in capitalizing on it.

Caveat - I view these things from a distance, and though the Oregon Health Plan is great! (my premium went down twenty bucks this month) I still can't hear.

Note to white dogs: if you don't eat shit you don't smell like shit, and don't need to slap on stinky shit to cover it up.

No fear.

Never Ben Better said...

I'm with Victor and Ten Bears, among others -- worn out with so many years of relentless right-wing outrage-churning, checking in with a handful of liberal blogs (here, Booman, PM Carpenter; one or two others now and then) each day but otherwise avoiding political news and commentary, and only skimming the news programs enough to keep abreast of anything major happening; far happier to read historical fiction and sci fi/fantasy when I'm not working or otherwise keeping up with the real world. I'm over 60 and there's only so much time left for me; why waste it getting whipped up over things I can't stop? And I was never much of a fan of MSNBC to begin with.

Tommy said...

Liberals have lives. Manning the ramparts full time is only possible if you're neglectful, insane, or a shut-in. You know, a conservative.

Rob Lewis said...

What Victor said.

Maddow was, frankly, very entertaining when she had the Republican primary/freak show to cover. Before that there were the outrages of the Bush administration. Now we get the Boston bombing and the Oklahoma tornado, and there's only so much value a liberal commentator can add to these. The Obama non-scandals are just depressing, watching the media eagerly lap up the ginned-up Republican outrage.