Politics, Sex, Religion, and all those impolite Human Conversations...

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Sunday, March 20, 2005

Bloggermann Blasts Back

A while back I noted the Keith Olbermann was getting monkey mail about SpongeBob SquarePants from followers of the Focus on the Family in a post entitled What, No Sex?. Well they're at it again and it is still funny.

Here is first part of his response:
And the arguments of the latecomers divide almost entirely into two fundamental and hilarious assertions.

The first is that just because you dropped out in the 7th Grade and you’re complaining about something that didn’t happen the way you describe it, and which you didn’t see when it aired two months ago, your complaint should immediately force some sort of self-immolation of atonement on the part of the reader.

More on that in a moment - including another priceless selection of quotations from actual e-mailers.

But, first, the second assertion: that stories like mine are why “liberal network television news is dead and people only watch Fox News now.” I cannot count how many times something like this has been the cornerstone of the writer’s complaint - or the consequence predicted in their explicit threat. MSNBC itself is listed as one of the “liberal” transgressors, along with CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC.

Now it is amazing how pervasive this assumption has gotten. Print journalists analyzing tv or politics or both invariably write of the dying days of the networks, and the ascent of FNC - even though the statistics just don’t bear it out.

Three quarters of the country has cable, and another much smaller figure has satellite television, so any cable network necessarily has something of a ratings disadvantage compared to stations carried over-the-air - but nothing like that which is imagined, and nothing which could explain the viewer totals for Monday, March 11th, 2005, between 6:30 PM and 7:00 PM EST:

ABC World News Tonight: 9,630,000
CBS Evening News: 8,110,000
NBC Nightly News: 9,810,000
Fox News (Brit Hume): 1,013,000

Now, remember, despite the many nuances among them, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and MSNBC are all seen, from the far-right perspective, as left-wing hogwash, or worse. So let’s look at the ratings once again, and throw in the 394,000 who were watching CNN, the 169,000 watching MSNBC, and the 121,000 who were watching CNN Headline News.

Dying Network Newscasts: 28,234,000
Fox News (Brit Hume): 1,013,000

Looks like a 28:1 victory for the dying liberals over the ascendant conservatives.

But there are a couple of caveats here. The network newscast ratings were based on the average for the entire week of March 7th. That was Dan Rather’s final week, so the CBS number may be a little high, perhaps by as much as a million viewers. And, the comparison to Hume’s yawnathon on FNC isn’t entirely fair. The Jennings/Williams/Schieffer match-up versus Hume occurs only in the Eastern and Central Time Zones. In the Mountain zone, the network newscasts compete with the Fox Report, which usually does better than Hume’s newscast, and, on the West Coast, it’s Peter, Brian, and Bob, versus the second half of The Big Giant Head, Bill O’Reilly, who usually does twice as well as Hume, or better. Then again, the CNN, CNNHN, and MSNBC national audiences also grow the later it gets in the east. It would take more sophisticated data than they let somebody like me see to get the precise mix (I was told by my old masters at Fox that the East Coast alone constituted 50% of their audience), but the gist of it is, the 28:1 ratio is probably not precise.

It might be as low as 20:1.

Still, these folks emailing me - and smarter ones, too - manage to adhere to both their simplistic notions of “liberal television news” and their conviction that it’s losing.

To read the best parts you'll have to click through.