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For midterms, Fox on top

On television, having an impact is the name of the game.

By that measure, cable news is a winner, and Fox News is the big winner.

But what if having means that plenty of people don't like you?

Actually, that works just fine. Controversy sells. Some people tune in just to yell at the screen. For a cable host, driving the other side crazy is far preferable to the alternative, which is nobody is talking about you--or, still worse, most folks haven't heard of you.


A Politico/George Washington University poll shows how the cable news channels, once an afterthought to the big broadcast boys, are really where the action is now, despite relatively modest ratings.

The headline: "81 percent of those polled get their news about the midterm elections from cable channels, like Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, or their websites, compared with 71 percent from national network news channels, such as ABC, NBC or CBS, and their websites."

And in that world, "Fox was the clear winner, with 42 percent of respondents saying it is their main source, compared with 30 percent who cited CNN and 12 percent who rely on MSNBC."

You'd expect Fox, which dominates the ratings, to be out front. I have no idea why MSNBC, which has been beating CNN in prime time, scored so low.

With some Fox hosts and contributors out-and-out Republicans and GOP boosters--Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Sean Hannity and (except when Christine O'Donnell is involved) Karl Rove, this clearly helps the out party in its drive to recapture Congress.

"Fox's opinionated personalities were also rated as having the greatest positive impact on the political debate in the country. Bill O'Reilly was rated as having, by far, the greatest positive impact, with 49 percent of respondents rating him positively, and 32 percent negatively.

"Glenn Beck was the second most-positively rated personality, with 38 percent of respondents saying he had a positive impact, and 32 percent saying he had a negative impact."

So they're divisive. We kinda knew that. But they have loyal audiences.

"Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh was the third-most-positively ranked, with 36 percent saying he has a positive impact on the discourse, but his negatives far outweighed his positives, with 52 percent saying he has a negative impact."

Uh, ditto.

"MSNBC's personalities were largely ranked as unknown by respondents: 70 percent said they had never heard of Ed Schultz, 55 percent said they had never heard of Rachel Maddow and 42 percent said they had never heard of Keith Olbermann."

Now that's got to hurt. Although Maddow has been on the air for just two years, and Schultz about a year.

"Although Comedy Central's Jon Stewart was ranked as having more of a positive than negative influence on the debate -- 34 percent said positive compared with 22 percent for negative -- 34 percent of respondents said they had never heard of him."

What?? I am shocked. The guy hosted the Oscars!

Turns out the biggest group in the survey, 21 percent, are 55 to 64 years old. Stewart skews young. Mystery solved.



By Howard Kurtz  | September 27, 2010; 5:47 PM ET
Categories:  Latest stories, Television, Top story  | Tags:  CNN, Fox, MSNBC, Politico, cable news, media  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Dick Cavett on Stewart, Colbert
Next: Woodward on the war president

Comments

"Why MSNBC rated so low"? Because nobody watches them for anything true. Frankly, the country is sick of being lied to by virtually ALL media and are making choices that indicate where the closest thing to REAL news facts are. That would not be among the rants of Ed Shultz, Chris Matthews and Keith Olberman.

Posted by: chrisxx | September 27, 2010 9:04 PM | Report abuse

"70 percent said they had never heard of Ed Schultz, 55 percent said they had never heard of Rachel Maddow and 42 percent said they had never heard of Keith Olbermann."

+++

That's hilarious.

Posted by: Hawaiian_Gecko | September 27, 2010 9:39 PM | Report abuse

The American people are dismantling the elite media. Propaganda is always recognizable...the MSM is being held responsible for the media's their unbalanced coverage of the BHO election and administration. Regular Americans will not forget this...
BTW, Howie, were you gritting your teeth as you wrote this?

Posted by: d1carter | September 28, 2010 12:06 AM | Report abuse

I gave CNN, and MSNBC, CBS, and others a chance,but while I was trying to watch them I had to keep going back to Fox to get the whole story. That is why they are at the bottom, because they DO NOT COVER ALL THE FACTS, They are clearly controled by the government, they are so bios, and one sided it makes them no trust worthy. Though Fox is more to the right, they still give all sides fair room to speak, and they cover, and back up what they report so very well, which makes them highly trust worthy.

Posted by: mblanchette65 | September 28, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

I gave CNN, and MSNBC, CBS, and others a chance,but while I was trying to watch them I had to keep going back to Fox to get the whole story. That is why they are at the bottom, because they DO NOT COVER ALL THE FACTS, They are clearly controlled by the government, they are so bios, and one sided it makes them not trust worthy. Though Fox is more to the right, they still give all sides fair room to speak, and they cover, and back up what they report so very well, which makes them highly trust worthy.

Posted by: mblanchette65 | September 28, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

"Turns out the biggest group in the survey, 21 percent, are 55 to 64 years old." This is the key to the whole survey. Middle-aged to older whites are the Fox News demographic. They are the most likely to watch cable news, and are by and large conservatives. These folks have found a home where they have their already established world-view (biases and prejudices) validated, and pick up talking points to parrot to their friends and on internet message boards like WaPo.

Posted by: bienefes | September 28, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

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