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."
"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.
| September 27, 2010; 5:47 PM ET
Categories: Latest stories, Television, Top story | Tags: CNN, Fox, MSNBC, Politico, cable news, media
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