Those Fox Ratings Don't Necessarily Mean The Country is Moving To The Right

David Kiley

I confess to a guilty pleasure. Though I know TV and radio blatherers like Sean Hannity and just about everybody on Air America, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly are full of (my Mother reads this) beans, I find myself listening to the shows, especially the righty shows, on Sirius radio on my way home from work. This might explain the following bad news for CNN. The cable network’s ratings dipped 16 percent overall and 21 percent in prime time during February, according to Nielsen Media Research, as some of the cable news channel's biggest stars lost viewers. Fox News was the only one among the four cable news networks to post ratings gains during the month.

The right wingnuts think that their ratings are proof that the country is moving to the right on cultural issues. I’m not so sure. My take is this: The Prime Time Shows on Fox are killing their counterparts on CNN in prime time because they are more entertaining to listen to or watch, not because more people agree with the loony positions of the hosts.

I agree with almost nothing uttered by Hannity, who is the most intellectually lazy creature I have observed since Junior High summer school (I had a summer job. I wasn’t taking a class.) Hannity and the others so outrageous, cockeyed and idiotic in their "logic" and on-air control tactics (I'm not criticizing their positions, only how they arrive at them) that it's more fun to listen to them than to Paula Zahn playing it straight.

I know a lot of people who are left of center who watch and liosten to these shows. But it's not because they are in synch with their politics. The dirty secret is that a lot of liberals and moderates watch and listen to these right-wing nutballs just to get pissed off and worked up. And to laugh.

The only one I can think of to take a bite out of O'Reilly's franchise from 8Pm to 9PM for CNN is Al Franken. And maybe not even him. O'Reilly playing it straight is often funnier than Franken going for a joke.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.