July 12, 2013 by David K. Sutton
MSNBC Ratings Slide Coincides With Off Election Year, White House Scandals
Over on Politicususa, Jason Easley writes, “MSNBC’s ratings have plunged this year, and the domino effect of bad decisions that have killed the network’s ratings began with the departure of Keith Olbermann.”
There’s no doubt Keith Olbermann is missed by a large part of the MSNBC audience, but keep in mind that his last broadcast on the liberal-leaning news network was 30 months ago. In the time since his departure, MSNBC saw its ratings soar, overtaking CNN and providing serious competition for Fox News heading into election day last November.
Could it be that an election year had something to do with MSNBC’s ratings success last year? I think there’s little question. With a Democratic president up for re-election against Mitt Romney, a Republican candidate who in many ways represents what’s wrong with American capitalism, it’s no wonder why Democrats and liberals were energized last year. Add in conservative attacks on women’s health and Republican efforts to suppress the minority vote and you had all the ratings fuel required for liberal MSNBC.
Fast-forward to spring 2013, many months removed from President Obama’s re-election, and we find ourselves in the midst of scandal after scandal. One might think this would be great ratings fodder, but not for liberals. Let’s face it, the conservative base is just more passionate. Yeah, they’re crazy, but they’re also extremely ardent. On the other hand, after a job well done re-electing Obama, and gaining some key liberal victories on same-sex marriage and marijuana, it would not be a shocker if liberals, usually a disparate bunch, took the year off. This is especially true during scandal season when most liberals believe the Right has nothing better to do with it’s time than attack the president they failed to defeat on election day.
“All In With Chris Hayes has been a complete ratings disaster,” says Easley. “Hayes has lost 28% of The Ed Show’s viewers, and he is down 10% from Ed Schultz’s ratings with younger viewers.” Ouch, that’s going to leave a mark! It is true that Hayes has underperformed at the prime 8pm time slot compared to Ed Shultz. And on this I agree with Easley that MSNBC might have made a bad decision when they moved Hayes from Up on Saturday mornings, which was the best news show on television. However, I like All In with Chris Hayes. It’s not Up, but it’s still a good show when it focuses on important issues and not the superfluous. I fear the latter will increasingly creep into the “All In” formula in desperation for better ratings. I hope I’m wrong.
But I do think MSNBC should hold steady with its current lineup and ride out the next year going into the mid-term elections next year. They need some stability and some time to see if liberals return after a nice long post-2012 election respite.