Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center has a new way of downplaying the impeachment hearings against President Trump: highlight their allegedly low ratings.
In a Nov. 14 post, Kristine Marsh touted how an appearance by Donald Trump on ABC's "The View" got better ratings than ABC's coverage of the impeachment hearings:
If ratings are any indicator of Americans’ interest in impeachment, Democrats are in big trouble. Viewership for yesterday’s impeachment hearings are out, and reveal that between the three major broadcast networks, ABC led ratings, with just 2 million total viewers (Fox News Channel was the most viewed network, with 2.9 million watching.)
But just 6 days before on came to political talk show, The View.
Deadline reported his interview on November 7th was the highest rated for the show in over six months:
While taking shots at Trump, even the liberal entertainment source had to admit, “The showdown went viral, and now it seems even old-school viewers were watching en masse.”
Marsh then sneered: "To get some perspective, the ratings ABC got Wednesday, were lower than the lowest rated daytime soap opera on television, Days of Our Lives, averaged on NBC. Those numbers were so concerning for the network they fired the entire cast and put the show on an indefinite hiatus this past week." Actually, the article to which Marsh linked stated that production of the show is so far ahead of schedule that the normal holiday hiatus came earlier this year; the soap hasn't been canceled and episodes are still airing.
Rich Noyes then picked up the talking point, huffing on Nov. 18 that the impeachment hearings must suck because (we're not making this up) O.J. Simpson's trial got much higher ratings:
Americans aren’t exactly obsessed with the Democrats’ impeachment hearings, it seems. Friday’s second day of live, wall-to-wall coverage drew an average of 12.7 million viewers on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC and the Fox News Channel combined.
That’s down from a relatively tepid 13.1 million for Day 1 of testimony on Wednesday.
In comparison, an actual news event that definitely captured Americans’ imagination — the verdict in the O.J. Simpson trial — drew 150 million viewers (nearly twelve times as many) back in 1995.
That suggests 95 percent (about 241.3 million) were doing something else on Friday besides watching these hearings.
And I’ll bet most of them were having more fun.
Noyes isn't going to tell you that the hearings still got more viewers than pretty much every prime-time network TV show that isn't a football game.
Noyes followed two days later with another ratings update:
The TV ratings took another dive on Tuesday morning for Day 3 of the Democrats’ impeachment hearings, with only 11.4 million tuning in to ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC and the Fox News Channel for the testimony of Lt. Col. Alex Vindman and an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, Jennifer Williams.
But according to early Nielsen Media Research, the combined audience for those networks grew to 13 million for the afternoon/early evening session featuring the first two witnesses sought by the Republican minority, former U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker and ex-NSC aide Tim Morrison.
Last Wednesday, 13.1 million watched the first day of testimony, while 12.7 million tuned in for Day 2 on Friday.
Of course, with an estimated 254 million adults living in the United States, nearly everyone was doing something else on Tuesday besides watching these hearings.
Noyes didn't mention that many of those adults have jobs they must be at during the day that prevent them from watching daytime hearings. It's also likely millions more Americans watched the hearings online, which wouldn't have been measured in the TV ratings Noyes and Marsh focused on.
Tim Graham and Brent Bozell piled on as well with, yes, another ancient O.J. ratings comparison:
Rep. Adam Schiff's Democratic impeachment hearings are under way — airing live all over the dial — and the liberals are quite upset that America couldn't care less.
NBC News spurred rage on Twitter for daring to admit online that the first two witnesses "lacked the pizzazz necessary to capture public attention."
In June 1994, 95 million people were transfixed by a low-speed police chase of O.J. Simpson in his white Ford Bronco through the streets and freeways of Los Angeles. "An estimated 150 million viewers watched Simpson's 1995 acquittal after standing trial for the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman," reports the Los Angeles Times. A full 92% of Americans ignored this impeachment spectacle.
When CNN's Brian Stelter dared to make the point that in the internet age, young people watch online while old people watch TV, Graham and Bozell decided to mock instead of offering a cogent response:
All this left CNN's Brian Stelter sputtering that the dismal ratings are a "woefully incomplete" picture of the viewership. The vast majority of those who watched the impeachment hearings on television were over the age of 55. But Stelter tried to argue that younger viewers "were more likely to stream it and/or soak up the info like sponges." Or maybe the millennials were too busy playing "Pokemon" or texting in the middle of busy streets while motorists debated the ethics of running them over.
The two concluded by writing that "the liberals were actually interested in democracy, they would let the elected president finish his term, and try to defeat him at the polls, instead of trying to ruin him before there's any chance for reelection." Funny, we don't remember the folks at the MRC being concerned about whether President Clinton would finish his term as they agitated from his impeachment.
P.S. None of these MRC writers explained why these purportedly low ratings for the impeachment hearings means, as they are suggesting, that the evidence being presented is somehow illegitimate. Would they support Trump's impeachment if the ratings were higher?