|"I'm losing to Rachel Maddow? How can this be?"|
In a fitting coda to 2012, we’ve learned that the ratings for rock-ribbed conservative Sean Hannity cratered after Barack Obama won his second term, with viewers tuning out the Fox News Channel talk-show host in droves.
According to Nielsen numbers, Hannity lost around half of his audience in the weeks after the election, while his Fox News colleague Bill O’Reilly — who steadfastly refuses to identify himself politically as a conservative — retained around 70% of his audience.
So what happened to Hannity?
The going wisdom is that viewers who basked in his preelection anti-Obama rhetoric tuned him out when they were stunned to wake up on Nov. 7 and discover that the President had won a second term — a scenario that Hannity had all but promised could never happen.
Before the election, Hannity was riding high in the ratings and topped thought leaders on the right, like Dick Morris, Ann Coulter, Peggy Noonan and talk radio bulldog Mark Levin, who predicted Obama would lose in a landslide.
Those voices — and many others like them — all but drove the political coverage on Fox News, talk radio and conservative blogs.
But as Conor Friedersdorf wrote in The Atlantic just after the election, “Outside the conservative media, the narrative was completely different.”
And when the dust settled, it turns out Hannity’s viewers opted to vote again — with their remotes.
Adding insult to injury, two of Hannity’s rivals on MSNBC, Ed Schultz and Rachel Maddow, held onto huge chunks of their audiences, while at CNN, far less politically polarizing host Anderson Cooper lost almost none of his viewers postelection.
It got even worse for Hannity in the “money demo” of viewers 25-54, who are prized by advertisers.
With this group, Hannity held onto less than half his preelection audience. O’Reilly, on the other hand, kept almost 70%.
And through the early part of December, Maddow actually beat Hannity in the coveted group — a shocking turn, because until the election, Hannity was unassailable by any of his rivals, at least in terms of ratings.
This is the kind of news that I find especially heartwarming. And you know the thing is that I doubt Hannity will be able to attract new viewers due to the Fox News demographic dying out and the newer generation's disgust with the vitriol and bullshit that flows from Fox News.
I see this as only the beginning of the end for many of Fox's most aggressive purveyors of propaganda, and have to imagine that about now the powers that be are thinking of ways to revamp the network in order to survive in the coming years.
I also believe that this all but dooms any hope Sarah Palin might have had of having her contract renewed. With the very symbol of Right Wing conspiracy taking such a hit in the ratings I do not see what business sense there is in bringing Palin, who is the very antithesis of honesty and journalistic integrity, back onto the airwaves in any other capacity except comic relief.