The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

10 May 2006

Los Angeles Times, Bill O'Reilly, Cable Talk Ratings


Rabid Anti-O'Reilly Fanatics Find Fellow-Travellers

While it's one thing to disagree with Bill O'Reilly's stands on issues, it's quite another to misrepresent his viewership figures.

Pumping up the rhetoric to previously- unseen levels, the left's sleazy anti-FOX News Channel smear campaign (which we previously touched upon here) is busy spreading across the Internet.

Earlier this week, the misinformation effort gained the Los Angeles Times as a fellow-traveller:

A ratings downer for Fox News
By Scott Collins, Times Staff Writer

Some recent ratings news no doubt gladdened the hearts of Fox News Channel haters.

First, Nielsen Media Research reported that Fox News' overall prime-time lineup dropped 17% last month compared with a year ago (MSNBC grew 16% during the same period, while CNN plummeted by 38%).

Late last week, a reliable television industry website,, reported that in April, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly had his worst month in nearly five years among viewers age 25 to 54, the most coveted audience in TV news.

Although the network still churns out ratings light-years ahead of competitors' and O'Reilly remains cable news' No. 1 host, Fox News' explosive growth appears to be, like the president's 90% approval rating in the days following Sept. 11, a relic from the first Bush term.

That's the elephant in the room, of course — the broadly assumed, and occasionally documented, affinity between Fox News and the current administration (Vice President Dick Cheney's office prepared a hotel checklist, recently posted on, that ordered "all televisions tuned to Fox News" during Cheney visits). Could it be mere coincidence that O'Reilly, populist scourge of both Clintons and countless left-wing causes, is seeing his still-formidable nightly audience of 2.1 million or so start to shrink in tandem with the Bush/GOP's rapidly fading grip on the electorate?

O'Reilly's thoroughly delighted rivals think not.

"When the stock market was through the roof in the '90s, people used to sit around and watch CNBC and slap high fives and say, 'I made another hundred bucks today!' " said MSNBC host and O'Reilly foe Keith Olbermann, adding that CNBC's ratings quickly went south when the tech bubble burst.

"I think the same psychology applies to Fox. They'll always have their hard-core audience that wants to hear, 'Everything's great! [Bush is] doing a great job.' " But less-partisan viewers are drifting away, Olbermann argued.

Does obsessed O'Reilly- hater Olbermann have one shred of evidence to back up his crazy theory? How much of The O'Reilly Factor is really spent defending the Bush Administration?

Actually, very little.

And far from serving as an objective source, TVNewser is a partisan liberal operation that frequently attacks the FOX News Channel while defending MSNBC and CNN.

In fact, the truth is that Bill has long had an independent streak, one critics readily ignore. From Tuesday's Boston Herald, here's evidence that should give Olbermann's few fans pause:

Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry is getting the thumbs up for a second presidential run from an unlikely corner - Fox TV titan Bill O’Reilly.

“If I were him, I’d do it. What’s he got to lose? He’s got huge name recognition. He almost won last time,” said the ex-Boston newsguy turned cable news heavyweight.

“I think he’s got to come out a little bit more specific,” said O’Reilly, who plans to have Kerry as a guest on an upcoming segment of “The O’Reilly Factor.”

“If he is more specific and does engage the folks, he’s got a good shot. He’s got a lot of experience. He’s got respect abroad. I think he’s a smart guy. We need some strong leadership in this country.”

Does that sound like a partisan Republican talking?

As for the misleading LA Times story, Patterico nails it here:

So, let me get this straight. CNN did worst, dropping 38%; Fox dropped 17%; and MSNBC gained 16%. Fox is just about in the middle.

So naturally, the whole focus of the story is how terrible Fox is doing! And in the above passage, CNN’s precipitous plunge — more than double that of Fox — is relegated to a mere parenthetical. (Oh, yeah . . . that.)

Obviously, the real story here is that Fox’s ratings went down. There’s no bias there. That’s just solid, down-the-middle news judgment. Because, you see, Fox News’s woes “gladdened the hearts of Fox News Channel haters.” And when we say “Fox News Channel haters,” we mean, of course, the editors of the Los Angeles Times. And since they’re the ones who decide what’s “news,” then Fox’s decline is the story — not CNN’s plunge.

Priceless. I’m filing this one away. When people ask me for an example of blatant partisanship at the L.A. Times, I couldn’t do much better than simply reading the beginning of this story out loud, giving special emphasis to the opening and closing of the parenthetical phrase.

As the left continues to push this dirty election-year campaign, expect updates here at the Radio Equalizer.

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How I Learned To Love Keith Olbermann: Pete at IHillary for the Radio Equalizer, Kerry: AP


  • Earlier this week, the misinformation effort gained the Los Angeles Times as a fellow-traveller

    Misinformation? What did the LA Times say that wasn't true?

    By Blogger Mr. Kite, at 10 May, 2006 03:15  

  • He meant this article, which from word one WREAKS of liberal bias--then again it's the LA Times--or the paper of the SoCal branch of Communist Party USA (Democrats),1,5034990.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

    Next time, you might actually want to READ the article?

    By Blogger The Real Bob Anthony, at 10 May, 2006 07:42  

  • Yes, I know he meant that article. What about it isn't true?

    By Blogger Mr. Kite, at 10 May, 2006 10:32  

  • it shouldn't be surprising that Fox's ratings went down, or any of the other news stations for that matter.

    i think people are just getting sick of everything with politics right now. its been on overkill for the past 6 years, and people are tired of it.

    and i can't really say that there is a correlation between Fox's low ratings and Bush's low poll numbers, because that still wouldn't explain the drop in CNN viewers. i think its just fatigue.

    By Blogger liberal outlaw, at 10 May, 2006 11:16  

  • Actually, Olbermann used the nielson rating as his data. He pointed out Bill's statment "his (O'Reilly's) ratings at the 4:00 am repeat were higher than Olbermann's rating's at 8:00 pm". Keith proved this is an outright lie.

    The only reason you defend O'Reilly is because he's the only one that will put you on TV. Have you ever been on there without Malkin? You seem to ride her coattails a lot.

    By Blogger waaah123, at 10 May, 2006 11:59  

  • "He{Olbermann} pointed out Bill's statment "his (O'Reilly's) ratings at the 4:00 am repeat were higher than Olbermann's rating's at 8:00 pm". Keith proved this is an outright lie."

    Just out of curiousity what are O'Reilly's 4 a.m. figures and what are Olbermann's 8 p.m. figures?

    I figure that you already have them, and it's easier to ask you than research them myself.


    By Blogger Lokki, at 10 May, 2006 12:20  

  • your so snarky, lokki, so cute -

    Here's the quote and link to the transcript from last night. Unfortunately, I don't have a subscription to nielson numbers.

    Of course I am relying on who is more honest here. I go with Olbermann anyday over O'Reilly. I would even bet my favorite loofah..

    “And here‘s more truth. Last Thursday evening.the ‘Factor‘s‘ third re-run at 4:00 in the morning actually beat MSNBC‘s 8:00 p.m. original.”

    Well here, when Bill O. says “here‘s more truth,” what he means is he‘s lying. Last Thursday our 8:00 p.m. original had 85,000 more viewers. And by the way, thanks for calling us original.

    By Blogger waaah123, at 10 May, 2006 13:47  

  • FOX will go down because thay would not have Michael Savage on

    By Blogger joe, at 10 May, 2006 14:38  

  • Why is Olbermann harping on O'Reilly?

    Is it really worth bragging that your 8pm airing got only 85,000 viewers more than someone else's 4am re-run? Geesh.

    Thursday, May 4, 2006: 8pm, total viewers:
    O'REILLY: 2,278,000 ...
    Zahn: 696,000
    Grace: 471,000
    Olbermann: 376,000

    That's over 6-to-1! Olbermann vs. O'Reilly numbers

    By Blogger frankenlies, at 10 May, 2006 18:52  

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