Statistics can be hard: David Gregory’s Meet the Press has become unwatchably dull and cosmically pointless.
Yesterday, the Washington Post’s Paul Farhi supplied the ratings numbers for the current year. Incredibly, Meet the Press is now running dead last among the three major Sunday programs:
FARHI (4/21/14): [F]airly or not, Gregory's "Meet the Press" still gets measured against the lofty peaks scaled by Tim Russert, his predecessor. Russert, the folksy inquisitor, ruled the ratings for more than a decade until his death in June 2008. He often attracted an audience 40 percent larger than his rivals, an unheard-of margin in television.As Farhi continues, Schieffer is quoted saying that Sunday morning is “the smartest morning on TV.”
But now—to paraphrase Russert's famous sign-off—if it's Sunday, it's not necessarily "Meet the Press" that Americans are watching.
These days, the leader is "Face the Nation," hosted by Bob Schieffer, the grandfatherly 77-year-old newsman. Schieffer not only attracts the largest overall audience (a weekly average of 3.35 million during the first three months of 2014, 5 percent more than "This Week," 8 percent more than "MTP" and 61 percent more than "Fox News Sunday") but the largest audience among the coveted 25-to-54 set, too.
Granted, the competition from the other six mornings is light to non-existent. But if you’ve watched the Sunday shows in recent years, you’ll know that Schieffer’s self-flattering statement is straight outta Fantasyland.
Meet the Press has fallen fast. Eventually, as if by fiat, the Post threw in the required statistical groaner:
FARHI: The good news for all three shows is that they remain among the most durable on TV, if perhaps less influential than they once were. Even as everything else on TV has lost viewers over time, the Big Three have held steady and even gained viewers. Collectively, about 9.6 million people watched them each week during the first three months of this year, about the same number that watched Russert in 2005. This doesn't count the audience for innumerable Sunday-morning competitors, from Fox News Sunday (hosted by former "Meet the Press" moderator Chris Wallace) to "Al Punto" on Univision.We don’t understand that highlighted passage. It seems to say that roughly 9.6 million people watched Meet the Press—Meet the Press alone—on a weekly basis in 2005.
Presumably, that isn’t what Farhi meant, given his other claim about the Big Three gaining viewers over time. But that’s what the passage says.
Meet the Press is hard to watch. The Post is no picnic either.