The Post reports on Meet the Press!


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.

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.
As Farhi continues, Schieffer is quoted saying that Sunday morning is “the smartest morning on TV.”

Good grief!

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.


  1. Dull and Pointless?

    Salon blasts bad boomer marketing to millennials
    Harris-Perry v. Chait Part 5.1
    Salon Interviews Aslan
    WaPO chokes on free lunch Part 22
    Tim Russert is Still Dead

    TDH may be lucky of the spellcasters show up for this one.

  2. Trolls are Angry Obama LoyalistsApril 22, 2014 at 5:17 PM

    Anonymous is mad that Obama ass-kisser David Gregory, the Obama ass-kissing Harris-Perry and the race-baiting sex-baiting Salon are being criticized by Somerby. Obama loyalists frequent this comment section often.

    1. If one was to generalize the intellectual level of a person who injects Obama into something from which he is absent, you would be bringing the average of an already low type down further than Gregory has driven MTP ratings.

  3. "It seems to say that roughly 9.6 million people watched Meet the Press—Meet the Press alone—on a weekly basis in 2005. "

    No, it doesn't. Big three. Collectively.

  4. It's ambiguous, but my guess is that it's saying:

    a. In 2014, 9.6 m people watched the Big Three
    b. In 2005, 9.6 m people watched Russert
    c. The Big Three have held steady and even gained viewers\

    What confuses me is that (c) doesn't follow from (a) and (b), In fact, it's contradicted by them.

    1. There is only an 8 percent difference between Face The Nation and MTP, which I think is close enough to say they each had "about 9.6 million people" if in fact the median entry "This Week" show had 9.6 million viewers. But the whole story is not clear enough.

    2. Who the f. cares?

    3. Not the Post obviously. The question is, shouldn't they? They are a newspaper after all.

    4. "Who the f. cares?"


  5. I stopped Tivo-ing MTP months ago. I've also lost interest in George's ABC show, sensing it's been taking on more and more attributes and values of his M-F GMA show. Perhaps I miss groaning at Geo. Will's skunk at the garden party act. At any rate, I don't think I'm missing anything. If FTN is the best of the three, it's because the competition's so lacking. Bob hosts the same tap dancers everybody else does.

    I used to suffer though these shows largely because I felt it a duty of citizenship to keep informed. and these shows were a big part of that. Years go, Maureen Dowd scolded W when he said he never watched the Sunday shows. I agreed with her contempt. Today I'm wondering whether W wasn't prescient.

    News needs to get out of the entertainment business. The shows need to revert to a mini-press-conference format, cut back to 30 minutes. No more star hosts, just a moderator and a panel of serious journalists with serious questions for some important person, preferably some higher up (it is a national show) from Congress of the administration. No more pundits or commentators. No more one-on-ones between a couple of egocentric careerists who address each other on a palsy-walsy first-name basis.

    I might make for boring television, but we've got a putative democracy to maintain, and keeping tabs on our rulers is a job just for all of us. We shouldn't allow ourselves to be lulled or assuaged by these burlesque shows the TV boys serve up for us.

    1. How did America ever survive as a democracy for the 160 years or so before Meet the Press went on the air?

    2. @ 5:28 AM

      Up until Dec. 7, 1941, I think it was the oceans. That and our technological superiority to the native inhabitants we slaughtered.

  6. At the Washington Post they do it again! Without Somerby these tell tale signs of our collapsing intellectual culture would be missed by many more.

    1. Being a statistics professional, I have long despaired that most media people have little understanding of statistics. The problem Bob points out is nothing new.

      No doubt I'm biased in favor of proper statistical analysis, but I think this failure of the media has harmed the nation. Many public policy issues are judged based on statistics. When media present improper analyses, the public and the government are more apt to choose policies that don't work.

  7. I would suggest that David Gregory could improve his ratings if he changed the format and setting to something he's more comfortable with, like a cocktail party in Georgetown.

    "I think there are a lot of critics who think that . . . . if we did not stand up and say this is bogus, and you’re a liar, and why are you doing this, that we didn’t do our job. I respectfully disagree. It’s not our role."
    David Gregory, NBC News Chief White House Correspondent (2001 - 2008)

  8. Michelle Malkin has a very low opinion of David Gregory. See