The New York Times does it again: Journalistically, we'd say that 2015 has been The Year of the Liberal.
We don't exactly mean that as a compliment. At any rate, we plan to explore this theme next week in an award-winning set of reports.
Today, a news report in the New York Times should be of interest to liberals. Apparently using data from Nielsen, the report attempts to quantify "cable news" viewership during this past year.
The famous newspaper bungles horribly as it attempts to do this. First, though, consider a basic framework which emerges from our liberal condescension and cluelessness, the potent forces which made this past year the journalistic Year of the Liberal.
If you frequent liberal sites and comment threads, you've read it more than once. We liberals love to chuckle and roll our eyes concerning the elderly nature of the Fox News audience.
We especially like to snark about the way that audience is literally dying out. We read a piece with that hook not long ago, we would guess at the new Salon, though the topic is hard to search for.
Whatever! In this morning's report, John Koblin attempts to review cable news viewership for the past year.
Koblin starts with some basic numbers for the three cable news nets. This being the New York Times, he uses the data to create a hopelessly bungled comparison:
KOBLIN (12/31/15): For the 14th consecutive year, Fox News led in total viewers and in the 25-to-54-year-old demographic crucial to advertisers. The network's average of 1.8 million viewers in prime time placed it second among all cable channels, the highest finish for a cable news channel ever. (ESPN came in first.)Simply put, the New York Times can't seem to help itself. Consider what Koblin and/or his editor have done:
CNN had strong growth, with a total-day average of 490,000 viewers, representing its highest viewership in six years and a 23 percent bump over last year. In the crucial 25-to-54 demographic it was up 18 percent, and the network also had gains of better than 30 percent in prime time in both total viewers and in the 25-to-54 segment.
MSNBC had a 2 percent increase in average viewers, to a total-day average of 352,000, but it struggled elsewhere. Coming off a rough performance in 2014, the channel lost an additional 19 percent of its viewers in the 25-to-54 demographic in prime time and 18 percent in that demographic in total-day viewers this year.
In that passage, Koblin presents the average number of viewers for Fox News in prime time. He then presents the averages for CNN and MSNBC across the total day.
As any sentient being would know, this creates an utterly useless apparent comparison. We keep thinking we must have read this passage wrong. But sure enough, that's what the Times did.
Is any other major newspaper really this incompetent? We aren't able to answer that question. But the New York Times rarely fails to fail, often in the most obvious possible manner.
It gets worse! In his on-line report, Koblin offers one link during that passage. Pitifully, when we clicked the link, it took us back to Koblin's own report. There is no link, at any point, to the actual source of his data.
Adding to the clownishness, Koblin's on-line report includes a correction. Pitifully, here's what it says:
Correction: December 30, 2015Initially, Koblin used the wrong number in forming his utterly bogus apparent comparison. But so it tends to go at our nation's newspaper of record.
An earlier version of this article misstated the average number of prime-time viewers for Fox News. It had an average of 1.8 million viewers in prime time, not 1.1 million.
Again, Koblin provides no link to his source of data, though you could probably find it. (We'll try to do so later today.) That said, he offers this about MSNBC as he stumbles ahead:
KOBLIN (continuing directly): MSNBC had a 2 percent increase in average viewers, to a total-day average of 352,000, but it struggled elsewhere. Coming off a rough performance in 2014, the channel lost an additional 19 percent of its viewers in the 25-to-54 demographic in prime time and 18 percent in that demographic in total-day viewers this year.Did the shift away from 24-hour propaganda help MSNBC's ratings? Koblin doesn't explicitly say so; we ourselves have no idea. Nor do we know of any good reason to assume that his figures are accurate!
But toward the end of the year, MSNBC began to shift to a strategy that had been successful for CNN and Fox News throughout the year, with a greater emphasis on breaking news. Over the summer, MSNBC scrapped its left-leaning afternoon lineup and made Brian Williams a breaking-news anchor, after his half-year suspension from NBC News.
That said, we will assume that the shift toward "breaking news" may help explain the giant dumbnification of The Rachel Maddow Show, a dumbnification which became most obvious, and became quite astounding, starting in early May. We'll review this dumbnification in next week's award-winning set of reports
Let's get back to the basics:
We'll guess that Fox News still laps the field in terms of overall viewers. But what about the claim we liberals often advance—the claim that the Fox News audience is literally dying out?
Koblin touched on that topic late in his piece. We'll highlight the relevant numbers, which are similar to numbers for these three cable nets in past years:
KOBLIN: The cable news channels, however, still tend to skew older: The median age for CNN viewers this year was 61, while it was 63 for MSNBC and 67 for Fox News.According to Koblin, Fox's elderly, creaking audience is dying out at a median age of 67. At a median age of 63, MSNBC's youthful gang "has only just begun."
''What they all would like to have is a somewhat younger audience,'' Mr. Heyward said. ''That remains a difficult challenge. But certainly this extraordinary confluence of news events is enormously beneficial.''
Fox News had an average of 207,000 total-day viewers in the 25-to-54-year-old demographic, compared to CNN's 149,000 and MSNBC's 89,000.
Recently, for the ten millionth time, we encountered a jibe about the way the Fox News crowd is dying out. For that reason, we were struck by these data, which may even be accurate, since they're similar to past data from the cable news nets.
Journalistically, we'd have to say that 2015 has been The Year of the Liberal (and often, The Year of Liberal Indifference Concerning the Inexcusably Broken and Broken-Souled New York Times). More specifically, it has been the year when our tribe's ongoing project of dumbnification became most clear and complete.
On balance, we have a hard time believing that this project serves progressive interests. That said, it never occurs to us in our tribe that we liberals might play some role in our nation's failure to attain more progressive social arrangements—in our failure to attain universal health care, to cite one glaring example.
It can't be Us—it has to be Them! Tribal groups have always reasoned this way, all around the world.
All next week, we'll review the year in journalism as conducted by Us. At any rate, on the brighter side, They're dying out Over There!
We read it, for the ten millionth time, in just the past couple of weeks. Today, in the pitiful New York Times, we seemed to read that it ain't exactly necessarily so.
Still coming: What are Trump voters like?
For extra credit only: What are Trump voters like? For some pleasing work on this subject, we'll recommend today's pseudo-analysis piece in the Times.
The New York Times rarely fails to fail. That piece strikes us as quite weak.