Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Quote of the Week (Honorable Mention)

"2.5 million Americans watch Fox News, which means that 297.5 million Americans don't."

-- Commenter "Underoath" at the Huffington Post, responding to the story about Shepard Smith apologizing on-air for what he called Fox News's lack of balance in covering the New Jersey governor's race

I post this comment because it brings up a point I've always wanted to mention here: Fox News's perceived power within the news media -- it's supposed absolute domination of both the medium and the message -- is really nothing more than a product of the media loving to talk about themselves. Yes, Fox has a firm grip on the cable audience -- particularly one relentlessly loyal facet of the audience, which clings to its every word and indulges its every whim -- and that makes for much hand-wringing among its competitors and detractors. But let's be honest: In the great scheme of things, how many people really watch cable news regularly? Sure, O'Reilly or Beck can pull in a couple of million viewers -- on a really good day -- but even now, with its authority waning, network news still nets up to 25-million viewers a night (with even the lowest-rated show pulling around 6-million people). And keep in mind that we're talking about national numbers -- as in a couple of million Fox viewers out of around 300-million people in the entire United States.

To put things in perspective, during the heyday of network dominance, a local news 11pm show in New York City could occasionally come close to that kind of number.

Yes, Fox News is powerful among the select demographic that watches it. Big picture, though? It's nowhere near the inescapable cultural force that it and the media echo chamber it inhabits would have you believe.


Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

Whew... thank you!

Elizabeth said...

I saw on the TV last night that the guy with the puppets had 6.5 million viewers for his opening show on Comedy Central.

Take that Fox.

Anonymous said...

Great point Chez. A quick google search indicates that 2.5 million people also tune into a reality show called Hoarders. There are countless examples that trivialize this point.

J. Dack said...

I suppose it's not a big deal but that comment is a direct quote taken off a blog post from Sci Fi Author John Scalzi's blog "Whatever."

'course I'm not sure it's the kind of thing that requires attribution but, you know... credit where credit is due.

Anonymous said...

Lest we forget, FOX turned a presidential election in the year 2000 and look what that did!

Douglas Holgate said...

This has actually been my thoughts for a long time but i've failed to articulate it as well as you just did. So thank you!

Another point further to this that I've always felt odd, is that when challenged or when attempting to drive home a talking point Fox news repeatedly states it's ratings as the exclamation point to end the "debate".
It's a weird slight of hand that smacks of self congratulatory network insider chest thumping wrapped up in a validation (self esteem) of their target demographic's world view.
But you know just because everyone loves junk food still doesn't mean it's good for you.