The audience for cable news shrank in 2010, according to a Pew Research Center report, with viewership for the dominant Fox News declining by 11 percent, CNN plummeting by 37 percent, and MSNBC down 5 percent. "It's not that people are not watching cable," says Amy S. Mitchell, deputy director of the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. "They're just not turning to news as much." The trend was particularly deflating for Fox News, which had been on a ratings growth spurt since 2007. Is this the end of Fox's meteoric climb in the ratings, and, if so, why?
Yes, viewers are finally getting wise: The experts are chalking this up to competition from the internet, says Ellen at News Hounds, but that's only part of it. Online news has been around for years. The main reason for the cable news networks' troubles — particularly those of the unfair and unbalanced Fox News — is that what they offer is not really news. "It's more about infotainment or political theater."
"Fox and other cable news networks lose big chunks of audience"
Wait, Fox is still trampling CNN and MSNBC: Fox News isn't the one with the ratings problems, says Fox host Bill O'Reilly in the Boston Herald. Last month in primetime, we were the second highest rated channel on cable, behind only the USA network. "MSNBC came in 26th, CNN 29th. Not good for them." They could both could use "a program host who is filled with tiger blood." Charlie Sheen, MSNBC needs you.
"Low-rated shows need lowlife Charlie Sheen"
The world isn't supplying enough actual news: There just isn't enough real news out there to fill "three always-on news networks," says Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway. Devoting an entire cable channel to news "started out as a great idea by Ted Turner," but it "has turned into something far different." The conservative Fox, and its liberal mirror-image MSNBC, are just "blowhard stations" cranking out "propaganda." No wonder people are finding something better to do with their evenings.
"Cable news viewership down across the board"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Half the world's population lives in these 6 countries
- How a degree from Duke University dashed my dreams of buying a home
- This is why you can't trust the NSA. Ever.
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- Innocent before proven guilty? The bizarre bipartisan rush to clear Rick Perry
- The real-life events that inspired Game of Thrones' Red Wedding
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- What Keeping Up with the Kardashians can teach America about interracial marriage
- It's time for the police to rethink 'shoot-to-kill'
- Welcome to the age of ambivalent feminism
Subscribe to the Week