The TV ratings are out and once again Fox News Channel has trounced its competition. Since by all accounts FNC is the preferred network of political conservatives, why are U.S. elections so close?
For the 71st straight quarter, Fox News was the most-watched cable news network on cable TV. That's almost 18 years – and in the third quarter of 2019, Fox had almost twice as many viewers as number-two MSNBC and two and a half times as many as third-place CNN.
Don Irvine of Accuracy in Media explains that cable news viewers tend not to move around a lot.
"That kind of shows that cable news viewers, news junkies … love whatever they love," he begins. "They love Fox or they love MSNBC or they love CNN news – and they're pretty dyed-in-the-wool in terms of their ideology."
And he notes Fox has been very resilient. "The amazing thing about Fox is their durability despite all the changes," Irvine tells OneNewsNow. "No Glenn Beck anymore, no Megyn Kelly, no Bill O'Reilly. They feed other people in there that do as well if not better in some cases."
But conservative dominance on TV hasn't necessarily translated to conservative victories at the ballot box. By way of illustration, Irvine points out that Fox's 2.4 million primetime viewers – and even all roughly 5 million cable news viewers – pale in comparison to the 250 million Americans who voted in the last presidential election.
Irvine argues that the vast majority of voters don't watch cable news – and in fact, are really only interested in politics for about ten minutes every four years. In other words, as much time as it takes them to vote.
"For some voters it may be the last thing they see on their phone before they go into the polls that may be the final determining factor," he suggests. "But that also says there's a huge lack of education [on voters' parts]."
Nielsen's viewer numbers for the third quarter placed FNC's Hannity at the top (3.3 million), followed by Tucker Carlson Tonight (3.1 million) and The Ingraham Angle (2.6 million) (both FNC programs), then MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show (2.51) and FNC's The Five (2.5 million).
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