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Ratings at MSNBC Hit Record Lows --- Is This Bad News for Dems?

Bernard Goldberg

By Bernard Goldberg

Published Oct. 14, 2014

 Ratings at MSNBC Hit Record Lows --- Is This Bad News for Dems?
We live in a country where the more liberal candidate for president has won the popular vote in 5 of the last 6 elections. (Obama twice, Clinton twice and Gore beat Bush once in the popular vote.) And since people who are interested in politics usually seek out a place on the media dial where they can get their views validated, it's not unreasonable to think that there'd be a pretty big audience for liberal opinion media shows on talk radio and cable TV.

But, as we all know, there isn't. In fact, liberal talk radio is a total bust — can you say Air America? And the same goes for cable TV's most "progressive" channel — MSNBC. So what's going on?

Here's a story from page one of the business page in the New York Times about MSNBC's ratings death spiral.

"Rachel Maddow, the biggest star on the MSNBC cable network, just posted her lowest quarterly ratings results ever.

"Morning Joe, MSNBC's signature morning program, scored its second-lowest quarterly ratings, reaching an average of just 87,000 viewers in the key news demographic group.

"And Ronan Farrow Daily, the network's heavily promoted new afternoon show, which stars a 26-year-old Rhodes Scholar with a high-profile Hollywood lineage, has been largely a dud.

" MSNBC has seen its ratings hit one of the deepest skids in its history, with the recently completed third quarter of 2014 generating some record lows.

I repeat: What's going on?

I have a theory (and am anxious to hear yours). It's not just that the shows on MSNBC are mind-numbingly boring, though that's part of it. And it's not only that more often than not, the prime time MSNBC hosts are predictable and don't talk to us so much as they lecture us, as if they're the professors and we're the dumb students. They come off as pompous. Not a good thing in a TV host.

But there's something else going on, I think. And it has to do with President Obama's ratings, which are also at or near record lows.

Ever since he became president, MSNBC has been the voice of Mr. Obama and his liberal pals in Congress. After he won the presidency, Jay Leno said Barack Obama and his team were planning a victory party at their campaign headquarters — MSNBC!

The reason the joke works is because it has more than a little truth to it. A lot more.

The American people have grown tired of Mr. Obama. The poll numbers reflect their disillusionment with the man who was supposed to be a post-partisan messiah but turned out to be a run-of-the mill Chicago politician. His ratings are down so it makes perfect sense that the ratings for his cable channel would be down too.

So here are a few questions: Is MSNBC the canary in the coalmine? Are the network's terrible ratings a sign of what will come in the midterm elections? If Obama supporters are tuning away from MSNBC, will they also tune away — stay at home — on Election Day?

I suspect MSNBC — the place for politics, as they like to tell us — is sending a message. And it's one that should make Democrats shudder: Even liberals are jumping ship. That can't be good for Democratic chances of holding on to the Senate.

But let's be honest, Republicans have the capacity to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Greg Gutfeld on Fox has said that Democrats are very good at putting forth bad ideas and Republicans are very bad at putting forth good ones. He's right. Unfortunately.

We'll know soon enough if Democrats hold onto the Senate. As for MSNBC, there's no hope — not until Hillary announces and Rachel and the gang jump on the Hillary-for-president campaign bus. That should boost their ratings from the current non-existent back to normal, which is merely horrible.

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