Hannity's post-election ratings collapse

Finishing in third place

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The triumphant Fox News press release sent out last December heralded another strong ratings year for Rupert Murdoch's cable channel, and seemed to reaffirm Sean Hannity's place atop the world of CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. Hannity was in the process of lodging his fourth straight year as the most-watched program in cable news, delivering an average nightly audience of 4.4. million viewers. He also had the largest viewership among viewers 25-54, which are preferred by advertisers. In fact, that 4.4 million tally represented the highest-rated program average in cable news history.

It seemed that being a Trump sycophant had paid off handsomely for Hannity, as his nightly propaganda program continued to expand its reach.

But a closer look reveals that in the post-election cable landscape, the wheels have been coming off Hannity's ride, just as Fox News was touting his 2020 success in December. Soon after Joe Biden was declared president-elect and Trump launched a criminal crusade against free and fair elections, Hannity's 9 p.m. program slid into a permanent last-place position behind MSNBC and CNN, among viewers 25-54. Hannity has been stuck there now for two months.

As a portion of Trump's hardcore tribe abandoned Fox News because it wasn't sufficiently deranged in claiming the election had been "stolen” — the way up-and-coming rivals Newsmax TV and OAN have been in recent months — and as CNN rode a massive ratings wave as the post-election chaos grew, Hannity found himself watching the cable news competition from all the way in the rear. It represents a stunning fall for Fox News' one-time untouchable star.

Hannity's slow-motion demise represents the starkest reminder yet for Fox News that its post-Trump world could look very different, especially if far-right viewers dump the channel at Trump's urging.

Fox News is floundering, and some right-wing radicals are cheering the network's hardship. "FOX News continues to crash and burn after they turned a blind eye to the massive voter fraud in the 2020 election," reported the far-right conspiracy site, Gateway Pundit this week, featuring an image of the Hindenburg, with a Fox News logo on its side, bursting into flames.

“They forgot the Golden Goose,” Trump tweeted after the election, claiming that Fox News had supposedly abandoned him by acknowledging president-elect Joe Biden. 

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Recent indications are that Murdoch is scrambling in an attempt to fend off the right-right-wing programming competition. On Monday, Fox News announced that one of its so-called "news" blocks, at 7 p.m., would soon become home to more opinion programming. Out is host Martha MacCullum.

Her sin? One night last month, "The Story with Martha MacCallum" not only lost to CNN and MSNBC in the crucial 25-54 demo, the show actually finished in fourth place, behind a former fringe cable news player, Newsmax. It was an unthinkable humiliation, considering Newsmax in the past had garnered miniscule ratings. Outflanking Fox in the far-right swamp, Newsmax gobbled up viewers by telling them for months that it wasn't possible to know who won the presidential election, and that Trump's second term was still within reach. The channel specifically attacked Fox News for crowning Biden president-elect on November 7.

While Hannity fades into third place each night, CNN has been surging, particularly in the aftermath of the election as Trump's deadly chaos has spread.

For Hannity, his permanent last-place position these days must come as a shock, considering that during the fall campaign he was posting blockbuster numbers. On the Friday before the election, Hannity landed more than 900,000 viewers 25-54, compared to 560,000 for MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and 484,000 for CNN's Chris Cuomo, Hannity's two 9 p.m. competitors. On the night before the election, it was 1.2 million viewers 25-54 for Hannity, compared to Maddow's 770,000 and Cuomo's 806,000.

For the first half of November, Hannity held his ground, finishing as the top one or two 25-54 program on November 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, 18. Then the tide turned. As the Trump's "stolen" crusade took flight, the Hannity defeats started occurring like clockwork. How often does Hannity's time slot now come in last place among viewers 25-54? On all of these dates: November 20, 23, 24, 25. December 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 28, 29, 30. January 4, 6.

In the immediate wake of the Trump-incited coup attempt last week on the U.S. Capitol, Hannity's show got demolished by Cuomo and Maddow. Last Thursday, Hannity landed 500,000 viewers 25-54, compared to 1.7 million for Cuomo and 1.1 million for Maddow. It's hard to recall the last time a regularly scheduled primetime program on Fox News lost by a 3-to-1 margin to CNN, and 2-to-1 margin to MSNBC. 

It's been a spectacular run of last-place finishes for a cable host who easily dominated the 9 p.m. time slot for years.

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🖋 GOOD STUFF:

The riot ramifications continue to be felt within the GOP, even as most members of Congress refuse to condemn Trump. From Politico’s , “GOP Side Resigns While Lashing ‘Congressional Enablers of This Mob’”:

In a scathing resignation letter obtained by POLITICO, Jason Schmid, a longtime senior House Armed Services Committee staffer, slammed the GOP members of the panel who objected to President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College win, particularly after a mob incited by Trump stormed the Capitol last Wednesday and left five people dead…“These extremist influences are a grave threat to our ability to defend the nation, and they must be expelled from the force immediately,” Schmid wrote. “I deeply regret some members may no longer have the credibility needed to accomplish this work.”

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🐞 FUN STUFF — BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A BREAK

Paul McCartney, "Find My Way"

Sometimes you just need to hear a spry, ex-Beatle singing a catchy new pop song.

It's from his latest album, McCartney III. He still has a knack for finding that hook and generating smiles in the process. And as the video confirms, McCartney played all the instruments on his lockdown-era album.

You never used to be afraid of days like this
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