Some Conservatives Benefiting from Obama Victory

Not to pat myself on the back (OK, maybe a little), but this was easily predictable the day after the election — and even more so as President Obama’s inauguration approached: Conservative talk hosts, or at least those who anchor Fox News Channel’s lineup, are enjoying a solid post-election bump.

Bill O’Reilly — not a self-professed conservative, but clearly more antagonistic toward what he calls “secular-progressives” than any other political constituency — was up 33% in February compared to the previous year, averaging 3.6 million viewers in just-issued Nielsen data. Sean Hannity — an unapologetic pit bull for the right — rose 38% (to nearly 2.8 million) now that he’s shed former co-host Alan Colmes and, along with Rush Limbaugh, picked up the mantle for the GOP cause while proclaiming his radio show “conservatism in exile.” And Fox has further burnished its openly conservative credentials with the addition of Glenn Beck — one of the least sophisticated voices in the cable space, who started in January and has doubled his timeslot.

Granted, like all the cable news channels, Fox still skews heavily toward those over age 55, but it’s overall gains have included solid increases among adults 25-54 — the prime currency for news ad rates, which should put a smile on the face of Fox News CEO Roger Ailes. It’s no secret that Ailes and outgoing News Corp. CEO Peter Chernin were never particularly close, and the strong performance by FNC should ensure that others within the News empire tread cautiously in encroaching on Ailes’ fiefdom.

The one potential negative is that Fox risks narrowing its lens — becoming a balm to those still angry over the election results, resentful about Obama’s victory and ranting about socialism — while excluding more of the moderates and liberals that the channel attracted. Frankly, when I turned to FNC not long ago and heard Hannity still railing about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers, it was hard not to think, “Geez, dude, let it go. We’ve got bigger fish to fry.”

Still, when a relatively small slice of the U.S. population like 2.4 million viewers (Fox’s overall primetime average in February — a 28% year-to-year improvement) can tower over the direct cable-news competition in total audience, you needn’t please all the people all the time. And fortunately, when it comes to delivering eyeballs media buyers don’t quibble about little things — beginning with how bitter they might be.

Update: O’Reilly addressed Fox’s post-election ratings on his program in the “Talking Points” opening on Feb. 26, but he appeared to draw the wrong conclusion. “Americans are worried, and they want the truth,” he said, attacking the usual targets — NBC News, the New York Times — in his self-serving argument that nobody can expect “real” news for those left-leaning sources.

Perhaps that’s parly responsible for FNC’s rise, but another source seems considerably more likely: Americans who can’t believe that their side lost, and who look to Fox News for reinforcement of their views and reassurance.

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  1. foxnewslover says:

    I LOVE FOX NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Julie says:

    I’ll tell you why people watch Fox–because we are tired of the liberal MSM telling us just the news they want us to hear. They go after every conservative they can about anything they think remotely criticizes Obama, but let him get away with appointing tax cheats, former Fannie/Freddie
    thieves, and breaking every campaign promise he ever made.
    For instance, what happened to the 5 day waiting period before signing a bill so the American people could see what is in it? No, he had to rush it through Congress, so he could take the weekend off. I guess he thinks he’ll take credit for getting troops out of Iraq when Bush already had the same withdrawal plans in place. Even Princess Pelosi recognizes his failure to remove troops immediately as he said he would. Also, he certainly never mentioned leaving 50,000 there during his campaign. Give me a break! He cares only about furthering his socialist programs while he has the chance, not worrying that he may send us off the economic cliff in the process. To say he is unqualified and inexperienced has become a compliment considering his effect on the economy so far.

  3. Eric says:

    I don’t really think that Fox news anchors and their shows gained “New” or “Supporting” viewers. I would rather say that their numbers are up for a very simple reason. People are REALLY interested in seeing what Fox has to say about everything that our President does. I’m not a republican and I personally haven’t watched Fox News for about 5 years now because they are sooooo “Right” leading. Now I watch (especially after a Presidential speech or “Left” decision) just to watch them fall apart. These people are loosing their minds. I find it interesting and humorous. I actually go to bed with a smile on my face thinking about these pathetic fools. Better than any “Reality Show” I’ve seen in years.
    If these guys want to believe that their numbers are up because people love them and want to follow their decisions, then GREAT!!! Let them believe it. They believe anything they want anyways.
    Just know that the Nation is laughing at you, not with you, Fox Fools.

  4. Romi says:

    Always you have to keep tour friends close and your enemies closer.Another response on my case:I can’t resist the colics faces, and the pain that we inflicted to them by voting for Obama.If even 0 people watch them , they woudn’t be misssing the ratings , what they craved is the power.And power is what they dont’ have anymore.They are in a minority now,that’s why they stuck only on radicals nutjobs

  5. Thomas says:

    I like Fox programs. Balance Fox with Huffo or MSNBC, and you will actually get a balanced picture of the same story.

  6. D. Advocate says:

    It is all about trust. People trust those who tell the audience upfront that they have a particular bias, and everything they say will be from that Prism.
    O’Reilly claims to be a traditionalist.
    Hannity claims to be a Conservative.
    Beck claims to be a Conservative.
    So everything they say will have that bias and they don’t apologize.
    Fox News Anchors, are the exact definition of Fair and Balanced. That is why most on the Left don’t even knows their names.
    What people won’t tolerate is the rest of the MSM, who lean left when they give commentary and claim they have “No Bias-No Bull” or they are just playing Hardball.

  7. Nuff says:

    I never watched Fox until the 2008 elections. Now I watch them all the time to hear them whine and see them eat crow. I have never had so much fun with political/news Tv as I am having now. CNN I will occassionally return to contribute to your viewer statistics but there is no way I am ready to see the conservatives stop moaning. I will continue to watch Fox until people like Hannity run out of tears and get hoarse. I have never had so much fun at the expense of conservatives in my entire life.

  8. sissy bratu says:

    Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity are just a couple of arrogant bullies. They do nothing but compliment themselves. Hang with lice and you get lousy. That’s the matra for the republican party.
    Also wondering why Billo has to have some sort of sex story on practically every evening. I do not watch either of these shows, I only switch from Keith and Rachael during the commericals. As far as Wm. Ayres and Rev. Wright, give it up. You LOST.

  9. Phgreek says:

    Mr. Olson…well said.
    I think its dangerous for folks to constantly live in their comfort zone without at least exploring what the other side has to say.
    If I had to rate the “bitterness”, “emotional”, “beat the dead horse” and just plain “bitchy” quotient…I’d say folks, you all are leading.
    Some of what O’reiley says makes sense…some of what Oberman says makes sense…it happens..they are both fairly smart guys…
    If ya shape your life and opinions based on a chorus of MSNBC, this blog and similar like minded sources…YOU ARE THE PROBLEM. Being lulled to sleep by a party line, or dubbing a party / president or network/blog (scary) as the SOLUTION is just asking for more of the same conduct that landed our economy, and DC in the state of disrepair it stands in today….
    In other words, stop Drinking your own bathwater…

  10. JACKFISH says:

    In your thinly veiled disdain for FOX you failed to mention that three headed cabal of MathewOlbermaddow and their uber leftist slant…. gotta think FOX is also benefiting from the fact that these three together have worse ratings than one episode of Bill… They are stillin their Bush hating, Palin bashing mantra… Heck , the prison shows get more viewers ( with higher iq quotients )

  11. Paul Olson says:

    Brainless talking-head chatterati blather that wastes cable TV bandwidth.

  12. Brian Lowry says:

    Appreciate the responses, just wanted to again put these numbers in context: 57 million people voted for McCain. Fox averages 2.4 million at any given moment in primetime. The cumulative nightly tally is obviously higher than that, but it’s still not a massive percentage of the population that’s tuning in every night. We’re talking about a solid conservative base, with some appeal to moderates who just enjoy the verbal jousting and liberals who want to see what their ideological opposites are up to. Plus Fox is lively — a bit like “Eyewitness News” in the early days. That’s all part of its formula for success.

  13. Sandy says:

    I agree with Lynne. Bill O’Reilly is an aragant right wing lover who thinks he fools us by saying he is independent. We know you are a Republician at heart. You critize the President and everything he is trying to do. If your so smart, why didn’t you run for President? Just think, you could have had Sean Hannity for your running mate. Plus, all the bragging you do about yourself, tells me you are an awfully insecure man. Grow up!

  14. ugh says:

    None of them are actually with the news industry: they are hate, anger and venom demons. Too bad so many Americans are so mentally and emotionally dysfunctional to actually thrive on so much hate. But I guess its a lot easier than looking in the mirror.

  15. Denie says:

    Bill – you’re disgusting. You’re a hypocrite and a blowhard.
    How does it feel to benefit from your hateful propaganda? That’s all it is and it’s damaging to our country.
    HOPE YOU’RE PROUD TO BE PART OF “REAL AMERICA” – land of the backward and small-minded republicans.

  16. lynne says:

    That is amazing….I cannot believe that so many still watch these fools. Where were they when Bush was getting away with crimes? Now they nitpick ANYTHING that Obama says or does. The hypocrasy is mind blowing.
    MSNBC from 6-10pm is far superior and if you check out what is said on MSNBC you can verify that it is true.
    Fox is just a subsidiary of the RNCorp in my humble opinion.

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