It’s a nine-percent bump in the two weeks since Anita Dunn’s whine heard ’round the world — in terms of overall audience. Among the coveted 25-54 demographic? A 14-percent bump. Good work, Barry. People keep telling me that this PR offensive by the White House benefits both sides but I don’t see how that’s true. If the goal is to contain Fox by framing the stories it breaks — Van Jones, ACORN, etc — as somehow illegitimate, then every tenth of a point that Fox’s ratings go up undermines that goal. There will come a point where other news nets will follow Fox’s lead simply for business reasons, ideology or no ideology; follow the link, eyeball the list of top 20 news shows, and ask yourself how far we are from that point, really. To put it in perspective: “Red Eye,” at 3 a.m., is beating Campbell Brown at 8 p.m. on CNN in the demo. (Worse, perhaps: Anderson Cooper is getting beat by … re-runs of Nancy Grace.) CNN’s made a noble attempt at semi-objective coverage in primetime while FNC and MSNBC resort to bombthrowers, but this experiment must be near its end. I wonder what they’ll end up putting in the 8 p.m. slot. Some sort of updated version of “Crossfire,” perhaps, with a new, younger, edgier cast? Andrea Tantaros versus Meghan McCain on a nightly basis? I’d watch.
Here’s a quote to ponder. Remember, when they say “last,” they mean out of four networks — CNN, Fox, MSNBC, and Headline News. Quote: “The only CNN show from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. that did not finish last was Larry King, which was third, ahead of the new Joy Behar show on HLN.” Exit question one: How long before CNN’s getting beat by Joy Behar? Exit question two: Glenn Beck is number two in cable news — at 5 p.m. How long before Ailes moves him to primetime?