Something seems to have happened to the news networks, especially CNN and MSNBC, since the collapse of the collusion narrative. AG Barr released his letter offering the bottom line of the Mueller report in late March. In April, ratings at CNN and MSNBC were down sharply. From the Hill:
CNN’s prime-time ratings dropped a whopping 26 percent in April compared to last year, according to Nielsen Media Research.
MSNBC’s ratings were down 14 percent in April 2019 compared to April 2018, while Fox News’s ratings overall were flat.
The sharp decrease for CNN marked its lowest-rated month in total viewers since October 2015.
In the 25- to 54-year-old demographic that advertisers covet most, it was the network’s least-watched month since Aug. 2015.
Why is CNN down to a level not seen since August 2015? Well, that’s about the time the 2016 election was gearing up. Election coverage continued through 2016 and then by election day we were already talking about Russian interference and by January we were on to the Steele dossier. And then the Special Counsel was appointed and we had nearly two years of endless bombshell reports about Russia, Russia, Russia. Throw in a bit of Stormy Daniels and Michael Avenatti and business was good at CNN.
And then Avenatti started to implode and in March when the collusion narrative collapsed. Suddenly, ratings are way down. The promised end of this story hasn’t worked out as planned. The resistance is tuning out.
If you saw any of AG Barr’s testimony yesterday, you saw Democrats who are furious that Barr let the air out of their impeachment tires. Yesterday, E.J. Dionne called the Barr letter a “lethal sapling” that poisoned the fruit of the Mueller tree:
You've heard of the legal concept, "the fruit of the poisonous tree." The debate over the #MuellerReport was fatally infected by the lethal sapling that was #Barr’s four-page whitewash. And Barr showed today how #Trump corrupts all who serve him.
— EJ Dionne (@EJDionne) May 1, 2019
That’s a truly terrible metaphor but putting that aside it’s clear Democrats are angry that they aren’t getting the mileage out of Mueller they hoped to get. They really did ride that horse a long, long way. I don’t think they know what to do without it. And that’s true for the left-leaning networks as well. Ted Koppel made the connection between Trump-bashing and increased ratings to CNN’s Brian Stelter last year:
“Donald Trump has been very, very good for baseball,” Koppel said.
“But that means what?” CNN’s Brian Stelter asked.
“The ratings are up—it means that you can’t do without Donald Trump,” Koppel replied, adding “You would be lost without Donald Trump.”
“Ted you know that’s not true,” Stelter objected.
“CNN’s ratings would be in the toilet without Donald Trump,” Koppel said. As Stelter objected again, Koppel calmly asked, “What were the ratings before Trump and what are the ratings now?
Stelter admitted the network might be up 20-40% but then said, “If we go back down 40% that’s okay too.”
Well, they’re not quite down 40% but 26% is a substantial drop. But that’s “okay” according to Stelter. I’m sure no one at CNN is worried at all. There are no panicky emails or conference calls taking place. Down 26% and it’s just smooth sailing behind the scenes. I’m sure that’s what’s really happening. And I’m sure Brian Stelter would tell us if it wasn’t.
Does anyone believe that? Does anyone believe the 26% drop is fine with CNN? That’s just not how businesses that run on advertising work. We’ll have to wait and see what happens next month but for now, it looks as if the collapse of the collusion narrative has hit the left-leaning networks where it hurts most.
Here’s Ted Koppel telling Brian Stelter the truth.