Claude Cartaginese

The Rise and Fall of Rachel Maddow

Posted on April 30 2009 12:02 am
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The latest cable news ratings are out, and things are not looking good for MSNBC’s leftwing truth-distorters Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann. Olbermann, known for his trademark, acerbic, ad hominem attacks on his two principal targets — the former Bush administration and the Fox News Network — has seen his ratings fall by 42 percent since last October. Maddow, the overly smug lesbian activist and leftist ideologue, has lost an astounding 65 percent of her 25-to-54-year-old audience demographic since October.

For Maddow especially, these are bad tidings. Heralded last September as  a “rock star” by MSNBC president Phil Griffin, she premiered riding the wave of Barack Obama’s messianic popularity. MSNBC executives expected viewers to respond positively to Maddow’s snide, self-satisfied diatribes (which more or less echo those of Olbermann), and for a while it seemed to work: At one time, Maddow’s show drew an average of 1.9 million viewers — a respectable number, though still small in comparison to Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly’s 2.6 million viewers.

Last October, the leftist mouthpiece known as The New York Times — no stranger itself to loss of market share during its recent slide towards bankruptcy – ran a puff piece titled “Fresh Face on Cable, Sharp Rise in Ratings,” which gleefully described Maddow’s impressive debut:

Ms. Maddow’s ascent is unique in its swiftness. Her program immediately drew almost half a million viewers ages 25 to 54 in a slot where a quarter of a million is more common. Even if her ratings decline after the election — and history suggests they are likely to — Mr. Griffin contended that Ms. Maddow’s performance confirmed that cable news was “a three-way race now.”

For once, the Times was right.  After the election, Maddow’s ratings did indeed begin to nosedive as her show lost its focus (and its purpose) with the departure of the Bush administration. But Maddow has put a positive spin on the ratings slide: “My job of asking questions and being critical doesn’t stop depending on who is in the White House. My main concern is keeping the quality of the show high. We don’t debate the ratings very much.”

The road to regaining her viewers is going to be a rocky one for Maddow, and, without former President Bush to kick around anymore, perhaps an impossible one to navigate. As the Los Angeles Times wonders: “Politics, not to mention television, thrives on conflict, but how much of that will there be with a left-leaning host in a time of a left-leaning president?” 

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