There was an interesting little nugget just lying around in a Salon autopsy examining what might be going wrong at MSNBC, which has seen its ratings collapse over the last three months: In the key 25-54 year-old demo, Fox News’ Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld enjoys more viewers than MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
Key point: Red Eye airs at three in the freakin’ morning. Morning Joe airs between six and nine in the morning.
During the month of April, in all of cable news, Morning Joe ranked 44, with 133,000 viewers in the 25-54 demo. Red Eye ranked 37, with 155,000 viewers in that same demo.
Shouldn’t this fact take some of the air out of Morning Joe’s ridiculously-inflated influence on the national debate? Scarborough’s impact is all based on smoke, mirrors, and fraud.
Moreover, Salon’s Alex Pareene believes Morning Joe might be a large part of the cable net’s problem.
While [Chris] Hayes’ show isn’t doing great, the real poster child for MSNBC’s struggles ought to be someone whose show actually does much worse.
“Morning Joe” is the lowest rated of the big three cable news morning shows in both total viewers and the younger demographic. Fox News’ Red Eye — a show Fox airs at 3 in the morning — had more total and 25-54-year-old viewers in April 2013 than “Morning Joe” did. “Morning Joe” in April 2013 was down, from its April 2012 numbers, in total and in young viewers by a greater percentage than the rest of the network as a whole.
I’m not harping on “Morning Joe” because I think the show is representative of everything wrong with contemporary political elite thinking, though it is, but because it illustrates MSNBC’s larger problem: It’s a political talk show. Every other TV morning show is mostly fluff and weather. “Morning Joe,” instead of entertainment news updates, has a former member of Congress wave a newspaper at Mark Halperin for a while. MSNBC’s target audience may just be much less interested in listening to people talk about politics in spring 2013 than they were during an election year.
It is no secret that, as of late, Joe Scarborough’s morning show has been struggling in the ratings, down double digits in that demo over the same time last year. But what helps to back up Pareene’s claim is that Scarborough’s drop has been steeper than any other MSNBC show. When your lead hitter is whiffing, that can only hurt the rest of the line-up.
My guess is that Scarborough has two problems: The first is that no matter your politics, he has become an insufferable blowhard. Secondly, he has probably lost quite a few Republican viewers as he has attempted to further ingratiate himself with the elite media through increased attacks against fellow Republicans — attacks that hit their apex with Scarborough’s self-serving nihilistic attacks against a number of the GOP’s rising stars.
In short: Conservatives see Scarborough as a selfish backstabber honing his brand at their expense. Leftists see a smug jerk whose dismissive treatment of Mika Brzezinski probably reminds more than a few of them of their first husband.
Let us take a moment to congratulate Greg Gutfeld and his crew, who not only beat Scarborough in April, but about half-dozen other MSNBC shows. Since Red Eye’s launch some six-years ago, the show is not only going strong; it is increasing its audience.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC