Nolte: Norah O’Donnell Is a Ratings Disaster for CBS News

From left, Chariman of CBS News and executive producer of "60 Minutes" Jeff Fager and co-host Norah O'Donnell participate in the CBS News and "CBS This Morning" TCA panel on Sunday, July 29, 2012 in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Norah O’Donnell is driving the ratings for the CBS Evening News even deeper into the dirt.

The New York Post puts this in perfect perspective: there is a big difference between an “honorable” third-place showing, which is where the CBS Evening News has placed for more than a decade, and a “dismal” third place, which is where it is now.

Even though 15 years have passed, the CBS Evening News has still not recovered from Rathergate, Dan Rather’s partisan attempt to meddle in the 2004 presidential election using fake documents. Rather’s forged documents claimed to prove that then-President George W. Bush had gone AWOL while serving in the Texas Air National Guard.

After a bunch of everyday people on the Internet debunked those documents, the era of New Media was born.

What died, though, was any hope for the CBS Evening News to regain its stature. Eventually, Rather was fired. Since then, the telecast has remained in third place, but nothing as bad as what we are seeing now with Norah O’Donnell at the helm.

The New York Post:

In the last week alone, O’Donnell’s total viewers plunged 17 percent to 5.1 million, according to Nielsen. Among viewers in the crucial demographic ages 25 to 54 that’s coveted by advertisers, the drop was a heart-stopping 25 percent.

The slide has steadily accelerated during the past month, with weekly ratings in the key age group falling between 20 and 29 percent versus a year ago. That’s far steeper than the single-digit drops during the year-and-a-half tenure of her predecessor Jeff Glor, who was pulling down $2 million a year, according to a source.

O’Donnell earns $7 million per year — well, “earns” is probably not as accurate as “is given for reasons that have nothing to do with production or performance.”

Here are the stark numbers for the 2018-2019 season so far:

ABC’s World News Tonight: 8.6 million

NBC Nightly News: 7.9 million

CBS Evening News: 5.8 million

And that 5.8 million dropped to 5.1 million last week, and that number has been sinking steadily since O’Donnell replaced Glor in July.

The problem is not that O’Donnell is a woman. For the five or so seasons she anchored World News Tonight, Diane Sawyer’s ratings were good to great and climbing as she exited.

No, the problem is O’Donnell, who has all the warmth of a great white shark.

Granted, Glor wasn’t exactly lighting the world on fire, but his unceremonious firing has dropped the network from “honorable” to “dismal” in just a few short months.

As I wrote previously, moving O’Donnell from the third place CBS This Morning to the CBS Evening News made next to no sense. If she didn’t shine in the morning, what made CBS believe she would do any better in the evening?

It’s like CNN’s decision to move Chris Cuomo from his failed morning show to what is now his failed evening show.

But, you know, while the media would like to attract viewers, the far-left political agenda comes first, which is why leftists like Cuomo and O’Donnell are allowed to fail upwards.

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.


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