Connect with us
BNM Summit

BNM Writers

Fight “Trump Fatigue” With Diverse Topics

Those tied tightest to Trump nationally have seen their ratings slide

Published

on

The Trump media addiction is real, on both sides. And the numbers are proving it’s not a winning formula in 2021.

Despite the fact that we are four months removed from Donald Trump being in the White House, some news media folks can’t kick a bad habit.

I checked in on CNN.com on Wednesday evening and the majority of their top stories were somehow about a man who is playing golf every day, rather than dissecting what is happening in the country by the people who are actually, ya know, in charge.

Their Trump obsession hasn’t worked on TV either.

According to Nielsen, from the last week in January to April 25, CNN lost 792,000 primetime viewers, which is nearly half of its audience.

Meantime on the other side, no media personality tied themselves closer to Donald Trump than Sean Hannity, and with Trump out of the picture (relatively speaking), Hannity has seen his show take a hit.

As Outkick’s Bobby Burack wrote this week: “Though [Tucker] Carlson’s rise began in 2017 when he succeeded Bill O’Reilly as host at 8 pm on Fox News, he didn’t succeed O’Reilly as the biggest draw in cable news until this past fall. In the months leading into the 2020 election, Carlson was still in nightly, down-to-the-wire viewership battles with Sean Hannity. Hannity ultimately edged out Carlson for the 2020 win.

Since February, it’s rare that Carlson is not No. 1 in cable news, usually by a few hundred thousand. In April, Tucker Carlson Tonight was the only show to average over 3 million viewers, averaging 300,000 more viewers than The Five, April’s second-highest-rated program.”

Think about that, Hannity has seen his program fall from the No. 1 show to a clear No. 3. Sean still puts on a great show, but it’s clear the Trump fatigue is real, on both sides of the aisle.

As a result, what Tucker Carlson has navigated brilliantly on cable news is the ability to take issues that are undoubtedly important to a Republican-leaning voter, but do it while rarely invoking specific politicians, including Trump, and certainly not making it a Trump rally on TV. Carlson rarely brings up the former President’s name. Carlson brilliantly highlights the cultural issues that are impacting Americans every day, but unless a specific politician can add inherent value to the topic, he’s not looking to talk to the Beltway folks.

And it’s working.

To further this point: A new Morning Consult/Politico poll asked “If the 2024 Republican primary were being held today, for whom would you vote?”

Yes, as expected, Donald Trump was the leader with 48%, more than triple Mike Pence who came in second at 13%, followed by Donald Trump Jr., Mitt Romney, Ted Cruz, Nikki Haley and
others.

There are two ways to interpret this data:
1) Trump more than tripled his nearest competitor.
2) More than half of Republican primary voters don’t want Donald Trump to be their candidate.

To point out the latter option is not to knock what Trump did for the Republican Party and the role he can play going forward, but simply to note that politics, and the news cycle, move quickly and you don’t want to be left holding the bag.

These are unique times for cable news and talk radio hosts. As this column has noted many times, what we have is local news to hopefully fill much of our content, which our national counterparts don’t have, can separate us. But as we dive into the national discussions, rather than making it purely political, which still may be exhausting to an audience still recovering from a wild 2020, taking an approach of Tucker Carlson’s, where it’s more driven by topics of cultural significance and doesn’t necessarily need a politico talking head to interpret, is smart, unique, important and relatable.

And based on the last several months of ratings, it’s clearly working.

Subscribe To The BNM Rundown

The Top 8 News Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox every afternoon!

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

BNM Writers

The Debate About Debates Will Continue to Rage On

I’ve determined that it’s a no-win for the moderator. Interrupt too much, and you’re a jerk. Stick to time too much, and you’re a neurotic jerk.

Published

on

A photo of the 2024 Republican Presidential candidates
(Photo: Fox News)

There’s been so much talk about debates ever since President Joe Biden and Donald Trump agreed to two of them.

Do we need them? If so, how many? Too many. Not enough. Who are they even for?

Microphones: Should there be a kill switch?

Audience: To have or to have not.

Then, there’s the issue of the moderating.

Why does everyone stink at it? How involved should they be? How many should there be? Even on Barrett News Media, their very own existence was put up for debate.

I have done one in my career. It was “meh” at best. It may be one of my legitimate blind spots (and here you are, thinking I can do anything).

Despite all of those above questions and a certain modicum of self-doubt about my ability to perform the duty well, I am all in for doing them locally — whenever and wherever possible.

In studio. At a diner. Library. Church. Ice cream shop. You name it.

Why?

Good, bad, or indifferent, it satisfies a big thirst in the local news desert, and it’s great exposure for the station and the show.

The companies that produce written words (formerly known as newspapers) don’t seem overly interested in leading the way with political coverage. When there’s a news conference or nominating event, they cover it, but there’s very little enterprise reporting at the moment.

Same with television, and some local stations don’t even have a dedicated political reporter anymore.

10 years ago, congressional candidates might not even consider a radio-focused debate. Television was king, and newspapers were thorough. Now, as it sits, things are different, and if I land a congressional or senate race, I can go get TV to simulcast – and not the other way around. Even if the TV stations don’t bite on the opportunity, I can record it myself and post it on YouTube.

Having said all that, I am not 100 percent certain of this, but I think it’s true. And we’re about to test it.

My initial approach is the lowest-hanging fruit – candidates who need exposure badly. In my state, that’s the Republican primary in the race to face two-time incumbent Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT). Murphy is a huge favorite, and the Republican primary will get very little attention.

Motivated candidates. Under-the-radar race. Perfect for me.

Then, there’s actually a race garnering national attention that I will take a shot at. Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District has a rematch from 2022, and it’s close – really close. The Republican candidate will take as many debates as possible, and the Democrat may bite because my show has a lot of unaffiliated voters. She needs them to keep her seat.

As for the debates themselves? Let’s be honest, there’s a cringy-ness to political debates. People are nervous. Time is limited, and it’s bizarre to say negative things about a person when they are right next to you.

That’s why we watch and listen even if our minds are made up about voting.

As a moderator, the issues are myriad. What kind of format should you have? Well-defined timing and rebuttals or let them go? How do you fact-check in real-time when you have a staff of two? What kind of questions should you ask? Where should it be? Live audience? Allow parties to have an equal number of “guests”, or have it be a free-for-all for attendance?

I’ve determined that it’s a no-win for the moderator. Interrupt too much, and you’re a jerk. Stick to time too much, and you’re a neurotic jerk. Let them go, and you’re a wimp. Have an imbalance in talk time, and you’re biased.

I don’t care; it’s worth it, especially since single-host radio seems more fluid and better set up for authentic debate. I won’t (hopefully) have to share time with one or two other moderators, and with radio, it feels easier to interject, deflect, and pivot.

Maybe that’s just a feeling, but it’s how I feel.

Oh, and one last thing. Do me a favor: Don’t share this article or tell anyone. I don’t want the TV guys to know I’ve got the jump on them.

Thanks.

Subscribe To The BNM Rundown

The Top 8 News Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox every afternoon!

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading

BNM Writers

2024 Presidential Race Has a Media Problem

It’s not just the media’s fault, political candidates typically stick with more friendly outlets.

Published

on

President Biden recently said he was Vice President under Barack Obama when COVID started. This is false. President Trump spends more time “truthing” in ALL CAPS than he does in the “Ice Box” New York Courtroom. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has a worm in his brain which gives him short-term memory loss. These are the three candidates who are dominating the media headlines for the 2024 election.

But, are these men the best candidates America has to offer? Unlikely, but it is what we have because the media and the political establishment have drowned out our ability to have rational people running for political office. It’s time for the media to do better.

Most outlets pander to their audience which enables confirmation bias (all things we’ve talked about before). Through all the skewed news, there is one cable news outlet that’s been capable of having substantial air time with all three candidates, CNN. Their coverage, however, is laced with criticism:

Mediaite: CNN Called Out For Not Fact-Checking Biden Interview With Erin Burnett

CNN: Analysis: CNN faces harsh criticism after Trump unleashed a firehose of lies during its live town hall

Real Clear Politics: Robert F. Kennedy Jr.: CNN Edited Interview So It Looked Like I Said Biden Was More Of A Threat To Democracy Than Trump

In essence, what these articles say is CNN lets major political candidates slide while subsequently chopping up interviews from third-party candidates. Oliver Darcy’s article does note CNN defended itself for letting Trump rampage on about election interference saying, “That is CNN’s role and responsibility: to get answers and hold the powerful to account.” But letting a candidate repeatedly say the 2020 election was stolen is hardly holding him accountable.

This is why it’s not shocking both the Biden and Trump campaigns agreed upon “The most trusted name in news” to host their first debate. Despite the outlet having less than One Million viewers for their day (462,000) and primetime (601,000) Nielsen ratings in March.

It’s not just the media’s fault, political candidates typically stick with more friendly outlets. The media does try and reach out to opposing candidates (okay, some outlets don’t really try to get opposing politicians and that’s a different story) but very few politicians can handle the pressure from the opposing side.

If a political candidate can not take the heat from so-called “journalists” who are challenging you with the opposing side of an argument, how are you going to handle everyone else in the world (because let’s face it even some of our closest allies aren’t the biggest fans of US).

The media is the 4th estate, which means we have to confront, pester, and question our politicians (even when we agree with them). Very few members of the press do this now and the ones who do are labeled as ‘difficult’ by media outlets and often ignored by politicians.

Aside from the labels, some (but not enough) in the mainstream media aren’t openly recognizing the biggest elephant in room, the age of our politicians. In 2023, Statista reported, the average age of the House of Representatives is 57.9 (this isn’t bad). The average age in the Senate is 64 (not great but I’ll take it). Out of all of these politicians, the best we can do are three guys who are in their 70s and 80s. Whenever Joe Biden stumbles up the stairs or opens his mouth I’m not sure if I’m watching a real-life remake of Weekend at Bernie’s or I’m watching elder abuse.

There are over 330 million people living in the United States. Most voting-age adults did not want to see a Trump/Biden match-up again yet, here we are. Mr. Kennedy likely won’t make the Oval Office. He will, however, take votes away from both Democrat and Republican candidates.

The President should represent the best America has to offer. I’d like to think those who’ve held and run for office have been at their best, mentally, physically, and emotionally. Historically some haven’t been, but at least LBJ and Taft tried.

When the media doesn’t confront, pester, and question our politicians it shows they have given up. It is the media saying these three are the best America has to offer, (a guy who might have Alzheimer’s, another who might be a narcissist, and the third who admits to having a worm in his brain). It’s a travesty. A Democratic Republic (because America is not a Democracy) only works when every power does its job correctly. Ben Franklin said it, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” Right now the media is not doing enough due diligence to keep it.

Subscribe To The BNM Rundown

The Top 8 News Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox every afternoon!

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading

BNM Writers

Norah O’Donnell Interview With Pope Francis Leads 60 Minutes to 18% Ratings Jump

It was its most-watched edition in five weeks, and the third-most watched within the past ten weeks.

Doug Pucci

Published

on

A photo of Norah O'Donnell interviewing the Pope
(Photo: CBS News)

CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell sat down with Pope Francis for a historic interview that originally aired on Sunday, May 19 on 60 Minutes. This was the first time a pope has given an in-depth, one-on-one interview to a U.S. broadcast network. It also marked the 56th  season finale of the long-running CBS newsmagazine.

Among the topics discussed in the interview were same-sex marriage, clergy sexual abuse scandals, the wars in Ukraine and Gaza, and the migrant crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border.

According to Nielsen Media Research, the May 19 edition of 60 Minutes averaged 7.33 million viewers. up +18 percent from its prior week and ranking first in the hour. It was its most-watched edition in five weeks, and the third-most watched within the past ten weeks, behind March Madness Elite-8-fueled Mar. 31 (10.365 million) and Masters golf-fueled Apr. 14 (8.588 million). 

One factor of the increase was what led into it: the final round of the major golf tournament, the PGA Championship (4.958 million for 1-7:14 PM ET, above average from a regular golf tournament audience).

A lengthier version of the interview Norah O’Donnell held with Pope Francis aired on CBS the following night on Monday, May 20 at 10 PM ET. That delivered an audience of 2.247 million viewers, which placed behind NBC’s Weakest Link (3.011 million) and Fox News’ Gutfeld! (2.871 million) within the hour.

Subscribe To The BNM Rundown

The Top 8 News Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox every afternoon!

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading
Advertisement

Advertisement Will Cain
Advertisement

Upcoming Events

BNM Writers

Copyright © 2024 Barrett Media.