The Corner

I Report, You Decide

Lots of e-mailers angry at the very thought of Keith Olbermann getting good ratings. They say it’s only because conservatives are watching him self-immolate, or deny that the numbers mean anything, as in this missive: “The linked article is ridiculous, and I hope you don’t buy that.  What is missing is the fact that he has merteorically risen from invisibility to total non-relevance.  The raw numbers reveal and  a non-existent audience, albeit 67% larger than it was.  Small numbers are incredibly easy to increase in percentage terms, eg a 100% increase of 2 is 4, and both numbers are small.” Sorry, but that’s wrong, at least when you’re talking about TV ratings. Television measures ratings increases in time slots by comparing the size of an audience year-to-year. It’s true that Olbermann’s audience is a third (or a fourth) the size of Bill O’Reilly’s. But last year it was a tenth the size. When Fox was gaining on CNN before taking the lead outright in the 2000-2001-2002, it was jumps of this sort that indicated its growth was real and continuing. Olbermann has scored a huge gain, and it’s clearly due to his conscious decision to court an audience on the far left. This shouldn’t be surprising — after all, somebody out there voted for Ralph Nader and buys Michael Moore’s books by the millions — but it’s still the first indication that a broadcaster has figured out how to translate Leftist rage into newschannel ratings.

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