CNN’s chief media correspondent Brian Stelter is spiking the football on the news that his network topped Fox News in the January ratings, but he’s ignoring recent data showing that CNN has once again fallen behind the conservative network’s primetime line-up.
In a piece published Wednesday titled “‘We are lost:’ Fox News suffers ratings slump while staffers fret about post-Trump future,” Stelter noted that CNN topped the charts for January, while Fox ranked third for the first time since 2001.
“Now, according to many Fox sources, Rupert Murdoch is reasserting himself at the network and is fixated on turning around the ratings,” he reported. What Stelter did not mention, however, is that Fox quickly reemerged as the top primetime cable news channel in the same political environment that he argued would disadvantage the network for years to come.
CNN led the overall cable rankings for January due primarily to viewer interest in the Capitol riot that shook the country early in the month. But the network’s ratings dropped off precipitously in the final week of the month, after the spectacle of Inauguration Day was over and pundits could no longer discuss the threat of an unhinged president fighting to overturn an election.
As Variety noted, “analysis of the viewership data across two key metrics—the target news demographic for people ages 25-54, and the total audience watching—shows that CNN ended the final week of January with ratings dropping roughly 44% for total audience versus the prior week across all three hours of primetime.”
Nielsen data shows that Fox News’ primetime lineup of Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham beat CNN’s lineup of Anderson Cooper, Chris Cuomo, and Don Lemon in total viewers over the last week of the month, as noted by the Washington Post.
Stelter, however, chose to ignore the news — instead, he only raised the “big unknown” of whether the shift, which had already ended, would last. Conveniently, he linked to a USA Today story published on January 22.
With Trump out of office, Stelter and media reporter Oliver Darcy have taken to attacking Fox News on a daily basis as their ratings recede.
During the Sunday edition of his show Reliable Sources, Stelter argued that Fox “poisons American politics” and that the goal should be combatting “information pollution.”
Stelter: "This is not aimed at shutting it down … it’s about making Fox better. Putting the news back in Fox News … If Fox is going to keep transitioning into the 24/7 Tucker channel, then maybe it belongs next to sci-fi, not MSNBC … But harm reduction is possible." pic.twitter.com/hQ0zN0yh0u
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) January 31, 2021
On the same show, Darcy argued that comparing Fox to MSNBC is “nonsensical,” because “Fox is spinning their own reality.”