As we reported earlier today, CNN absolutely crushed Fox News in the ratings for the month of April. The numbers are harsh, and in particular, the surge of 25-54 year olds bodes ill for what was seen as the leading news network in America. While it may come as a shock to Fox News, it actually isn’t all that surprising when you think about it.
There is only one thing that has really changed over the last several months, when CNN began closing the gap: the type of coverage that Donald Trump gets. Fox News has decided to cater to a (very) vocal minority in exchange for a brief boost in ratings. Sean Hannity likes to boast of a 40% increase in his ratings, but look at Fox News overall: they are falling in a bad way. And, while the Trump supporters would love to tell you that it is because Fox News isn’t kowtowing to Trump enough, the reality of the situation is a lot simpler: They’ve alienated the legions of conservatives who turned into them to see news.
CNN, meanwhile, has been playing the long game. They’ve slowly been accumulating various right-leaning commentators of actual quality, and really kicked it up this election cycle. Their commentary is a lot more balanced than one would expect of a news channel that is seen as a beltway, liberal outlet for talking points. Granted, CNN is still not perfect, and I don’t expect it to conform to my political views, but I find it much more tolerable.
They have finally discovered the flaw in 24-hour news coverage: you run out of things to say. So, they filled in some gaps with soft-news personalities like Anthony Bourdain and Mike Rowe, focused on documentaries, and have diversified what they offer to the audience. Then, they bring in guys like Jake Tapper, who has been such an aggressive interviewer of politicians on both sides of the aisle that it is very difficult to call him unfair to anyone.
Fox News, meanwhile, has given Donald Trump the level of positive coverage that money could never (legally) buy, and as a result, they’ve dropped in the ratings. It’s no coincidence that as Trump enablers and outright supporters have focused more and more on Trump, their level of appeal has dropped. They don’t have the diversity of panelists CNN has managed to grab, and they don’t have hosts who allow both sides to speak freely.
What’s more, the rising star of Fox News, Megyn Kelly, was fast becoming the most popular personality, and then Donald Trump not only insulted her, but the network on multiple occasions met with Trump to try to work things out and get him to come back on the air. If Kelly decided not to remain with Fox News when her contract is up, Fox News would fall even further – and they would deserve it.
The quality of coverage is key, and Fox News is not providing it. What they have failed to realize is that Donald Trump is but a blip in the ratings. What people will perceive of you when he has come and gone is what will decide your fate. And, if the numbers continue to fall, you can pretty much guess what life is going to be like for them after Trump has gone.