Don Lemon Asks If Former Surgeon General Would Smoke Pot If It Was Legal

Marijuana legalization has become a major election issue this year, and is on the ballot in South Dakota, Oregon, Arizona and, most notably, California.

CNN’s Don Lemon had on former U.S. surgeon general under Pres. Bill Clinton, Joycelyn Elders, and asked her a unique, very personal question: would you smoke weed if it was legal?

Elders was quoted in a New York Times story over the weekend, saying, “I think we consume far more dangerous drugs that are legal: cigarette smoking, nicotine and alcohol.” With Lemon, she said marijuana should be legal “for adults,” should be taxed and it should be “illegal to sell to children.”

Then this exchange happened:

Lemon: If it was legalized, would you do it?
Elders: Would I do…
Lemon: Would you smoke marijuana if it was legalized?
Elders: Well, I never smoked marijuana when it wasn’t legal. I don’t think – when you get my age you aren’t going to start something new so I don’t think I would smoke marijuana now.

It seems odd for a news anchor to ask a marijuana legalization advocate whether she, personally, would smoke it if it was legal (especially someone who is, you know, 77-years-old). But the issue itself has been a major topic on CNN this election cycle. “Marijuana” has been mentioned 114 times on CNN just in October, according to TV Eyes. FNC has mentioned it a lot as well, at 81 times, and there have been 64 mentions on MSNBC (but that includes the doc block shows also).

But the issue itself is less one of left vs. right as it is generational. In the same NYT story that quoted Elders, Adam Nagourney reports the Obama administration’s Justice Department, “intends to prosecute marijuana laws in California aggressively even if state voters approve an initiative on the Nov. 2 ballot to legalize the drug.” If state’s do legalize marijuana, it will likely be because of younger generations and not necessarily overwhelming Democratic (or Libertarian-leaning conservative) support.

One other note: check out Elders’ views on a “sexually healthy society.” And check out the video below, from CNN:

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Sarah Palin Speaks To Excited California GOP Crowd: “Fire Pelosi, Retire Reid”

Sarah Palin made a fiery, near-prime time speech in California tonight to an excited crowd of Republicans.

California, of course, is home to two high profile ‘mama grizzly’ candidates, Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman, who were not in attendance and were not mentioned by Palin. But she did have a lot to say.

It started with a direct shot at the Democratic leadership. “Are you ready to fight for your freedoms?” she asked the crowd, getting large cheers in response. “You fire Pelosi, retire Reid and their whole band of merry followers, and we get back on the right track.”

Palin also addressed the media. “For the press, yes I shall be invoking Reagan’s name again, and again, and again,” she said. “You won’t be hearing me invoking or quoting Alinsky, or Mao. We’re kind of a Reagan kind of crowd around here.”

She also gave Pres. Obama some suggestions on who he should be apologizing to.

Only CNN covered the speech live (but didn’t cover all of it, they went to a commercial before it was finished). Fox News stuck with its regular news programming, and MSNBC was in a doc about vampire killings, which was interesting for the five minutes I switched over but also, was, you know, about killer vampires.

Watch the full speech below:

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Bill O’Reilly’s Ratings Skyrocket After The View Confrontation

Cable news ratings, October 14, 2010:

Bill O’Reilly regularly hosts the most watched show on cable news. Last night, after his appearance on The View, he did even better than usual. O’Reilly had 1,107,000 viewers in the demo, and 4,165,000 total viewers.

• HLN had a strong night last night – with Joy Behar recapping her take on the O’Reilly argument. Behar was #2 at 9pmET in the demo. Nancy Grace had a solid night the hour before as well, significantly ahead of Parker Spitzer in both categories.

Here’s the full scoreboard:

TV NEWS RATINGS: 25-54 DEMOGRAPHIC (L +SD)
Fox News CNN MSNBC CNN Headline News
5 pm Beck

566

Blitzer

132

Matthews

107

Showbiz

68

6 pm Baier

454

Blitzer

98

Ed Show

173

Prime

91

7 pm Shep

492

King, USA

80

Matthews

225

Issues

131

8 pm O’Reilly

1107

ParkerSpitzer

111

Olbermann

328

Grace

267

9 pm Hannity

733

King

114

Maddow

227

Behar

295

10 pm Greta

690

Cooper

236

O’Donnell

250

Grace

126

11 pm O’Reilly

558

Cooper

150

Olbermann

196

Showbiz

110

TOTAL DAY 385 123 138 115
PRIME TIME 843 154 269 2216
Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data.
TV NEWS RATINGS: TOTAL VIEWERS (L +SD)
Fox News CNN MSNBC CNN Headline News
5 pm Beck

2178

Blitzer

580

Matthews

652

Showbiz

125

6 pm Baier

2263

Blitzer

468

Ed Show

765

Prime

181

7 pm Shep

1948

King, USA

447

Matthews

738

Issues

376

8 pm O’Reilly

4165

Parker/Spitzer

532

Olbermann

1253

Grace

776

9 pm Hannity

2662

King

596

Maddow

966

Behar

761

10 pm Greta

2519

Cooper

808

O’Donnell

931

Grace

345

11 pm O’Reilly

1830

Cooper

555

Olbermann

622

Showbiz

306

TOTAL DAY 1434 466 480 273
PRIME TIME 3115 645 1050 618
Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data

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Fox News Remains Far Ahead Of Cable News Competition During Pre-Miner Rescue Week

Fox News Channel finished #4 in prime time on all of cable (total viewers) last week – the week before their ratings are likely to increase even further thanks to the miner rescue coverage.

Here’s a look at the rest of cable news:

• While Fox News moved from #3 to #4 week-to-week, FNC had more viewers in prime time. In total day, Fox News finished 8th on all of cable in total day, and was up week-to-week as well. Prediction for this week of miner coverage: Ratings increase, back to #3 in prime time.

• MSNBC was #23 on cable in prime time – and up week-to-week. In total day, the network finished 28th, up slightly week-to-week as well. Prediction for this week of miner coverage: slight ratings increase, up to #20 in prime time.

• CNN was 35th in prime time, basically flat week-to-week. In total day, the network was #33 and down week-to-week. Prediction for this week of miner coverage: ratings increase in prime time, but not too much. Maybe up to #30. But it should see a big bump in total day – up to around #18.

• HLN was down week-to-week – finishing 38th in prime time and 42nd in total day. Prediction for this week of miner coverage: no change.

Check out the full ranker here/.

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Fox News Gets Best Ratings Since Election Night 2008 With Miner Rescue Conclusion

Cable news ratings, October 13, 2010:

• Fox News’ Day 2 miner rescue coverage (the final rescue from 8:15-9pmET) propelled the network to its best ratings since Election Night 2008. Fox News also beat broadcast networks FOX and NBC during that time period in total viewers. FNC beat all networks combined (CNN, MSNBC, HLN) from 8pmET-10pmET. Shepard Smith cut in to cover the breaking news during prime time.

• Remember Tuesday when CNN won that 11pmET hour? They did it again last night, in both categories. CNN also won total day in the demo.

Here’s the full scoreboard:

TV NEWS RATINGS: 25-54 DEMOGRAPHIC (L +SD)
Fox News CNN MSNBC CNN Headline News
5 pm Beck

466

Blitzer

775

Matthews

201

Showbiz

94

6 pm Baier

519

Blitzer

809

Ed Show

184

Prime

104

7 pm Shep

948

King, USA/Debate

782/521

Matthews

233

Issues

221

8 pm O’Reilly/Miners

1358/1754

ParkerSpitzer

800

Olbermann

284

Grace

324

9 pm Hannity

1269

King

801

Maddow

267

Behar

177

10 pm Greta

824

Cooper

604

O’Donnell

314

Grace

177

11 pm Miner

588

Cooper

701

Olbermann

209

Showbiz

161

TOTAL DAY 495 507 160 129
PRIME TIME 1247 726 293 221
Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data.
TV NEWS RATINGS: TOTAL VIEWERS (L +SD)
Fox News CNN MSNBC CNN Headline News
5 pm Beck

2254

Blitzer

2738

Matthews

666

Showbiz

198

6 pm Baier

2207

Blitzer

2592

Ed Show

688

Prime

263

7 pm Shep

3619

King, USA/Debate

2309/1877

Matthews

716

Issues

615

8 pm O’Reilly/Miners

5291/7066

Parker/Spitzer

2671

Olbermann

1097

Grace

795

9 pm Hannity

5059

King

2746

Maddow

782

Behar

454

10 pm Greta

2900

Cooper

1940

O’Donnell

873

Grace

454

11 pm Miner

2116

Cooper

2238

Olbermann

502

Showbiz

412

TOTAL DAY 2030 1684 494 296
PRIME TIME 4850 2423 917 553
Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data

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Fox News Miner Rescue Ratings Shows Dominance In Live News Coverage

Americans were gripped Tuesday night by images from the scene of the Chilean miner rescue. But whose images gripped them most? While CNN won during one hour, Fox News Channel dominated prime time as usual, ahead of CNN, MSNBC and HLN. The network that built much of its success off of opinion-driven prime time shows clearly still performs well when it comes to live coverage of breaking news.

As we reported earlier, FNC won its usual prime time slots. At 11pmET when the first rescue began, it was CNN that surged to the top of the ratings. But FNC’s numbers spiked too, with its numbers doubling in total viewers and more than doubling in the A25-54 demographic. MSNBC also saw a bump in the numbers during the rescue coverage, while HLN lost some viewers. The numbers show Fox News Channel is dominating the cable news game, both in terms of prime time opinion and in hard news. CNN may still make the claim that they are the nation’s go-to for breaking news, but in reality, FNC keeps its usual lead, and in some cases exceeds it.