Huckabee Legitimizes Tea Party Movement, Sounds Like A Candidate

Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee joined Greta Van Susteren on Fox News yesterday to discuss what will become of the Tea Party Movement, lending legitimacy to a group that has been met with derision and mockery. The conversation allowed Huckabee to adopt populist language in support of an organization that, according to him, has been sick of conservatives, too. “I’m hoping the Tea Party people will be absorbed into a solid and principled Republican party, instead of the Republican party that many of them have been fed up with,” said Huckabee, sounding like he was certainly running for office.

“If the Democrats are smart, they would hope that the tea party movement would turn into a bonafide political organization to the point of nominating candidates,” said Huckabee, presenting a worst-case-scenario for the right. He cited spending and government intervention as reasons the Tea Partiers are angry, even at Republicans.

The talk seemed to forgo any debate about whether the Tea Partiers are already a faction of the Republican Party, painting them instead as a possible repeat of Ross Perot’s grassroots support in the 1992 presidential election. This comparison has surely been made, and yet, with the Tea Party media narrative more concretely defined as a viable alternative, Huckabee seems to be positioning himself to grab those votes as if he were already a full blown candidate. Here’s the clip:


Why Glenn Beck Is Really The Most Watched Cable News Host

Glenn Beck is an absolute phenomenon on cable news – in his first year at Fox News, his ratings have skyrocketed, he’s appeared on the cover of Time and convinced one Mediaite writer he’ll be the next Oprah Winfrey.

But his program’s ratings still put him behind Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity most months in total viewers. Here’s why that’s not exactly true.

One of the ratings categories for broadcast TV is the share data, which is defined by Nielsen as: “The percent of households (or persons) using television who are tuned to a specific program, station or network in a specific area at a specific time.” (Put another way – it’s the percentage of people watching that particular channel at that particular hour, based on the total number of people watching TV at the time.) It’s used by broadcast TV, but never for cable TV – the reason being the ratings are usually so small compared to all of television the share average would be negligible.

Well not so for Fox News. We took a look at the cable ratings from 5-11pmET using the Persons Using Television (PUT) average to determine the share ratings for last week’s cable programs. And when weighted based on this average, Glenn Beck’s 5pmET show comes out on top by a significant margin.

Beck has a 5.5% share in total viewers, compared to O’Reilly at 8pmET with 4.6%, Hannity at 9pmET with 3.9% and Greta Van Susteren at 10pmET with 3.4%. In the A25-54 demographic, the breakdown was similar: Beck – 4.1%, O’Reilly – 3.1%, Hannity – 2.5%, Greta – 2.1%. (By comparison, no other cable news network reached higher than 1% share at any of those hours.)

These percentages are pretty remarkable for all of the big FNC anchors, but specifically for Beck. 5.5% of all people watching TV (broadcast and cable) were tuned to his 5pm show last week. A cable news show. Now last week happened to be an especially good week for Beck, anchored by his Communism special on Friday. Friday was his best ratings ever in both categories, and he had the top cable show in the 5pm hour in both categories as well.

But the point remains – while Bill O’Reilly continues to add to his total of consecutive months as the #1 cable news show, Beck’s ratings are better when factoring in the amount of viewers watching on all of television.

Beck appears regularly on O’Reilly’s program, and he’s currently in a joint “Bold And Fresh” speaking tour with him. They very publicly get along. But a Huffington Post story this week raised the idea of “angst amongst O’Reilly’s camp” over a poll putting Beck ahead of O’Reilly in most popular TV personality.

Who really knows? It’s an issue Don Imus brought up last week, putting Beck on the spot with some uncomfortable questions about timeslots and ratings and his FNC colleagues. Beck joked his way through most of it. But the one thing we know is Beck’s ratings are unprecedented, and at 5pmET, out of the key prime time area, they appear even more spectacular.

Here’s the Imus/Beck interview last Friday:

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Panel Nerds: The State Of The Union (Delivered by Andy Borowitz)

nerdzWho: Jeffrey Toobin, Calvin Trillin, Janeane Garofalo and Jonathan Alter, moderated by Andy Borowitz
What: The Andy Borowitz Report: Obama’s First Year
Where: 92nd St. Y
When: January 27, 2010
Thumbs: Up

Host/moderator Andy Borowitz set the tone for the evening with ten minutes of stand-up comedy at the top of the event. It sent the message that this wasn’t going to be the same old discussion evaluating the president’s first year in office. It was a night with more laughs than sharp critique. And that’s just what the crowd was looking for on the night of the president’s State of the Union address.

Borowitz first invited Trillin to join him on the stage so Trillin could share his essay titled “Anticipating the Inauguration of Barack Obama.” While whimsical in its design, the poem helped remind audience members just how excited the nation was at the start of the president’s term. But rather than engage in a discussion about the disappointment and disillusionment now attached to Obama, this panel chose to emphasize his strengths and achievements over the course of his first year.

It was only Janeane Garofalo who showed her emotions – and passion – on her sleeve (her best quality). Jonathan Alter and Jeffrey Toobin came to Obama’s defense when the criticism mounted – such as when Garofalo charged Obama still seeks bipartisanship while his enemies intend to destroy him, something Alter rejected as a lesson the president learned nearly a year ago after the fight for the stimulus bill. Alter was the resident expert on timelines and facts as he has just completed a book about Obama’s first year in office.

Toobin commented that Obama’s life should have been easier this year as he came in with 58 Senate democrats behind him. He pointed out that 30 years ago Republicans weren’t as far right-wing as they are today and they negotiated deals with regularity but today are “against everything.” Trillin was quick to point out that since Obama took office, his opposition made it their mission to derail all of his efforts.

Everyone agreed that Obama made mistakes and that some mishaps occurred over the year. But they wanted a break for at least one night from having to think about the serious issues that plague the world. Instead, they entertained each other and the audience with the lighter side of the debate.

What They Said
“Here we have a president who only escalated one war and he gets the Nobel Peace Prize. Think about how low the bar was set by President Bush.”
- Jeffrey Toobin makes us wonder what escalating no wars would earn

“We’ve been more successful at convincing Sunni warlords than we have at Republican senators.”
- Andy Borowitz is happy that the “Sunni Awakening” didn’t have the option to filibuster

“It bothers me when people call the teabaggers populists. They’re not populists. They’re Foxulists.”
- Jonathan Alter says tea baggers only watch the “most trusted” network

“Who would want to be the President of the United States, though?”
- Janeane Garofalo thinks there’s something wrong with the position these days

“The problem with Hillary is she’s not good with meter, and [Obama’s] not good with rhyme”
- Calvin Trillin sees every person through the lens of poetic possibility and gives us an idea for a “Perfect Strangers” like sitcom

“The Republican party is dying. The Republican party is only succeeding because Obama hasn’t succeeded yet.”
- Jeffrey Toobin wants the Democrats to regain control over public opinion

What We Thought

  • Alter quoted Stephen Colbert and Trillin cited “The Daily Show” at different points. It’s clear that not only are these comedy shows here to stay, they’ll continue to impact the political sphere for a long time.
  • The panel spent a good portion of the discussion talking about filibusters and their influence on the passage of bills. What was once a last resort used by desperate southern senators is now part of the landscape of American government.

PANEL RULES!
Some audience behavior seems to repeat itself panel after panel. We’ll be updating a running list of “PANEL RULES!” that will help ensure that you are not the dweeb of the Panel Nerds.

Panel Nerds don’t like…Tangent Makers
We didn’t like tangents when they were opposite over adjacent angles, and we sure as heck don’t have patience for them now. This panel was about evaluating how Obama fared in his first year. That should be open-ended enough as the panelists covered the gamut – foreign, domestic, social justice issues. Whether Rahm Emanuel will run for mayor of Chicago is not of interest to the audience. Thankfully, Borowitz fielded the question himself assuring the asker with a confident “No” before moving on to the next pertinent question.


Fox News Dominates State Of The Union Cable News Ratings

Cable news ratings, January 27, 2010: Check out the highlights, and see the full ratings below:

• Fox News had the largest cable news audience, by far, last night for the State of the Union, with 5,741,000 total viewers (just more than CNN and MSNBC combined for the speech). They actually improved in the post-speech analysis. In all of prime time, FNC beat CNN/MSNBC/HLN combined in both total viewers and the A25-54 demographic.

• Compared to last year’s address to Congress (the Not State of the Union), FNC is up double digits and CNN and MSNBC were down.

Check out all the ratings below, and leave your own thoughts in the comments:

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

Beck

764

Blitzer

150

Matthews

69

Prime

89

6 pm

Baier

565

Blitzer

152

Ed Show

97

Prime

114

7 pm

Shep

578

Blitzer

169

Matthews

123

Issues

216

8 pm

O’Reilly

1065

SOTU Preview

364

Olbermann

256

Grace

305

9 pm

State of the Union

1843

State of the Union

1130

State of the Union

758

Behar

184

10 pm

GOP Response

2036

GOP Response

884

GOP Response

611

Grace

236

11 pm

Hannity

1220

Cooper

540

Olbermann

439

Showbiz

210

TOTAL DAY 641 271 172 160
PRIME TIME 1608 804 560 237
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

3140

Blitzer

561

Matthews

550

Prime

183

6 pm

Baier

2681

Blitzer

574

Ed Show

515

Prime

206

7 pm

Shep

2165

Blitzer

572

Matthews

602

Issues

503

8 pm

O’Reilly

4067

Brown

1216

Olbermann

1159

Grace

778

9 pm

State of the Union

5741

State of the Union

3326

State of the Union

2410

Behar

513

10 pm

GOP Response

6383

GOP Response

2609

GOP Response

2031

Grace

467

11 pm

Hannity

3636

Cooper

1636

Olbermann

1510

Showbiz

450

TOTAL DAY 2177 871 644 355
PRIME TIME 5244 2441 1928 570
Data by Nielsen Media Research. Live and same day (DVR) data.


FOX (Not FNC) Wins State Of The Union Ratings Last Night

The overnight ratings are in for Pres. Obama’s first State of the Union, and the broadcast networks combined for 30.2 million total viewers during the 9-10:30pm speech.

The winner for the night – surprisingly it was FOX, which surely benefited from its American Idol lead-in.

Shepard Smith anchored for FOX broadcast network, and he led the network competitors by a hefty margin. FOX averaged 9.74 million total viewers during the 9pm hour, compared to ABC with 7.64, NBC with 7.15 and CBS with 6.16.

Fox News regularly beats its cable news competitors for Pres. Obama speeches, but FOX doesn’t always even air the special events when it comes to Pres. Obama (although a State of the Union is different from a press conference).

Overall, the numbers are down about three million total viewers from Pres. Obama’s Not State of the Union last February. The cable news numbers will be in later this afternoon.

Here’s the full breakdown from TVByTheNumbers.com:

9:00 FOX State of the Union Address 3.6/10 9.74
ABC State of the Union Address 2.2/6 7.64
NBC State of the Union Address 1.8/5 7.15
CBS State of the Union Address 1.5/4 6.16
CW Life Unexpected (R) 0.6/2 1.43

10:00 FOX State of the Union Coverage 3.2/8 8.713
ABC State of the Union Coverage 2.1/6 7.18
NBC State of the Union Coverage 2.0/5 7.23
CBS State of the Union Coverage 1.6/4 6.10

10:30 FOX Analysis/Various 2.0/6 5.85
NBC Analysis/The Office (R) 1.3/4 4.41
ABC Analysis/Cougar Town (R) 1.1/3 4.09
CBS Analysis/Two and a Half Men (R) 1.0/3 4.23

Update: ABC’s actual ratings were 8.19 million for the speech, start-to-finish. More are coming…

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Perils Of URL-Shortening: Major Garrett’s Inadvertent Link To Softcore Porn

Fox News White House Correspondent Major Garrett was trying to tweet his followers a link to his FoxNews.com blog with some State of the Union excerpts prior to the speech last night.

Instead he tweeted a link for hookers in Vegas. It’s just one example of the dangers of URL-shortening.

So let’s break this down. The actual link, which he tweeted immediately after was to: http://bit.ly/d6WZBu. But as Gawker points out, the original tweet was to http://bit.ly/d6W. And that brought a link to ForWant.com’s Vegas classifieds section for “erotic services.” Yeah. Here’s what happened next:

I apologize. Bit.ly turned my original link to SOTU excerpts to a soft-porn link. NOT my intention. http://bit.ly/d6WZBu

The link just posted works. Any frequent visitor here knows that is not my style. Sorry. Shld have caught it sooner.

For those suckling snide syrup. I publicly acknowledged an innocent mistake and corrected it. If that’s not good enuf, take a hike.

Gawker was part of those “suckling snide syrup,” as they are wont to do. But it’s clear what happened. Garrett wanted to tweet this bit.ly, “http://bit.ly/d6WZBu,” but mistakenly deleted the last three characters and got diverted somewhere very different. Obviously, in this particular case it looks much worse (because it’s to a sex website). But what would have happened if he mistakenly deleted the last two characters instead?

He would have directed his followers to an All140.com site about Joe Wilson (newsy-ish?):

Or how about just one character deleted? It’s Fashionista.com!:

And if he deleted four characters, it would have been a password-protected page of some Swedish digital agency:

Anyway, no harm no foul, Major. Happens to everyone. But just another reminder to edit your tweets, and especially check those shortened links, before sending them out to the masses.

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Palin Pans President: Uninspired Lecture And Government ‘Mandation’

Newly minted Fox News contributor Sarah Palin went live last night with Sean Hannity, providing her off-the-cuff reactions to the State of the Union speech. What did we learn? That she thought the President’s speech was an uninspired lecture; that either Obama or Justice Alito was being disingenuous; and that Americans didn’t like Obama’s health care reform because of the government takeover and “mandation.” No, that’s not a real common word.

Critics of Palin have pointed out that most, if not all, of her television appearances have been taped, allowing for post-production editors to remove any embarrassing flubs. However, last night’s live back-and-forth with conservative host Sean Hannity was a relatively safe environment for the former Governor to opine without a net, so to speak.

Palin acquitted herself reasonably well, though her remarks were more rambling than pithy. And the only real flub was the use of the word “mandation” instead of “mandate,” which proves nothing more than — shocker — Palin is actually not a perfect human being. That said, Palin’s comments sure felt like the Republican reaction, which I am sure was not lost on her and her advisers. Some highlights:

When asked about the moment in which Obama sternly rebuked the Supreme Court and Samuel Alito’s apparent response of “not true,” Palin offered:

I saw it Sean, I tell ya, this is why people are disenchanted and becoming more and more disengaged really from what their government is doing because when we see an issue like this, words spoken that may not be true, coming from our president, and embarrassing our Supreme Court and not respecting the separation of powers, we have a problem and that’s illustrated there by that justice there mouthing those words, ‘not true,’ now one or the other is being disingenuous here, either our president in what he just claimed or the Supreme Court justice…and I think its going to be a huge take away moment from the speech tonight.

When Hannity asked Palin to comment on Obama’s discussion of health care, specifically asking “he almost sounded as if, we the American people, we’re sort of out touch we are not understanding him,” Palin replied:

Since August more Americans have paid more attention to the bill and more Americans are becoming more concerned. it hadn’t been a matter of he not being able to explain his policy with government take over and mandation of health care, but Americans understanding what is in there not liking it and sending that message via the three recent republican sweeps in Virginia, New Jersey, Scott Brown’s election too and the Tea Party movements the town halls, people sending that message to the president mainly health care being the focus on this, he not understanding that we don’t want to see government take over of 1/6 of our economy.

Update: Mediaite commenter “sarainitaly” notes that “mandation” is in fact a word, at least according to Healthcare for the Uninsured: Is Mandation the Answer? It is, however, not very common and there is very little evidence to support its general acceptance.

Video below: