1/6/09 1:05 PM

Mythbusting Update: The Fox News Audience

Two months ago, when Fox haters erupted over the hiring of Howard Wolfson, we repeatedly heard a common smear:

Democrats can pretend that there are "independents" watching Fox News, but the data is clear -- it is the most reliably Republican outlet in the nation.
Our analysis shot down that canard. The numbers showed that more Democrats watched Fox News than either MSNBC or CNN. But Pew has a new poll out with a slightly different breakdown in news channel viewership, and of course ratings always fluctuate. So it's time to update our analysis to see if FNC still has the most "fair and balanced" audience.

We go first to the latest findings from the Pew Research Center, whose work is respected throughout the media. Their annual survey of cable news audiences now shows:
  • FNC: 39% Republican, 33% Democratic, 22% Independent
  • CNN: 18% Republican, 51% Democratic, 23% Independent
  • MSNBC: 18% Republican, 45% Democratic, 27% Independent
Compared to last year, all three channels have a slight uptick in their Democratic precentage, while CNN shows a 4% drop in its GOP audience. Now we correlate the new Pew findings with the latest primetime quarterly cable news ratings, issued on October 1:
  • FNC: 2,198,000 viewers
  • CNN: 1,342,000 viewers
  • MSNBC: 867,000 viewers
Breaking these down according to the percentages reported by Pew, we find the following:
  • FNC: 857,000 Republicans
  • CNN: 242,000 Republicans
  • MSNBC: 156,000 Republicans
  • FNC: 725,000 Democrats
  • CNN: 684,000 Democrats
  • MSNBC: 390,000 Democrats
  • FNC: 484,000 Independents
  • CNN: 309,000 Independents
  • MSNBC: 234,000 Independents
As in our previous report, we relied on the primetime audience ratings. This time we'll also do the math with total day viewership to see if the patterns still hold:
  • FNC: 438,000 Republicans
  • CNN: 128,000 Republicans
  • MSNBC: 85,000 Republicans
  • FNC: 371,000 Democrats
  • CNN: 364,000 Democrats
  • MSNBC: 213,000 Democrats
  • FNC: 247,000 Independents
  • CNN: 164,000 Independents
  • MSNBC: 128,000 Independents
The results could not be more clear. In both total day and primetime, the Fox News audience is far more balanced ideologically than those of the other news channels. And once again, more Democrats watch FNC than either MSNBC or CNN.




Ashley
Thanks for the analysis J$.
October 5, 2008, 1:53:24 PM EDT – Like – Reply


puck30
What get's me about this poll is. Who is the 18% of Republicans That still watch MSLSD?
 
Must be the 'Sado-Masochist' wing of the party.
October 5, 2008, 2:11:56 PM EDT – Like – Reply


Cecelia
Good job, Johnny!
 
Generally what you hear from anti-FNC Dems is that the Democrats who watch FNC are not really Democrats. They are conservative Democrats or Dems in name only.
 
But for the political party affiliation of FNC's audience to be as balanced is it is--- balanced in the way that the other cable channels' watchers are NOT--- reflects some sort of radicalized audience for MSNBC and CNN.
 
If you argue that all Republicans are radical partisans and FNC appeals to THAT group, then you have to wonder how FNC appeals to ANY sort of person who labels themselves as being a Democrat ( they wouldn't to the more conservative sort of Democratic Leadership Council Dems or even to Blue Dog Dems), let alone how FNC appeals to what is ALMOST an equal number of Dems as Republicans.
 
It's just not a logical argument. The numbers reflect that CNN and MSNBC appeal to a far more partisan political audience than does FNC.
October 5, 2008, 4:01:46 PM EDT – Like – Reply


Fox Fan
I think that would make them masochistic more than sadistic, it's the MSNBC hosts that are sadists.  
 
I prefer to leave pain out of it, even though my girlfriend likes it when I pull her hair.
October 5, 2008, 4:08:44 PM EDT – Like – Reply


vstol
Johnny,
 
There is one serious flaw in your analysis..........you failed to take into consideration that.....
 
Fox haters do not care about facts and are unfamiliar with objectivity.
October 5, 2008, 7:22:57 PM EDT – Like – Reply


timzank
vstol is correct. The deranged left will not believe anything, be it facts or not. As a conservative, i could mention the building is on fire (when it's actually flaming) and they'd look at me angrily and say Karl Rove made it up, until they burn to death of course.
October 5, 2008, 8:27:58 PM EDT – Like – Reply


tony
Since when have liberals ever let facts get in the way of their opinions.
October 5, 2008, 8:38:30 PM EDT – Like – Reply


Interloper
But Johnny, couldn't you take those same statistics and say that Democrats watch news stations equally without bias, but Repubs flock to FNC because it agrees to their agenda.
October 6, 2008, 9:56:12 AM EDT – Like – Reply


johnny dollar
I prefer to phrase it that the other stations repel Republicans because of their perceived bias.
October 6, 2008, 9:59:04 AM EDT – Like – Reply