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    Olbermann Watch, "persecuting" Keith since 2004

    May 22, 2006
    Methinks TVNewser Doth Protest Too Much

    Apparently my recent post, A word on ratings and the "25-54" demo hype struck a nerve with Brian Stelter over at TVNewser who writes "to suggest that I'm motivated by ideology or influence by certain cable news channels is offensive, baseless, and wrong" and asserts "I am not a liberal activist" and "I don't do anything "at the behest of executives at MSNBC."

    Well, I'm sorry that Brian is "offended" but the facts speak for themselves.

    When he writes "I am not a liberal activist", is Stelter denying that he picketed outside the headquarters of Sinclair Broadcast Group to protest their decision not to air a controversial episode of Nightline? Is he denying that he wrote about his protest and published photos of his activities on his blog?

    When he writes "I don't do anything "at the behest of executives at MSNBC", is Stelter denying that he removed a post linking to Olbermann Watch "at the behest" of MSNBC executives who were upset that he linked to a post commenting on email exchange between Keith Olbermann and a producer for Tribune Broadcasting?

    When he writes "I do not despise Fox News" does that mean he is disowning the myriad examples of anti-Fox News Channel commentary on his site? One does not need to look hard to find regular attacks against Fox News' most popular host, Bill O'Reilly, approving links to liberal bloggers who attack Fox News and the publication of "reader emails" attacking Fox News.

    It is hardly worth debating that Brian is a liberal and that his blog is replete with anti-FNC posts. So how about the reasons he offers for focusing on the 24-54 demo?

    By way of rebuttal to the phrase "at the behest of executives at MSNBC" Brian writes "I've talked to MSNBC president Rick Kaplan twice in the last nine months, and we didn't talk about ratings (or Olbermann) on either occasion" and later adds "I started emphasizing demo data at the end of 2005 as I gradually learned that the cable news nets simply do not care about total viewers" and "They (executives at MSNBC, CNBC and CNN) measure success or failure based on the demo, so I do, too"

    Let's take a look at these statements.

    It is irrelevant how many times he spoke with Rick Kaplan in the last "9 months" because I did not write "at the behest of Rick Kaplan". I have no idea how "9 months" figures into his thinking but he pulled that figure out of thin air. More to the point, there are more executives at MSNBC than just Rick Kaplan including Keith Olbermann who holds a corporate title beyond "news anchor". I know for a fact that Stelter has done things at Keith's "behest" so the statement is true regardless of his interactions with Kaplan. That he spoke to Kaplan twice does not preclude Stelter from doing something at the behest of Kaplan or anyone else at MSNBC but either way I never mentioned Kaplan in the first place. In other words, Kaplan is a "red herring".

    At to whether Stelter began to focus on "the demo" at the behest of MSNBC, Stelter admits he has changed how he reported ratings information so at least we agree on that point. He says he "gradually learned" that the cable news nets only care about the demo and then cites "execs like" Jon Klein at CNN and Jeff Zucker and Mark Hoffman at CNBC. In other words, he cites executives from also-ran cable new networks at NBC Universal and Time-Warner.

    When Stelter says he "gradually learned" about "the demo" how did he "learn" this and who was his "teacher". I'd say referencing Kaplan, Klein, Zucker and Hoffman otherwise known as "ABF" or "anyone but Fox" only proves my point that Brian has been influenced by executives at the also-ran cable news networks to shift away from reporting the "ratings "race" in a way that favored Fox News Channel. Ironically, the "demo ratings race" STILL favors Fox News Channel but allows TVNewser to portray the ratings race as "competitive". Of course, even this does not explain TVN's post from early May; Fox News won (again) the "demo" but is not even mentioned:

    "TUESDAY, MAY 02 - April #'s: Olbermann #2, Grace #3, Zahn #4 At 8pm In The 25-54 Demo."

    More to the point, Stelter is ignoring the fact that his change in reporting just happened to coincide with efforts at MSNBC and CNN to discourage straight-up ratings comparisons at instead stress the "demo" in their promotional efforts. Just to be clear, I am not alleging that Stelter is engaged in some active conspiracy with MSNBC. I'd prefer to belief that it simply a matter of a young guy being co-opted by various executives who picked up on his liberal, anti-FNC bias and exploited that in order to use TVNewser has part of a broader campaign to redefine "success" in the cable news ratings race by getting media watchers and TV critics to focus on a demographic where they were not as far behind.

    My concern with Brian went along with it and TVNewser is now the primary outlet in the blogosphere advancing this "demo ratings race" which is then picked up on by other liberal bloggers and used to advance the absurd notion that Keith Olbermann has been a "success" at MSNBC.

    If nothing else my 2,630 word post (I did not count but I am willing to take Brian's word that he did) was worth it to hear Brian post something TVN readers have never heard before. Stelter closes by noting "Fox News Channel usually wins every hour, every daypart, every day, in every category of viewership."

    Well, that's a start!

    Posted by Robert Cox | Permalink | Comments (12) | | View blog reactions


    Do you have anything better to do with your life?

    You mean other than being right all the time? No.

    Nice diversionary tactic David. I'm sure Nonfactor will be along to say something similar.

    These denials ar just precious. When I went to TVNewser, I went with an open mind. After reading it for a while, it became clear that MSLSD was a pet project and Olbermann was the guy's pal. Inane Olby items and pro-Olby data are all the moron reports, even when Olby is LAST IN THE RATINGS > 90% of the time. If another site posted ratings, I wouldn't care, but I am FORCED TO THAT SITE to get ratings. If the guy wants to be left alone, he should share his data with Olbywatch. I don't want to read his crap if I don't have to.


    Excellent points, as always.

    Riddle me this David, where do think TVN is getting all of their ratings data?

    Amazingly, KO is dead last in the 9AM time slot as well. Probably has something to do with everyone else broadcasting live news instead of a 13 hour old rerun of a show doing the same stories every night. But its interesting that MSNBC has decided to go that route. In fact, most of their daytime programming now is 30 minute taped stories from the mother ship, often as not ones that broadcast on the Today show in the morning. MSNBC seems to be turning away from a news network into the TV equivalent of a blog. Rehashing other people's stories, seemingly without doing any research of their own. It seems as if the entire network is without focus.

    In fact I think the only shows they have that actually "break" news are Abrams and (I can't believe I'm going to say this) Rita. The rest of the network seems to be just re-reporting the same stories hour by hour, day after day. In that, I guess the Countdown rerun fits perfectly in the schedule.

    I would like to see how KO's ratings are compared the the 9-10 news they had on. Also, any idea how KO does compared to Imus's last hour?


    Where can we access these ratings data ourselves ( Other the TVN ) especially the obscure stuff, like how Olby does at 9AM against the competitition. I've asked this before many times. Never any response.


    Let me check around. I can probably develop a source for the ratings data but I'm not sure I am prepared to commit to doing the work of gathering, posting and commenting on it. If there is anyone willing to become an OW contributor/ratings guru I'd like to hear from you.

    As for the specific 9 AM Olby data...I ought to be able to get a hold of that. I believe TVNewser has put out the usual spin version of the data (i.e., limiting the data to the demo, ignoring FNC ratings - at least initially, etc.)

    Just read TVNewsers claim that the demo is all that matters. If that is true, then CNN and MSNBC need to switch formats. The news is not a "young people's" game. The "demo" figures for CNN and MSNBC are abysmal. Reruns of "Deal or No Deal" do better than their "news" programming. Spongebob repeats crush them in the ratings.

    Seems to me that the execs at the losing network are trying to reinvent the way ratings are analyzed to dupe advertisers into paying for minimal exposure. Let's make a sports analogy:

    If you are an awful coach and you lose every basketball game by thirty points, you can try a roster change or you can stop looking at the total number of points and try to focus on something else. Perhaps you will focus on the total number of three pointers made, and claim fans love three pointers and that is all that matters! Forget the fact that we lost by fifty -- we had ten three pointers! Yahoo!

    Or maybe you like tennis. So you lose every match, but you had ten aces! Ten aces and people LOVE aces! There ya go!

    I do not doubt that CNN and MSLSD execs shield their eyes when the totals are presented. They are trying to keep their jobs. Now, if total numbers don't matter, why does CNN claim "greatest world-wide viewership"? I mean, they LOVE to crow about CNN International! In fact, TVNEWSER LOVES TO CROW ABOUT CNN INTERNATIONAL:


    "CNN Worldwide Brings In More Than Twice As Much Revenue As Fox News"

    FNC beats CNN/U.S. in the ratings, but how do the two brands compare where it really counts -- money?

    In today's USAT, Jim Walton says: "CNN Worldwide brings in more than twice as much revenue as Fox News -- I'm just going to say the 'F' word. Our goal is to deliver more news to more people in more places across more platforms than any other news organization in the world. We're able to deliver the shareholder value."


    The goal is to "deliver more news to more people in more places across more platforms than any other news organization in the world"? Don't they mean:

    "Our goal is to deliver more news to more people in more places across more platforms than any other news organization in the world in the 25-54 demo only and anyone older than 54 is irrelevant as the ratings should reflect only the demo and not the older or younger people in the International Community."

    Regime change is required at CNN, MSLSD and TVNEWSER.


    Your comment is a model for all commenters. You make your point and back it up with direct quotes, know... facts.

    Once you understand the TVN agenda its pretty easy to follow the game.

    Next for some "counter-programming" over at TVN - a post or two on how great Fox News is doing....just to be able to claim that TVN is "fair and balanced".

    Mr. Cox, KFK

    Great posts.

    I received an email pointing out this May 15th post on TVN

    Question For The Broadcast Networks

    "The White House has carefully executed a series of leaks previewing President Bush's "address to the nation" tonight on immigration. Why, then, have you handed over prime time for it?

    We know he's going to temporarily deploy 6,000 troops on the border, possibly for political gain; we know he's going to say "we do not have full control of the border," according to leaks timed for the evening newscasts; and we know he's going to call on Congress to provide more funding. What more are we going to know at 8:20 p.m., other than a sound bite?

    You've already covered it for three days, and you'll cover it again on the morning shows. Why do these pronouncements deserve roadblock coverage in primetime? "

    The reader writes: "Maybe it's just me, but this struck me as an extraordinary post for someone who is supposedly all about television news. Is there any reason for TVNewser to post this, calling for the networks NOT to cover a news event, other than his own political agenda?"

    That is a pretty dumb statement. People should see and hear their President. The same nuts who scream "Bush is in a bubble!" want to put their fingers in their ears and scream "LA LA LA LA LA" whenever he speaks. Let's get access to ratings and leave the little Olbyite to his own devices.