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In yet another major AP piece on Keith Olbermann, David Bauder hails KO as "the latest media point-person in the nation's political divide".
Since that first commentary, Olbermann's nightly audience has increased 69 percent, according to Nielsen Media Research. This past Monday 834,000 people tuned in, virtually double his season average and more than CNN competitors Paula Zahn and Nancy Grace. Cable kingpin and Olbermann nemesis Bill O'Reilly (two million viewers that night) stands in his way.
Olbermann's audience has increased since August. So, why not just deal straight up with readers? Simple. They can't. (for more on why I would direct you to our rather thorough exegesis on the truth about Olbermann's actual ratings from earlier today)
Olbermann has flirted with the #2 spot for a day or two in the past and always fallen back to #3 (or even #4 or #5). Keith is experiencing a spike in ratings but this kind of thing has happened before - in the weeks before the 2004 election, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, when MSNBC was broadcasting parts of the Winter Olympics - and KO has never proven his ability to retain those audiences.
As is typical of the MSM coverage of Olbermann, Bauder makes the most extreme comparison possible (the always low ratings week before Labor Day weekend v. the largest ratings night ever for Countdown) in order to hype Keith as much as possible. Bauder's piece is just one of hundreds of such articles from the MSM going back to 2003 and, as we have noted previously, if KO were to ever live up the exaggerated claims he would have numbers in the "Survivor" or "American Idol" range.
With these MSM KO Bandwagon articles it is always important to check them numbers. My calculator shows Bauder using the L+S data so loved by MSNBC and TVNewser to come up with 834,000 viewers on Monday October 2nd. I have no idea what number he is using to arrive at 69% since there is no L+S data from August that, used as a benchmark, gives that percentage increase. The closest is the L+S ratings for August 30th (484,000) which comes out to 72%. Of course, the dog not barking here is that there is no mention of the "all important" 25-54 "money demo". As regular readers know, the lefty TCA-MSNBC axis has spent much of the past year telling anyone who will listen that TOTAL viewers "don't matter" and all that the networks care about is "the demo". Suddenly, when KO pulls a number edging close to 1 million total viewers the "demo" is out and total viewers is back in. Sheesh! Could these guys be any more transparent?
Keen-eyed (and eared) OlbyWatch readers will recall that a few days ago Keith referenced Locke's Second Treatise on Government on Countdown. Now, to the AP, he references Justice Holmes' dissent in Abrams:
"The purpose of this is to get people to think and supply the marketplace of ideas with something at every fruit stand, something of every variety," he said. "As an industry, only half the fruit stand has been open the last four years."
Sounds familiar? Yep, Keith has been reading OlbyWatch again! Of course, this is hardly the first time Keith has gleaned material from Olbermann Watch - this time from my Op-Ed in the Fort-Worth Star Telegram which I linked to this site three weeks ago. It surely won't be the last. Not that we begrudge Keith pilfering our ideas - after all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
There was another line in the article that caught my eye:
Early in his second tenure at MSNBC, Olbermann said he wanted to do a segment on whether some of the more heroic elements of former POW Jessica Lynch's rescue were exaggerated. He was told by NBC News executives that he had to balance it with a commentary by conservative radio host Michael Savage, and he refused. He was prepared to walk, he said, but it never came to that.
I have been digging around - and I know it is out there somewhere - but in a previous interview Keith said that as a condition of his return to MSNBC he was not required to "balance" a segment by having guests with competing points of view on Countdown. Now Keith is telling Bauder a different story - that AFTER joining MSNBC for the second time he stood up to NBC News executives and after his display of bravado they backed down and he has been doing the show his way (sans guests who disagree with Keith) ever since. If you can find the quote ping me and I will post an update.
NOTE: Over the weekend we had a Welcome AP Readers post up where we noted that Olbermann Watch received a prominent mention in Bauder's piece. Although I am taking issue with the piece as part of our ongoing MSM KO Bandwagon series, the article is pretty good over all. Bauder obviously did his homework and spent a good deal of time looking at the "Olbermann Wars" in the blogs. So, while I am ripping him a bit, I'd have to say this one of the better articles on Keith in a while.
UPDATE: This site offers a textbook example of why it matters when AP and USA TODAY and others play fast and loose with KO's ratings:
In just over a month, since MSNBC's Keith Olbermann began a blistering attack on the Bush administration, his ratings have soared 69 percent, the Associated Press observed Monday, citing figures from Nielsen Media Research. According to A.P., the sudden rise in Olbermann's audience -- it now exceeds CNN's Paula Zahn in the time period but amounts for less than half of FNC's Bill O'Reilly -- can be traced to his Countdown commentary following Donald Rumsfeld's speech equating Iraq War opponents to pre-World War II appeasers.
As we noted above, the "sudden rise" of "69%" is based on picking a real low number and comparing it to a single night that was a distinct ratings anamoly for Keith which was driven primarily off of the then-breaking Foley scandal. And Keith only beat Zahn on that one night. But how can the uninformed reader possibly be expected to discern the truth when the author cites unimpeachable sources like "Nielsen Media Research" and the "Associated Press" and the piece does not bother to explain how that number was calculated. After all, why would AP want to inflate Keith's numbers?