I wrote an earlier post about how President Bush is a uniter, and many commenters scoffed at the notion. Nonetheless, what lessons do you think politicians can learn from the inauguration ratings of the various cable news stations? (Link perishable.)

CNN LOSES 63% OF AUDIENCE OVER INAUGURATION 2001 Fri Jan 21 2005 23:52:24 2005

CNN hemorrhaged more than half their audience from the 2001 Inauguration, overnights show. The troubled news network only averaged 779,000 viewers during yesterday's Inauguration coverage from 10am-4pm with just 168,000 of those viewers landing in the coveted 25-54 demo.

Like CNN, MSNBC also suffered major losses, only averaging 438,000 viewers throughout yesterday's coverage (141,000 in 25-54), down a whopping 68% over 2001 and faring even worse in primetime with just 385,000 viewers.

In contrast, Fox News averaged 2,581,000 viewers from 10a-4p (up 30% over 2001) and their 25-54 demo average of 705,000 came close to CNN's total coverage ratings yesterday.

PRIMETIME:

FNC -- 2,439,000 (up 57% OVER '01)
CNN -- 1,353,000 (down 14% over '01)
MSNBC -- 385,000 (down 47% over '01)

Developing...

Remember, President Bush had just narrowly defeated Al Gore in 2000, and that election was just as hotly contested as this one. There's no reason to believe that a higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats were watching this inauguration than the one in 2001, so how should the numbers be explained? (Considering that Fox News is seen as a Republican network and CNN is seen as a Democrat network.)

Perhaps politicians should take note of how their constituents spend their valuable time. Fox News is building viewership because people like the conservative slant. Why? Clearly because people are either becoming more conservative, or because the definition of "liberal" is shifting so far from the center that the term itself is abandoning the people it used to define. If the 20th century defeat of Communism demonstrated anything, it's that leaders ignore the wisdom of markets at their own peril.

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