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The Statistical Irrelevance of Cable News

Written by Gary North on August 20, 2016

Every month, Matt Drudge’s site gets about a billion page views.

On August 19, Drudge posted a link to an article on the fact that Rachel Maddow has tied Megyn Kelly’s show in recent days. We read this:

MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show virtually tied Fox News’ Kelly File in the key 25-54 demographic on Wednesday, the third time this month in which Maddow has tied or beaten Megyn Kelly’s show in the all-important demo as MSNBC viewership has risen steadily through the summer.

While Megyn Kelly is on vacation from hosting duties, Kelly’s 9 p.m. primetime show drew 401,000 viewers in the demo Wednesday night, and Maddow’s MSNBC show drew 400,000, according to Adweek‘s Scoreboard.

Two words come to mind: “So what?”

In round numbers, there are 115 million households in the United States. Therefore, also in round numbers, there are 225 million adults.

Are we supposed to believe that either Ms. Maddow or Ms. Kelly has any significant influence, or even marginal relevance, for the American body politic, or body anything else? Yet Breitbart ran an article on this ratings tie.

Why?

Because it’s news. It’s irrelevant, but it’s news.

The audiences of Ms. Maddow and Ms. Kelly offset each other. In the grand scheme of things, this reality is drowned out by background noise. Even if they reinforced each other, we could not hear them. They would still be background noise.

They make good livings fronting for advertisers. I am sure each of them is happy for every pair of eyes that stares at some screen. Each pair of eyes is money in the bank. But why the rest of us are supposed to care baffles me.

In the ratings war, may the best woman win. It’s a real horse race. But the track might as well be in Burundi.

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