John Fund disputed the assertion of a correlation between "the approval ratings of [President] Bush [and] the ratings of Fox News" by baselessly claiming that "Bush's ratings are up, and Fox [News]'s ratings are down." In fact, while Fox News ratings are indeed down, so are President Bush's.
On the October 3 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country, Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund disputed producer/director Robert Greenwald's assertion of a correlation between "the approval ratings of [President] Bush [and] the ratings of Fox News" by baselessly claiming that "Bush's ratings are up, and Fox [News]'s ratings are down." In fact, while Fox News' ratings are indeed down, the two most recent polls, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted September 30-October 2, and a CNN poll conducted September 29-October 2, both showed President Bush's approval rating declining from 42 percent to 39 percent. Moreover, Bush's approval rating in those polls is no better than a year ago.
Both polls were released prior to the live 9 p.m. broadcast of Scarborough Country. Wall Street Journal reporter John Harwood wrote about the "decline in Mr. Bush's job approval rating to 39% from 42% earlier this month" in the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll on the Wall Street Journal Online at 7:19 p.m. Host Joe Scarborough cited a question from "[a] new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that just came out tonight" at the top of the show. CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider reported on the 4 p.m. ET broadcast of the October 3 edition of CNN's The Situation Room that "[a] CNN poll taken this weekend shows President Bush's job approval rating is 39 percent, slightly lower than last week."
Fund's assertion that "Fox [News]'s ratings are down," however, is correct. As the Associated Press reported on October 1, "[v]iewership over the first eight months of the year was down 5 percent compared to 2005, with a steeper 13 percent decline in prime-time, according to Nielsen Media Research." By comparison, Bush's approval rating in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll was 40 percent in September 2005 and 39 percent in October 2005. Bush's approval rating in the CNN poll was 40 percent in a September 16-18, 2005, sample and 42 percent in an October 21-23, 2005, sample.
From the October 3 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country:
FUND: This is the number one news network. It has double the viewers of CNN. How can that be a disaster?
SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, and if it's --
FUND: Look, the Internet is the threat -- the Internet is the threat to cable news. More and more people are going to the Internet. That's what all of the cable channels have to watch for, because it's a lot easier to avoid commercials and ads on the Internet.
GREENWALD: Take the ratings -- take the ratings, approval ratings of Bush, take the ratings of Fox News, and there's a wonderful graph connection between the two of them. It's folly to deny that they are not in freefall. I mean, [Fox News chairman and CEO Roger] Ailes is accepting it. That's why he's raising hell and going about doing something.
SCARBOROUGH: John Fund, why are the ratings down?
FUND: Bush's ratings are up, and Fox's ratings are down, so I don't see any correlation this past month or so. It doesn't track.
Look, the bottom line here is, cable news has a challenge from the Internet. And I have to tell you, as for the management styles of Roger Ailes, Joe, you went from one of the industries that has, I think, permanent job tenure, Congress, to television. You know the suits can fire you if they don't like your haircut. That's television. Everyone does that.
SCARBOROUGH: It is -- it is -- listen, Roger Ailes, he can run my campaign any day of the week.