Why it is important to be accurate as a pundit

The US elections taught me a great deal…they taught me to look at the math, and to remove emotion from punditry…unfortunately many, many pundits in the US failed to learn that lesson and now they are being treated to ratings downgrades not unlike the so-called fiscal cliff.

You can still show bias…but you should call things as they are despite your bias…calling things as they are doesn’t make you a traitor to your cause. It makes you honest.

In the case of Hannity and a few others, the cliff and the fall off of the top after they called the election so wrong is real:

In a fitting coda to 2012, we’ve learned that the ratings for rock-ribbed conservative Sean Hannity cratered after Barack Obama won his second term, with viewers tuning out the Fox News Channel talk-show host in droves.

According to Nielsen numbers, Hannity lost around half of his audience in the weeks after the election, while his Fox News colleague Bill O’Reilly — who steadfastly refuses to identify himself politically as a conservative — retained around 70% of his audience.

So what happened to Hannity?

Put simply, he got things so wrong that no one believes a word he says…and they are switching off.

The going wisdom is that viewers who basked in his preelection anti-Obama rhetoric tuned him out when they were stunned to wake up on Nov. 7 and discover that the President had won a second term — a scenario that Hannity had all but promised could never happen.

Before the election, Hannity was riding high in the ratings and topped thought leaders on the right, like Dick Morris, Ann Coulter, Peggy Noonan and talk radio bulldog Mark Levin, who predicted Obama would lose in a landslide.

Those voices — and many others like them — all but drove the political coverage on Fox News, talk radio and conservative blogs.

But as Conor Friedersdorf wrote in The Atlantic just after the election, “Outside the conservative media, the narrative was completely different.”

Because in reality, statistics proved the presidential race was in fact never even close — despite the lopsided picture delivered to faithful viewers by Hannity and those who shared his opinions.

Many people here also believed the echo chamber that Fox News became. Some still do…but many have abandoned the pundits who called it so wrong, especially Hannity.

Wrote Friedersdorf: “The right-leaning outlets like Fox News and Rush Limbaugh’s show are far more intellectually closed than CNN or public radio. If you’re a rank-and-file conservative, you’re probably ready to acknowledge that ideologically friendly media didn’t accurately inform you about Election 2012. Some pundits engaged in wishful thinking; others feigned confidence in hopes that it would be a self-fulfilling prophecy; still others decided it was smart to keep telling right-leaning audiences what they wanted to hear.”

And when the dust settled, it turns out Hannity’s viewers opted to vote again — with their remotes.

Adding insult to injury, two of Hannity’s rivals on MSNBC, Ed Schultz and Rachel Maddow, held onto huge chunks of their audiences, while at CNN, far less politically polarizing host Anderson Cooper lost almost none of his viewers postelection.

It got even worse for Hannity in the “money demo” of viewers 25-54, who are prized by advertisers.

With this group, Hannity held onto less than half his preelection audience. O’Reilly, on the other hand, kept almost 70%.

And through the early part of December, Maddow actually beat Hannity in the coveted group — a shocking turn, because until the election, Hannity was unassailable by any of his rivals, at least in terms of ratings.

Fox will recover but they need to get with some reality.


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  • Gazzaw

    The same happened here to Leighton Smith I believe, although he wouldn’t have lost his listenership as a result given the lack of an intelligent alternative programme. Leighton attracts a conservative (by NZ standards) audience, however, his endless banging on about Romney and his at times petty & personal criticisms of Obama (unusual for Leighton) gave me cause to ‘turn off’ whenever he was talking about the US elections. I doubt whether I will fully trust his overview of US politics again particularly given the magnitude of the defeat handed out to the Reps. All the signs were there but Leighton just like his US counterparts was blinded by his political bias. It maybe a lesson for him and he will widen his sources to include centrists in his pool in the future.

    • Still waiting for my lunch…could be in the next week or so though

      • Gazzaw

        Contra at Sails?

  • Once again Whale, in his usual haste to trash Conservatives, reprints left wing propaganda from the commie media. The New York Daily News is one of the most far left publications out there.

    There’s no evidence to support the assertion that predictions of a Romney win are the reason Hannity’s audience dropped off. In fact I don’t think he ever made any such predictions. Or not to any superfluous degree.

    This is just left wing crap from the usual left wing propaganda sources, and as usual it finds ready acceptance in the fake self professed “right wing” NZ blogosphere, in reality a collection of uninformed liberal/ progressive stooges who are so easily manipulated by the left they’re practically useless as a political force.

    • Ronnie Chow

      If you don’t watch Fox news , which you have derided , then you wouldn’t know , would you ?

      Sean Predicts Who Will Win Presidential Race
      An energized Sean took the Hannity airwaves this afternoon – less than 24 hours before Americans begin to cast their vote for the forty fifth president of the United States. “Anyone nervous?” Sean said jokingly. “I’m not. I am not nervous. I am actually as cool as a cucumber…I’m at peace. It’s about you, the voter, it’s not about me or this show. I’ve always had faith in the American people. I have always been inspired by all of you and we’re going to end up with the government that we deserve. Whatever happens, we will survive. But I expect in the next day or two that I will wake up and hear the words ‘Fox News projects Governor Mitt Romney will be the forty fifth president of the United States of America,” Sean predicted. There you have it, Sean’s Election Day prediction.

    • Ronnie Chow

      The viewers of “Hannity” on Fox News listened all fall as the host relentlessly attacked President Obama while guest conservative-entertainment celebrities like Dick Morris, Ann Coulter and Peggy Noonan waxed eloquent on Mitt Romney’s momentum and predicted his election as our 45th president.

      It was an insular world, and it came apart on Nov. 6. Barack Obama won by nearly 5 million votes and Mitt Romney was left with 47 percent.

      Bill O’Reilly or Father Christmas? Getty Images

      In the days after, according to Nielsen ratings, Hannity’s nightly audience plummeted to 1.95 million. He lost nearly 50 percent of his viewers, more than 50 percent in the coveted 25-54 age group.

      • The so called “Mitt-mentum” never eventuated…it was a figment of the fevered minds of people like Redbaiter who still can;t believe that Barack Obama won.

        • Idiot. I have never ever predicted a win to Romney, who is just another John Key type progressive/ liberal loser anyway, and it wouldn’t have mattered fuck all if he had won.

          In fact I predicted an Obama win-


          The collusion of the Democrats and the Republicans is the problem in the US, just as it is in NZ, and Romney like John Key, would have just been more of the same socialist bullshit.

          • Ronnie Chow

            Man , you’re in a different world . You are completely unhappy with everything . The world is all Socialist ,full of fucking gregarious human beings who actually give a fuck about each other ?

            So , as you have information that we don’t have access to , “This is just left wing crap from the usual left wing propaganda sources ” why did Hannity’s ratings drop ?

          • You claim it was because of his predictions- prove it or STFU.

          • Ronnie Chow

            Why did Hannity’s ratings drop ?

          • Ronnie Chow

            Because everything he said was hysterical bullshit . Just like YOU , Redbaiter.

          • Fuck you are a bullshitter…reposting a cut paste job from someone else does not a prediction make. Not only that you persist with the Birther nonsense ..there is none so foolish as a moron believing in conspiracy theories.

            As I said…as deep as a carpark puddle

    • Ronnie Chow

      “In fact I don’t think he ever made any such predictions”

      Well , you are a fucking peanut head , aren’t you ?

  • Michael

    In politics, it’s best to be honest (but not necessarily upfront) – look at how Shearer twisted himself into knots over John Key’s visit to the GCSB when Key should have been the one on the spot – Key was consistent and honest, but Shearer had to keep changing. his story to eventually “All we are doing is asking the question”.

    John Banks evasive behaviour with the media over the Dotcom donation saga – he should have just said, “I have no comment on the matter at this time.”

    Phil Goff looked like an idiot over his claim that he wasn’t briefed by the SIS and then kept blustering when corroborative evidence that he was briefed was uncovered. Bill English ended his leadership by releasing and retracting a media statement – the infamous “Af-gaffe”.

    Helen Clark, on the other hand, was a master at it – when she wanted to shut a story down she refused to comment and declared it was time to move on. After a while it became ineffective as people say through it as a tool to bury bad news, but it worked for two or three years.

  • Blair Mulholland

    This doesn’t surprise me. I haven’t watched Hannity since either. He had too many folk on like Dick Morris, who were spouting garbage, although I recall even Hannity didn’t believe what Morris was saying. There is a belief out there that a lot of people got lied to, although personally I reject that. A lot of smart people were predicting a Romney win, and for perfectly good reasons. But it’s hard to recover reputations from being wrong about something that big, even if those calls were reasonable ones to make.
    Obama’s machine was simply light years better – he found votes out there that weren’t thought to exist, and he got people to the polls, something Romney utterly failed to do. I still don’t think that makes Nate Silver as smart as he was lucky.