Is The Trump-Fox Lovefest Creating A Ratings Surge For Both? It Sure Looks That Way

The president has seen his approval rating tick up in recent weeks. Meanwhile, Fox News has expanded its lead over its competition.

Despite all the chaos in the Trump administration, where each week feels like a year, and the appearance that the Mueller probe is closing in on the president and many of his associates, something seemingly unexpected has occurred — President Trump’s approval ratings have improved.

Perhaps due to a strong economy, the possibility of peace with North Korea — though that now seems very much in peril following Trump scuttling June’s summit — or the belief in Trump’s constant declarations that the Russia investigation is a “WITCH HUNT,” the president has seen his approval numbers surge to the mid-40s in recent weeks. According to HuffPost Pollster, Trump’s aggregate approval rating is at 45.3 percent, a four-point increase over the past five weeks. Per RealClearPolitics, the president is sitting at 43.8 percent. Recent surveys range from 41 percent to 49 percent.

Meanwhile, over the past few weeks, the president’s favorite cable news network has seen only good news when it comes to its television ratings. After witnessing rival MSNBC pull off some 25-54 demo victories at the beginning of 2018 and seeing MSNBC’s star Rachel Maddow take the top spot in March, Fox News has rattled off a series of ever-expanding victories in the cable news ratings war these last couple of months. (It should be noted that Fox News has consistently been the highest-rated cable news program for years now.)

Over the past nine weeks, Fox’s flagship primetime program — Hannity, hosted by fervent Trump loyalist Sean Hannity — has been the most-watched show in cable news. On top of that, it has topped the key demographic for five consecutive weeks. (Maddow led the demo during this year’s first quarter.) For the month of April, Hannity led cable news in both the demo and total viewers and will almost certainly again in May.

While Hannity has spent the better part of the past three years acting as a full-time surrogate for Donald Trump, he has ramped up his defenses of the president these past few weeks, if that is possible. Along with the Sean Hannity Expanded Universe, the Fox News host has been the key player in feeding the president the Deep State counternarrative to the Russia probe, something that has now resulted in Trump claiming the FBI and DOJ embedded a political spy in his presidential campaign to help Hillary Clinton and take him down.

But it isn’t like it’s just Hannity who is seeing big ratings wins. The Ingraham Angle, hosted by conservative firebrand and RNC speaker Laura Ingraham, recently enjoyed a week in which it defeated Maddow in the demo (To be fair, TRMS had a guest host two of those nights.) And despite dealing with controversy a couple of months ago with an advertiser boycott brought on by her mockery of Parkland survivor David Hogg, Ingraham has only seen her viewership grow since returning from vacation in April, experiencing a 16 percent growth.

Like Hannity, Ingraham is an ardent Trump supporter and defender, spending most of her program railing against his detractors, dismissing the Russia investigation, and promoting his policies and perceived successes. But, really, this pretty much describes the Fox News lineup as a whole.

Aside from their numerous straight news hosts, if you watch from Fox and Friends through Ingraham, you get a narrative-based broadcast that is essentially designed to please the president and his passionate supporters. And much of the time, you have Trump directly interacting with and impacting the network’s program.

How many days have we seen the president start his morning by sending off a series of tweets that were directly influenced by segments he watched on Fox and Friends? And how much has that eventually played into the day’s news cycle, especially on Fox? Then, after it has reached its fever pitch through the primetime shows, Hannity ends the night by ringing up the president, planning the next day’s media cycle.

This feedback loop has certainly seemed to benefit both parties of late, as the numbers show. Trump is getting more and more Americans to come around and approve of the job he’s doing as president, and Fox News is snagging a bigger share of the cable news viewing audience. It’s a win-win for them, and it only seems to be getting better for Trump and Fox.

On Wednesday, for instance, Fox again led across the board for the day. But this time around, CNN had a special town hall event featuring House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Despite CNN promoting the live forum for days and having soon-to-be 9 PM anchor Chris Cuomo moderate it, the program only drew 742,000 total viewers and a paltry 222,000 in the demo.

Meanwhile, Hannity nearly quintupled those total viewership numbers during the same hour, pulling in 3.249 million viewers overall and a demo audience of 621,000. And for the primetime hours, Fox drew 2.837 million total viewers, easily outpacing MSNBC (1.92 million) and CNN (794,000).

Sure, this is just a small snapshot, but truthfully, this is not an isolated incident. This is part of the larger picture we’ve been seeing recently. And, quite frankly, it is telling that a Democratic leader ahead of a much-anticipated ‘Blue Wave’ can only draw a fraction of the audience of a man ranting about the DEEP STATE and Hillary/Russia collusion seems to be some kind of metaphor of where we’re currently at.

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Justin Baragona is the founder/publisher of Contemptor and a contributor to The Daily Beast. He was previously the Cable News Correspondent for Mediaite and prior to starting Contemptor, he worked on the editorial staff of PoliticusUSA. During that time, he had his work quoted by USA Today and BBC News, among others. Justin began his published career as a political writer for 411Mania. He resides in St. Louis, MO with his wife and pets.

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