Right-wing Fox News host Sean Hannity has seen his ratings collapse in the wake of the 2012 election, suggesting that there may be some consequences for terrible punditry after all.
The New York Daily News reports that Hannity has lost roughly half of his audience since Election Day, according to Nielsen ratings. Among viewers between 25 and 54 years old — the most lucrative demographic for advertisers — Hannity’s losses were even greater.
There’s no way of telling exactly why viewers are fleeing Hannity’s show, but the most likely explanation for his ratings plunge is his outrageously inaccurate analysis of the 2012 presidential election. Many conservative pundits wrongly predicted that Mitt Romney would win the election, but few were as vehement as Hannity, whose show seemed to take place in an alternate right-wing reality. It was on Hannity’s show, for example, that Dick Morris infamously declared that Romney would win the popular vote by 4 or 5 percent, winning Florida, Ohio, Nevada, Virginia, and Pennsylvania on the way to a landslide; Morris later admitted that he was consciously lying to Hannity’s viewers in a failed effort to help Romney’s campaign. Hannity also frequently hosted Karl Rove, Peggy Noonan, and Ann Coulter, among other commentators who confidently declared that President Obama’s campaign was dead in the water.
Hannity’s more reality-based competitors in the 9pm timeslot have not suffered the same ratings decline. According to the Daily News, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has hung on to most of her audience, and CNN’s Anderson Cooper has lost “almost none” of his viewers post-election. Making matters worse for Hannity, in December Maddow has been beating him in the ratings among the crucial 25-54 demographic.
The news isn’t all bad for Fox News, however. Bill O’Reilly has managed to keep almost 70 percent of his viewers from before Election Day, contributing to what has been — with the exception of Hannity’s collapse — another wildly successful ratings year for the right wing’s “Fair and Balanced” powerhouse.