Warner Todd Huston
How the old media constantly undermines Sarah Palin
By Warner Todd Huston
November 23, 2010

Most media-watching conservatives have simply been flabbergasted at how the Old Media establishment has so neatly come together to destroy Sarah Palin. The Internet has been abuzz with examples of this attack on Sarah since she was chosen by John McCain to be her number two during the campaign for the 2008 presidential election. Every day there is a new example of it and here is yet another one.

This time it was penned by a "TV critic" for the Washington Post named Lisa de Moraes. De Moraes is well known for constantly injecting left-wing asides into her work and her Nov. 19 attack on the Palins is no exception.

She misled her readers (all 20 of them, I'm sure) right off the bat with her snotty headline, "Sarah Palin tries to lure Bristol's huge 'DWTS' audience to her far less popular TLC reality series."

What is with this "her far less popular" epithet? This claim is not based in logic.

De Moraes went on with her accusatory rhetoric.

    Sarah Palin hopes to lure her daughter Bristol's 20 million viewers to her own, far less popular, reality TV series this coming Sunday:

    "Ah yes...Bristol-the-diva! Silly critics! See her diva-ish-ness Sunday, 'Sarah Palin's Alaska' 2 learn truth, before assuming. Thanks & enjoy!" Sarah Palin tweeted Thursday afternoon.

Of course her every word is but hatemongering, left-wing spin not based on any real truthful analysis of TV. After all, anyone with a basic grasp of the statistics of TV would understand that her sniping was simply not based in reality.

First of all the 20 million viewers that Dancing With the Stars gets are not "daughter Bristol's 20 million viewers." They are the viewers of the show that Bristol happens to be appearing on for this one season. So, de Moraes's first snark is not based in truth.

Secondly, Sarah's Tweet was but a good-natured poke at her own daughter, the sort of ribbing every healthy family indulges with each other. Sure it was an advertisement for her own TLC show, but critic de Moraes is more interested in imputing a darker meaning to the good-natured Tweet: jealousy.

The simple fact of the matter is that TLC's cable channel does not attract the sort of viewing numbers that any of the old three TV networks attract. So Palin's TLC show could never achieve the numbers that Dancing With the Stars or practically any other network TV show garners.

According to Nielson, for instance, the number of TV households across the country stood at 114.5 million for the 2008-2009 season and the big three appears on all of them. As it stands now, ABC, CBS and NBC rarely get less than an average of twenty million viewers a night of all shows combined on their network in primetime and Dancing got nearly 20 million last week all by itself.

For its part TLC appears in fewer homes than the big three. According to TLC the cable channel appears in 99 million American homes. For those counting that's a difference of some 15 million fewer homes than the big three.

Another way to compare: for the week of Nov. 8 the top rated non-sports show was Dancing with the Stars with nearly 20 million viewers. Yet the top rated non-sports cable show was Nick@Nite's Spongebob Squarepants with just a bit over six million viewers. Cable simply doesn't come close to the viewers the big three networks get.

De Moraes tried to pretend she was a real critic by adding this:

    While Sarah Palin's new TLC reality series attracted TLC's biggest series-debut audience ever, that amounted to only 5 million viewers — a tiny crowd compared to the 20-million-ish who have been watching this season of ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" on which her daughter has made it all the way to the finals. Because, no matter what people might say about cable TV taking over the universe, there' s still nothing like a broadcast network for reaching a gigantic number of people.

Notice how de Moraess is trying to have it both ways? In one breath she is saying that Palin's show is "far less popular" yet on the other saying that a cable show can't possibly get the same numbers as a network TV show. So, even as she admits that trying to compare a cable audience to a broadcast TV audience is absurd, she still rests her entire snarky point on imagining that Sarah's show is "far less popular" than Dancing With the Stars.

Still, Sarah Palin's Alaska brought 5 million viewers for its debut episode, a smashing success for TLC. Even wth that success, for de Moraes to try to compare Dancing with Palin's TLC show is idiotic. It's apples to oranges... or apples to grizzlies at least. The fact is Sarah Palin's show could be the most popular show on cable and still not get the numbers that the big three get. "Popularity" isn't the proper measuring stick and de Moraes knows it.

So, what do we have here? We have a supposed TV critic misleading readers into thinking that Palin's TLC show is "far less popular" than the show her daughter appears on, we get a TV critic discounting the massive numbers of 5 million viewers Palin did get by presenting that stat as somehow incidental when it is nothing short of amazing, and we get a TV critic trying to paint the momma grizzly as somehow jealous of her cub's success on Dancing.

This "TV column" is not a reporting on TV. It is a ham-handed, cynical attempt to mislead readers into thinking ill of Sarah Palin, painting her in a bad light, and misconstruing the facts in the attempt.

© Warner Todd Huston


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Warner Todd Huston

Warner Todd Huston's thoughtful commentary, sometimes irreverent often historically based, is featured on many websites... (more)

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