Fox News host Sean Hannity has lost half of his television viewing audience since the re-election of President Barack Obama, a result some critics say is due to his lopsided coverage of the presidential race.
Hannity’s Nielsen ratings were at an all-time high before the election, according to New York Daily News television editor Don Kaplan. During that time, the self-identified conservative filled his show with right-wing opinion makers who portrayed the election as a certainty for President Obama’s Republican rival, Mitt Romney.
The reality of the election showed Romney lagging behind behind President Obama in every poll throughout the race.
Post-election, Hannity has lost more than half his audience in the highly-prized 25-54 age demographic. In contrast, his colleague Bill O’Reilly, who delivers a social-conservative message yet refuses to identify himself as one – retained 70-percent of his viewership.
“The going wisdom is that viewers who basked in his [Hannity's] pre-election 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,” Kaplan writes.
The MSNBC shows of progressive commentators Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz have held on to most of their viewers, while moderate CNN anchor Anderson Cooper has lost none of his rating share.
“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,” wrote Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic just after the election. “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.”
Others dispute this conclusion, pointing out that ratings at Fox News jump when major political events happen, and taper off once the story ends. As the default ‘conservative Republican’ voice in the media, more viewers tuned in to Hannity’s show during the presidential election to find out what the opposition thought.