Fox News has been the top rated cable news channel for the last 14 years, besting the competition throughout the day and in primetime - and now dominating the rest of the cable world, according to Nielsen Media numbers. Among 120 top cable networks, Fox New is ranked second only to ESPN.
There’s a reason for all of this, and most analysts cite the influence of Roger Ailes, the canny and powerful chief of the network - which will celebrate 20 years on the airways in 2016. Mr. Ailes has been named this year’s most influential person in political news by Mediaite.com, the nimble news site for those who wonder, worry or obsess over the intersection of politics, culture, press and media.
“Undisputed top dog for our list? Roger Ailes. Again. The Chairman and CEO oversees the Fox News machine that continues to dominate cable news viewership and has remained arguably the most important factor in Republican politics,” the judges noted.
“The boss has found himself in the somewhat public position of discussing (debating?) the network’s coverage with GOP frontrunner Donald Trump this year, and Ailes even had to angle himself in the feud between Trump and Fox favorite Megyn Kelly,” the judges said.
“While some may argue that Fox’s ratings aren’t as dominating as they once were, Fox News is still a ratings powerhouse - they end 2015 as the second-most-watched basic cable network in primetime and third-most in total-day viewership - and Roger Ailes is still firmly the massively successful force behind it. He remains the most influential person in political news media today,” the judges concluded.
Mr. Ailes has developed unique insight into the dynamics of a complex, quirky business. He has had a storied career, beginning in 1961 when he joined the staff of “The Mike Douglas Show,” fresh out of college. The young go-getter went on to produce multiple creative network TV shows and eventually realized that, done right, politics and media could mesh into compelling content. He homed in the particulars and went on to serve as close adviser to Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush during their presidential campaigns. Mr. Ailes even hosted his own nightly talk show on CNBC - when he served as president of the network in the early 1990s.
In the meantime, the list includes faces familiar to conservatives and Republicans. Uber-newsman Matt Drudge, whose Drudge Report website attracted almost 700 million visitors in the last month alone, was ranked No. 4. Rush Limbaugh, host of the nation’s most popular talk radio show, heard on 600 stations - is No. 8. The aforementioned Megyn Kelly - who consistently wins the primetime ratings race with her own nightly program - was tenth on the list of 25.
See the entire list of influencers here.
“This list recognizes those influential few whose voices and/or power rang out louder than the rest. In a year where a focus on national politics rose as a result of a contentious, bizarre, and always entertaining primary season, the writers, editors, TV personalities and business people on this list have had the greatest impact in how politics gets delivered to the masses,” Mediaite advised.
TODAY’S TERRORISM CONCERNS GREATER THAN AFTER 9/11
“It may come as little surprise to hear that terrorism currently leads the list of issues Americans want to see government action on: 24 percent of U.S. adults name it – without prompting – among the top issues for the government to address. This represents fourfold growth since November of last year (when 6 percent named it as a top issue and is on par with December 2001, when 22 percent of Americans named this issue in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks,” say Larry Shannon-Missal, managing editor of the Harris Poll, in an analysis of a new survey released Wednesday.
“Conservatives and registered Republicans both put terrorism followed by the economy at the top of their respective lists; the economy is tops among moderates, liberals, and registered Democrats and Independents, followed by terrorism,” he says.
THE VERY PROTECTIVE MR.CRUZ
“Defended the cross. And won. Protected the Ten Commandments. And won. Fought for the Second Amendment. And won. Stood up for the Pledge of Allegiance. And won.”
- Narrative text from a new campaign ad now running in Iowa for Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz, out to remind voters that he defended “the Mojave Memorial Cross, the Texas Capitol Ten Commandments monument, the Second Amendment, and the words ‘under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance.”
Mr. Cruz, the former Solicitor General of Texas, authored 70 U.S. Supreme Court briefs and presented 43 oral arguments, including nine before the highest court itself.
‘TRUMP’ IS THE NAME OF THE YEAR
This should please the aforementioned Donald Trump, meanwhile. His name has been declared the “Name of the Year” by the Global Language Monitor, a Texas-based research group that uses specialized software to track the frequency of words and phrases that are mentioned or appear online, in social media and through the top 275,000 print and electronic global news outlets and other media sources. That’s a lot of mentions, and Mr. Trump has been cited the most, according to the research.
Among those who he bested: Pope Francis, Russian President Vladimir Putin and China’s President Xi Jinping. The candidate “appears to be re-writing the rules of American political decorum,” according to Paul JJ Payack, director of the group.
The top word of 2015? It would be “microaggression,” he says - actually a catch-all description for all those words words that “send mostly unintended derogatory messages to members of various minority groups.”
Mr. Payack notes that such terms include “safe spaces” created by universities to protect students from feeling threatened or insulted, or terms like “snowflake” for the skittish students themselves.
CLINTON, TRUMP ARE TIED FOR THE LEAD: POLL
Strategists and the mainstream media may wish otherwise. But the expected “coronation” of a certain Democrat may not be a given.
“Presidential frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump remain all tied up,” says a new Rasmussen Reports poll released Monday. It finds that if the 2016 presidential election was held today, 37 percent of likely U.S. voters would vote for Mrs. Clinton, 36 percent support Mr. Trump. Another 22 percent would choose “some other candidate,” while a mere 5 percent are undecided. Voter sentiment hasn’t changed much. The pollster had near identical results in a similar survey in October.
And in the partisan scheme of things, 75 percent of Democrats back Mrs. Clinton, 63 percent of Republicans pick Mr. Trump. The excruciating details deep in the demographics lend some telling insight, though.
Unaffiliated voters pick the billionaire over the former Secretary of State, 36 percent to 25 percent respectively. Men prefer Mr. Trump over Mrs. Clinton by a 41 percent to 31 percent margin, while women choose Mrs. Clinton by a similar 42 percent to 31 percent. Voters under 40 give Mrs. Clinton a 39 percent to 27 percent lead over Mr. Trump, while middle-aged voters are evenly divided between the two. Senior citizens prefer Mr. Trump 45 percent to 33 percent.
White voters pick Mr. Trump 41 percent to 31 percent , while black and other minority voters give Clinton substantial leads. And last but not least, 7 percent of Republicans prefer Mrs. Clinton in a match-up with Trump; 12 percent of Democrats opt for Mr. Trump, if those are their choices. The survey of 1,000 likely voters was conducted December 22-23.
CLINTON FUNDRAISING AMONG THE BRITS
Just because it’s a holiday week shouldn’t stop a little “Hillraising.” Particularly in London. Yes, London. Sen. Kisten Gillibrand will be in the storied city on Tuesday to pick up some funds for the campaign of Hillary Clinton at a cozy private event described by the organizers as an “end of year dinner.” The exact location has not been disclosed.
Indeed, the New York Democratic lawmaker is a big draw for the event, and a glamorous one. But alas, the organizers also note, “Hillary will not be in attendance.”
Among the hosts: Margo Miller and Stephanie Stewart - both members of Hillary for America’s national finance committee. Along with a spate of others, each has helped raise at least $100,000 or more in primary election contributions for Mrs. Clinton’s campaign this year.
NEWS FROM ELSEWHERE
The sidewalks of ‘Frisco are not up for grabs.
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera is demanding the full cooperation of Def Jam Records, the company behind singer Justin Bieber. Mr. Herrera is intent on finding and punishing the guerrilla graffiti artists who are spray painting marketing phrases for Mr. Bieber’s new album across public sidewalks. He has sent a stern letter to record company officials, advising them that the “commercially sponsored graffiti” is vandalism.
“This prohibited marketing practice illegally exploits our city’s walkable neighborhoods and robust tourism; intentionally creates visual distractions that pose risks to pedestrians on busy rights of way; and irresponsibly tells our youth that likeminded lawlessness and contempt for public property are condoned and encouraged by its beneficiaries — including Mr. Bieber and the record labels that produce and promote him,” Mr. Herrera wrote.
“Our sidewalks in San Francisco are not canvasses for corporate advertising, and we have made that clear. Yet these guerrilla marketers believe they are above the law when it comes to blighting our city and we will take a strong stand against them,” agrees San Francisco Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru.
“The definition of graffiti is tagging someone else’s property without permission, and they certainly did not have our permission to do this to our sidewalks.”
POLL DU JOUR
88 percent of Americans give the U.S. Congress a negative overall job review for the year; 88 percent of Republicans, 91 percent of independents and 84 percent of Democrats agree.
71 percent overall say the nation is on the “wrong track”; 86 percent of Republicans, 75 percent of independents and 54 percent of Democrats agree.
63 percent overall give President Obama a negative overall job review; 89 percent of Republicans, 72 percent of independents and 32 percent of Democrats agree.
24 percent overall rank terrorism as the most important issue for the government to address; 23 percent cite the economy, 19 percent cite immigration, including refugee issues.
14 percent cite the state of healthcare, including Obamacare; 10 percent cite employment and jobs, 9 percent national security.
6 percent the environment, 5 percent gun laws and gun control, 5 percent cite the national debt.
Source: A Harris Poll of 2,252 U.S. adults conducted Dec. 9-14 and released Wednesday.
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