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Another week, another by-line, another puzzlingly inaccurate report from TV Newser on the morning show ratings, something I’ve followed for years.

The full article follows, but I’ve excerpted the bad math that appears in the second paragraph:

Year-over-year “Today” was down while CBS and ABC were up, which can be attributed to NBC’s boost during coverage of the Vancouver Olympics last February.”

WRONG: All three were down in the demo ( A25-54) and Early and Today were down in total viewers.  GMA was up in total viewers.  How do I know this? I clicked on your own Year-over-year link and found this:

The averages for the week of Feb. 15 2010:Total Viewers: NBC: 6.38M / ABC: 4.49M / CBS: 2.85M

A25-54: NBC: 2.86M / ABC: 1.85M / CBS: 1.24M

Then I compared last years numbers to the averages you published today for the week of  Feb. 14 2011:Total Viewers:    NBC: 5.45M / ABC: 4.73M / CBS: 2.72M

A25-54 viewers: NBC: 2.43M / ABC: 1.79M / CBS: 1.20M

Here are my calculations:
Total Viewers : NBC: -930,000/ ABC +24,000/ CBS -130,000

A25-54 Viewers: NBC: -430,000/ABC   -60,000  /CBS  -40,000

It’s really not that hard to do: Step one: Write down the NBC total number from  the week of Feb. 15, 2010, then subtract the number you see next to NBC  total viewer for the week of Feb. 14, 2011.  You get 930,000 which is the decline in the audience year to year.  Repeat the same process with ABC and CBS, then all three networks for the A25-54 viewers.

Now try that math exercise for last week’s post on the morning show audience and, whoops, you’ll see why your math teacher is trying to reach you.

(In fact, I think you might want to re-check all of your numbers…. and then we’ll move on to some other suggestions.)

By Chris Ariens on February 25, 2011 4:38 PM

Last week saw another decline for the morning network news programs, compared to the week before. The combined average for NBC’s “Today,” ABC’s “Good Morning America” and CBS’ “The Early Show” was 12.9 million, down -6% week-over-week. “Today” remained #1 with a 720K total viewer lead over “GMA.”

Year-over-year “Today” was down while CBS and ABC were up, which can be attributed to NBC’s boost during coverage of the Vancouver Olympics last February.

The averages for the week of Feb. 14:

  • Total Viewers: NBC: 5.45M / ABC: 4.73M / CBS: 2.72M
  • A25-54 viewers: NBC: 2.43M / ABC: 1.79M / CBS: 1.20M


First came hundreds of layoffs.  Then came the ousting of the executives who orchestrated the firings to balance the books after  years of their own poor performance.

David Westin was out at ABC News, replaced by Ben Sherwood.

Sean McManus was out at CBS News but not before he finally canned the entire morning show anchor team he had so stubbornly stuck with: Harry Smith, Maggie Rodriguez and weatherman Dave Price whose idea of a great seasonal  live shot was to go to a cranberry farm and re-create the Ocean Spray Cranberry juice commercial (one of the show’s sponsors), reach down into the thigh-high bog of wet cranberries, and pull out — a bottle of Ocean Spray Cranberry juice.

McManus was replaced by the crackling insider/outsider team of Jeff Fager and David Rhodes who quickly booted CBS VP of talent,  Barbara Fedida (who in full disclosure is a personal friend I adore),  and EVP Paul Friedman, who acknowledged in his good-bye memo his nickname: “Darth Vader.”

In one of the greatest of  ironies, he also noted the “cruelty of Page Six” and their misplaced sources at CBS.(Well, perhaps one greater irony was the unfortunately misspelling in the subject line  (see below) of  the memo  which recounted his more than 40 years in network news, with references to “golden years,” ” high standards” and “quality now under assault.”

When I began reading it, unaware of his firing, I wondered, “Who’s Chang?”

—– Original Message —–

From: Friedman, Paul -(CND)
To: @CND News
Sent: Fri Feb 18 12:06:56 2011
Subject: Chang

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I came here five years ago to help Sean make a great but wounded news division stronger.  Now he’s going back to Sports fulltime, and I’m leaving.  It’s been great.   Simply put, the new guys need to have their own team, and I wish them all the best … Read the rest of this entry »

…and, sorry, but you’re so often wrong!

try double-checking your math; it works for the rest of us

See if you can guess what’s wrong with TVNewser’s morning show report online today?  See answer below.

Morning Show Ratings: Week of February 7

By Molly Stark Dean on February 17, 2011 2:42 PM

Last week saw a slight decline for all the morning network news programs after the week prior brought in elevated viewership due to the crisis in Egypt. NBC’s “Today” remained the top morning network news program for the week with a 750K lead on #2 ACB’s “Good Morning America.”

Year-over-year “Today” was up slightly in Total Viewers, no small feat considering the week of Feb. 8, 2010 saw the “Today” team in Vancouver ahead of the Winter Olympics. “GMA” asaw year-over-year gains in both Total Viewers and A25-54 viewers. CBS’ “The Early Show” was down slightly in both, year-over-year.

The averages for the week of Feb. 7:

  • Total Viewers: NBC: 5.75M / ABC: 5.00M / CBS: 3.02M
  • A25-54 viewers: NBC: 2.71M / ABC: 1.92M / CBS: 1.29M


1) “GMA” asaw year-over-year gains in both Total Viewers and A25-54 viewers. WRONG!

2)  CBS’ “The Early Show” was down slightly in both, year-over-year. WRONG!

According to my old-fashioned math:

Early was up in demo versus a year ago,  GMA was down and Today was flat percentage-wise,  but down by 10,000 A25-54 viewers:
A25-54                2010               2011  ___% Diff
Today                 2720                2710             Flat
GMA                    2120                1920             -9%
Early                   1280                1290            +1%

Besides a numbers checker, I always find the computer’s spell check program often helps with stray letters in “GMA asaw..”

P.S. If you ever want to correct some of the bad numbers in your archives, let me know.

***UPDATE: by popular request, I am posting the last few years of morning show ratings for the week of (or comparable to) February 7th:


2008 – 2,930,000
2009 – 2,590,000
2010 – 2,720,000
2011   -2,710,000

2008 – 2,250,000
2009 – 2,090,000
2010 – 2,120,000
2011   -1,920,000

Early Show
2008 – 1,540,000
2009 – 1,320,000
2010 – 1,280,000
2011 –  1,290,000


Lara Logan in Tahrir Square shortly before her attack

First, my beef today with some of the newsies: one had to resign after tweeting Lara Logan was trying to one-up Anderson Cooper, another says she and CBS were “complicit in a news cover-up.”  Others have noted “something fishy” in her lack of details.

My guess is whatever veteran war correspondent Lara Logan is going to do or say, it won’t quite fit what some news people expect of her. Despite the trauma, the physical and psychic pain of a “brutal and sustained sexual assault,  her news peers (and I use the term loosely) now are now examining the handling of her own horrific story. Shame on those who dare to judge her or CBS.

In today’s Boston, columnist Michael Graham takes her and her network to task:

“Five days of silence — not even “60 Minutes” coverage of the Egypt story. No mention of the “mob of more than 200 people whipped into frenzy” who attacked their own reporter.

“How is that not news? adding, “I’m with liberal columnist Richard Cohen of The Washington Post,” who wrote, “The sexual assault of a woman in the middle of a public square is a story  . . .  particularly because the crowd in Tahrir Square was almost invariably characterized as friendly and out for nothing but democracy,” Cohen wrote.

“Watching the same complicit media we all saw, Cohen notes most journalists covered the mobs “as if they were reporting from Times Square on New Year’s Eve, stopping only at putting on a party hat.”

I agree with Cohen that most journalists covered the mobs as if they were reporting from Times Square on New Year’s Eve.  (see daily Xpress February 6th,  “…This isn’t Woodstock.)

But these are two separate issues;  Lara Logan’s personal trauma is her personal story and it’s up to her when, how and if she ever wants to discuss it.


So who is Michael Graham and why is he weighing in?   Is he dedicated to upholding journalism standards?  Is he an advocate for women’s rights?  Has he been a part of an advanced dialog on the reporting of rape before now?

No! Michael Graham is a radio talk show host and it looks like this is his first op ed article on any of this.  During the past month, while democracy was painfully birthing in Egypt, Graham wrote about Obama’s budget cuts, the Boston mayor’s “jihad” on Wal-Mart, and how his driveway looks like an amateur luge course.  So I guess I have to ask why  Matt Drudge  linked to it high up on our daily news bible?

It would be different if Michael Graham, or any of the current critics, bothered to note the irony of the CBS Logan report appearing on the same day that a landmark federal lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., accusing our own Department of Defense of allowing a military culture that not only fails to prevent rape and sexual assaults, but often promotes the perpetrators of those crimes.

Which brings me back to my note to President Obama, our commander in chief. Read the rest of this entry »


The Presidential Sunday Menu: the Superbowl of fat and salt

Tomorrow, Michelle Obama begins a three-day publicity blitz which will include appearances on the Today Show, Live With Regis and Kelly, then traveling to Atlanta to speak about gardening and healthy eating. She will unveil a new public service ad created by the Ad Council. And she will host, along with the surgeon general and various cabinet secretaries, a series of conference calls with members of the medical community, school administrators and healthy school advocates, physical activity advocates, mayors, and other community leaders.


The First Lady has accomplished a lot in the last year since declaring war on obesity.

Michelle: hey there, don't forget those fruits and veggies

She began by installing a vegetable garden in the White House, a great example followed by Americans coast to coast including me.

Then she convinced Wal-Mart to lower prices on fruits and veggies and cut fat, sugar and salt their foods.

For the past few months, according to the New York Times, her soldiers in the war on fat have been holding private talks with the National Restaurant Association to get restaurants to offer smaller portions, plus children’s meals with carrots, apples and milk instead of french fries and soda.

Over the past year, she has pressed for “front of package” labels to warn consumer of high salt, sugar and fat content. She’s asked beverage companies to redesign their soda cans to include calorie counts. She’s pushed Congress to require schools to provide healthier lunch menus (a long way from the Reagan era when the debate was whether or not ketchup was a vegetable.) And her suggestion that restaurants be required to print nutrition information on menus quietly became part of the President’s landmark health care law.

So what’s up with that Superbowl Sunday menu the First Lady offered her guests? It was a buffet selection missing only the engraved invitation to the nearest coronary care unit: bratwurst, kielbasa, cheeseburgers, deep-dish pizza and Buffalo wings with sides of German potato salad, twice-baked potatoes, assorted chips and dips and ice cream. I’m getting chest pains just reading it.
Read the rest of this entry »


I’m totally exhausted.  After nearly two weeks of Egyptian protests which has included the promise of the President to step down in September and begin democratic reforms right away, followed by “thugs” entering Tahrir Square, the molotov cocktails and the roughing up and intimidation of  foreign journalists, I’ve been busier than ever digging daily for research to supplement our great 24/7 American media.

Yes, we all love a demonstration by people yearning for democracy.   But  the coverage of Egypt as some kind of Woodstock has left me scrambling for something more.   One of the low points for me was stumbling across  Elliot Spitzer, excitedly telling viewers he can’t wait to see what happens next in Alexandria.  Continuing on the primetime schedule for CNN was Piers Morgan, covering his first ever live news story.  (Perhaps they might have tried breaking their new anchors in on a car chase or two.)

Neda: the face of the failed Iranian Revolution

Over on Fox, Shep Smith was blaming Mubarak for sending thugs into the main square to attack  peaceful demonstrators  journalists.  First I wondered how anyone knew who was behind the “thugs,” and then I wondered, as I did all week, why not one journalist worried in advance that it might turn as ugly as the 2009 protests in Iran.

Perhaps they subliminally  knew not to paint Mubarak with the same brush stroke as Ahmadinejad who put an end to his country’s pro-democracy demonstrations in 2009 by cutting down people like Neda, the Iranian girl shot in the heart in front of her father.

Barbara Walters give a history lesson to Piers Morgan

What a joy it was to finally hear Barbara Walters join Piers Morgan mid-week and offer him, and us viewers, a history lesson.  As he pressed with indignation to find out why Obama wasn’t insisting  Mubarak step down immediately Barbara Walters gently, respectfully and very clearly,  explained that the region is full of dictators and always has been.  We support the ones who share our interests.

Yes, yes, yes! Finally someone  spoke who was not giddy about the overthrow of Mubarak.

Like Barbara Walters, I will qualify my observations as those not of a mideast expert, but as a journalist with strong interest in the region who has covered stories there…  certainly not as many as Barbara Walters who has sat down one on one with many or most of their 20th century titans.

Leslie Gelb,  president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations wrote this weekend in the Daily Beast, “all who ignore this history are naive...   The Muslim Brotherhood jumps immediately to mind… (for the potential to hijack democracy) but don’t overlook the potentially equal or greater threat …  from Egypt’s beloved armed forces. The history of venomous domestic and foreign-policy pronouncements by the MB should keep us all awake at night. And never forget that the murderers of the great President Anwar Sadat were Muslim Brothers embedded in the army.”

Now I didn’t watch all channels all the time, so I might have missed  the coverage where you get context and  keen insights.   But  I’ve felt pretty much on my own.   So as someone who has more than an average interest in both the story and how it’s covered, here’s my own personal briefing book for anyone else who might need it. Read the rest of this entry »



Mark Whitaker: has his work cut out at CNN



On Friday, with Egypt erupting in a people’s revolution, CNN wisely bagged their primetime programs and stayed on the live breaking news with two of the best reporters of our generation: Ben Wedeman and Nic Robertson. Sadly, not many viewers came to the party.  Now CNN has put in place Mark Whitaker, a news exec from NBC and Time. Will he be the heroic smoke jumper needed to save the prime real estate?


Below are the A25-54 #s for Friday for CNN from 6-11PM:

Blitzer: 257,000

KingUSA: 239,000

ParkerSpitzer: 149,000

Morgan: 178,000

Cooper: 247,000

Last year, Larry King averaged 199,000 A25-54 on the same week (w/o Jan 25th) last year — without breaking news. Read the rest of this entry »