Re-writing Reaganomics; FNC Beats MSNBC
claim that Reaganomics reduced tax revenue as the cuts benefited
the rich. Facts show otherwise.
- The Fox News
Channel beats MSNBC, but the ratings for both are puny compared to
ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC.
continue to re-write the history of the 1980s to match the liberal
view that Reaganomics made the rich richer and the poor poorer as tax
cuts combined with defense hikes to make the deficit soar.
Here are two examples and how
they measure up to the facts.
-- Back on the May 4 Sunday
Journal on C-SPAN, MRC analyst Jim Forbes noted, Washington Post
reporter John Yang used flawed assumptions about the '80s to discredit
the tax cuts in the current balanced budget plan. Yang asserted:
"The way these tax cuts
are structured, many Democrats fear that they will explode, the costs
will sort of explode in the second five years and that we're getting
ourselves into the same situation we got into with the 1981 tax
cuts....I think there's concern that we're getting into a situation
where we're going to have to pay for these tax cuts over the second
five years from 2002 out, and that's gonna cramp the government, have
even less money for spending and less money for programs."
Reality Check 1: As
documented by the Heritage Foundation's Daniel Mitchell in the
foundation's Issues '96 book, "Tax revenues expanded from $599
billion in 1981 to $991 billion in 1989. Even after adjusting for
inflation, revenues grew by 20 percent."
Reality Check 2: As
explained by Jim Glassman in a May 20 Washington Post column on the
balanced budget plan: "The Treasury was expected to collect $1.5
trillion from citizens and businesses in 1997. According to the new
bipartisan budget, that figure will rise to $1.9 trillion in 2002.
Meanwhile, spending will rise from $1.6 trillion to $1.9 trillion. And
there you have it: a balanced budget."
How exactly does that
"cramp" the government? It really cramps taxpayers.
-- In a May 22 USA Today
profile of Congressman Richard Gephardt, reporters Jill Lawrence and
William Welch scolded him for voting for the 1981 tax cut plan.
Lawrence and Welch declared
as fact: "He voted for the 1981 Reagan tax cuts that were a
windfall for wealthy Americans."
A few paragraphs later the
disinformation duo repeated Yang's false assertion: "'This all
started, in my view, back in 1981,' Gephardt said. He didn't mention
that he had voted that year in favor of the deep Reagan tax cuts that
fed the federal budget deficit."
Reality Check: As
cited in the December 1991 MediaWatch, IRS figures showed that
"the share of income tax collections paid by the top one percent
of taxpayers grew from 18 percent in 1981 to more than 27 percent in
1988." The share paid by the top ten percent also rose as the
percent paid by those earning less than $30,000 fell.
it's available in fewer homes, the Fox News Channel (FNC) is capturing
more viewers than MSNBC. But the audience for both of the new cable
offerings is minuscule compared to CNN and the broadcast networks.
Relaying "some bootleg
rating figures from Nielsen for the month of April," Washington
Post TV columnist John Carmody reported May 19:
-- "MSNBC...has grown to
a distribution base of some 33.8 million cable homes. Yet its 24 hour
average audience during April was just 21,000 cable homes -- or a
rating of 0.06. And in prime time last month, the audience increased
-- to only 29,000 cable homes (a 0.09 average).
-- "The Fox News
Channel...had risen to a 20.2 million home subscriber base by April...FNC,
despite lagging in total homes, surpassed MSNBC in 24-hour
Mondays-Sundays count with a 22,000 home average (a 0.11 rating) and
in prime time with a 33,000-home count (0.16) Mondays to Sundays
On the bright side, this
provides ammunition to bolster Fox. Its "We report. You
decide" approach is offering a news product more appealing than
MSNBC's which often is just more of the same liberal take provided by
On the other hand, the
audience for both channels nationwide is smaller than that captured by
any one radio talk show in any one major market.
By comparison, Carmody noted,
"CNN, with a universe of 71.1 million homes, averages about
577,000 homes in prime time." And if you ever wondered why my
tracking of scandal coverage concentrates on the broadcast networks,
they each attract 9 to 12 million viewers for their evening newscasts,
or about 32.7 million total viewers.
Doing a rough calculation to
make an accurate cable vs. broadcast comparison (there are about 2.77
persons per TV household), MSNBC's 29,000 evening home average
translates to about 80,000 viewers. For CNN, I get about 1.6 million
viewers in the evening. (I'm no Nielsen statistician, so I emphasize
that these are rough calculations. If anything, I'm overestimating the
number of cable viewers.)
For every one evening MSNBC
viewer there are:
> 20 people watching CNN
> 149 people watching ABC's World News Tonight
> 409 people in total watching World News Tonight, CBS Evening News
or NBC Nightly News.
For every one person watching
CNN at night there are:
> 7.5 people watching World News Tonight
> More than 20 people watching the ABC, CBS and NBC evening
The irony is that the more
diverse the media grow and the more the broadcast networks lose
viewers, in a certain sense, the more influential the networks become.
Even if ABC, CBS and NBC reach fewer viewers, they still are seen by
more people than any new network. They provide the best way for
advertisers to reach a wide cross-section of America in one hit. Which
is why prime time network advertising revenue grows each year even as
audience size declines.
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