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Politics Ain't Beanbag

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Among the many very nice comments I got for Wednesday's MULLINGS (Our Talking Points Society) was a reader who asked (in essence) "If Fox News Channel is so far ahead of MSNBC and CNN why did the GOP lose the Presidential election last Fall?"


The answer is: The number of people who watch cable news is a tiny percentage of the voting population.

According to the total number of people who tuned into any of the four major cable news channels (CNN, CNN Headline, Fox, or MSNBC) at any point between 4 PM and 11 PM totaled 23,430,000 viewers

It was split this way:

Fox: 12,907,000
MSNBC: 4,516,000
CNN: 2,659,000
CNN Headline: 3,348,000

Among all of those, Bill O'Reilly drew 2,883,000 in his 8 PM show. That's more than watched CNN throughout their entire seven hours of programming.

Just to give you a sense of context, the highest rated shows anywhere on cable on Monday night drew 13,850,000 viewers just in the three hours between 8 and 11. They were all the same show and all on the same network: Monday Night Raw (professional wrestling) on USA.

And the top broadcast network shows on Monday totaled 41,040,000 viewers just in the 8 o'clock hour; 75 percent more viewers for shows like "The Voice" and "Dancing with the Stars" than all of cable news for the entire afternoon and evening.

More data.

There are (as of last night) 315,572,776 people in the United States according to the U.S. Census bureau's "population clock." Most of them didn't watch a cable news show last night.

More, still? According to Wikipedia, 126,838,980 Americans voted in the 2012 Presidential election. That means 80 percent of voters (I know this is really stretching the point, but bear with me) probably are not regular viewers of Fox or MSNBC, or CNN.


In fact they are FAR more likely to have been viewers of "Dancing with the Stars" or "The Voice."

Ok. So, most voters are not glued to a cable news station at night.

That leads us to the absolutely ridiculous mini-burst of excitement over Ashley Judd running for the U.S. Senate from Kentucky.

The reason these two subjects are so closely related is because Ms. Judd got it into her head that she should be a United States Senator and would run against Senator Mitch McConnell who happens to be the Republican Leader.

I only know Ms. Judd because I have seen her as a pretty cute, modestly talented actress in some not-too-memorable movies. No one would confuse her with, for instance, Meryl Streep in terms of acting power.

She has continued her ties to Kentucky (as opposed to Malibu) mostly by attending KU basketball and football games. She has positioned herself as being an "humanitarian" for which she should get full marks, but none of that qualifies her to run for high public office.

I know that people with no previous political experience have been successful. Barack Obama's 2008 run for president comes to mind, but more often people like Ashley Judd think they can win because the people they hang around with tell them they can win.

If the people you are hanging around happen to live on the East or West Coast of the United States it is quite likely they will undervalue the abilities of people who live in the interior of the continent - the fly-over states.


"Honey if you want to run for Senator from … where, again? Oh, yeah, Kentucky, who can beat you? That guy with the glasses? Everyone I know is for you.

Hell, I'll come out and do fundraisers for you if you get me a plane and a car and a suite. Having you in the Senate would be a hoot!"

There have been people who have come from other walks of life and landed in the U.S. Senate, but very successful financiers and very popular show business types think they know everything there is to know about politics and are happy to tell you what you should or should not be doing.

Why? Because they are fawned over by the fund raisers who tell them every day that they are the fairest in the land.

I go to the movies, but if I went to Hollywood to get into the movie business I would be stripped naked and left standing at the intersection of Hollywood and Vine because I know nothing about making movies.

Hollywood people know nothing about politics.

Politics, as Finley Peter Dunne wrote in the 19th Century, ain't beanbag.

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