Dan Rather’s Ratings in a Free Fall


Dan Rather’s ratings in New York continue to tank in the wake of the fake-documents scandal. The “CBS Evening News” averaged 160,000 viewers last week on WCBS/Channel 2 — down from 231,000 viewers the week before.

Rather apologized for the National Guard documents debacle on the Sept. 20 newscast, and his numbers actually rose the next two days, reaching a high of 241,000 viewers Wednesday. In the week before Rather’s on-air mea culpa, viewership was off a staggering 49 percent. The numbers spiraled downward since Wednesday, with Thursday’s “Evening News” pulling only 140,000 viewers on Channel 2, and a measly 108,000 viewers Friday, according to Nielsen numbers.

Meanwhile, a fourth of American adults polled for USA Today and CNN by Gallup say Rather should be fired over the story charging President Bush got special treatment during his National Guard service — but 64 percent said the anchor should not be canned.

Considering that many people choose their network newscasts based on the local news lead-in, and that a significant number of people presumably have no real knowledge of the scandal, a 49% drop in ratings is simply phenomenal.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.