Drudge Report is one of my favorite sites because it so frequently scoops the major media outlets or puts up links to stories I might otherwise miss. Its actual reporting, however, tends to be rather, um, suspect. Take for example the current headliner:


Outspoken anti-war activist Susan Sarandon hit severe ratings turbulence on CBS Sunday night with her original telefilm ICE BOUND — landing last in overnight ratings and losing nearly 40% of audience levels from the previous Sunday on CBS.

ICE pulled a frosty 5.5 rating/9 share in NIELSEN’s 55 overnight markets.

* * *

It is not clear if it was ICE’s subject matter — a woman suffering from breast cancer in the South Pole — or if it was viewership rejection of Sarandon that resulted in the startling ratings crash.

Absent the slightest bit of evidence that her political views had anything to do with the ratings, why would we presume they did? Sarandon is hardly the most outspoken figure in the entertainment industry. Indeed, aside from a few examples in country music–notably the Dixie Chicks loss of fans after making anti-Bush comments and the success of a couple of artists who made pro-war songs–I am unaware of any evidence that suggests people choose entertainment based on the politics of the artists involved.

Update (1215): I just remembered: TBS was showing Bull Durham last night. Heh.

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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. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. PoliBlogger says:

    I actually surfed past said movie last night–it really wasn’t all that compelling. Heck, Sarandon’s politics annoy me, but I didn’t automatically change the channel when I saw there. When I saw that the movie wasn’t very good, then I kept moving. Funny how that works.

    In fact, the fact that Sarandon was in the movie made me stop in the first place. Not because I am a big fan or anything, but because of all the recent controversy, she has been high-profile.

  2. Ian S. says:

    Drudge was flogging this on his radio show last night, telling everyone that evil will lose if nobody watches her movie. Given the subject matter I wouldn’t have watched it anyway, so I think the proof’s a bit murky.

  3. PoliBlogger says:

    I think that it is possible for an actor or singer to so identify themselves with a given set of politics, that the public sees the politics, not the actor (or, more importantly, the performance)–but I think that it is fairly rare. Jane Fonda did that to herself to some degree, for example.

  4. James Joyner says:

    Agreed. But even people at the annoyance level that, say, Alan Alda and Ed Asner reached in the 1980s don’t seem to hurt their careers. It’s not like I watch old MTM reruns and think “Gee, what an idiot that guy is” all the time.

  5. John Lemon says:

    Drudge may have a bit of a point in that he compared the 40% drop from weekend to weekend over the past few years. This drop was unusually big. The next step is to see if large drops were related to the movie content or Sarandon. I’m betting a bit of both. Granted the Ice Bound story was very touching, but I don’t see it as a good two hour drama — women does biopsy on self, finds she has cancer, race to get her out of Antarctica, makes it out (we do know the ending).