Keith Olbermann defended his show Thursday against reports that it is in danger of being canceled over declining ratings.
Several recent reports, from outlets including Daily Finance, the Los Angeles Times, and the New York Post's Page Six have focused on Olbermann's January demo rating, which dropped 44% from January 2009 (the month of Barack Obama's inauguration).
From Daily Finance:
Ratings for Olbermann's Countdown have been soft recently, and the 8 p.m. shows on CNN and HLN have narrowed the gap. In the important demographic of adults 25 to 54 -- the group advertisers are looking to reach -- Countdown was down 44% year-over-year in January. It averaged 268,000 viewers in that demo, only 3,000 more than Nancy Grace's show on HLN, and 12,000 more than CNN's Campbell Brown. Fox News's O'Reilly Factor dominated the hour with 964,000 viewers age 25 to 54, and was the only cable news show in the time period to increase its audience, by 55%.
Olbermann branded Daily Finance a "right-wing site" after that report — an allegation that was batted down by the writer, Jeff Bercovici — but it was used as the basis for the LAT commentary "Countdown begins for end of Keith Olbermann's 'Countdown'?" and the Page Six item, "Olbermann's sinking ship." Both of those items hinted strongly that Olbermann's run as MSNBC's leading man in primetime may soon come to an end, even though MSNBC president Phil Griffin said in the original ratings post that he is "pleased with where we are" at 8PM.
Thursday night, Olbermann responded to the rumor that his show is in jeopardy on both his show and on Daily Kos.
"The show isn't about to be cancelled," he wrote. "It isn't slumping. MSNBC isn't worried about it. NBC isn't worried about it. It is making them a ---damned fortune, in fact (and they'd owe me a ---damned fortune if they did cancel it, which they aren't going to)."
Olbermann blamed the storyline on a right-wing smear campaign, noting that the New York Post is "Rupert Murdoch's vanity newspaper" and that the Los Angeles Times writer, Andrew Malcolm, was once Laura Bush's press secretary:
It's the route by which the thing got seized by the sleaze blogs like Breitbart and NewsCorp and the like that so beautifully, almost diagrammatically, illustrates how Conservatives come to believe the crazy, nonsensical, totally fact-free things they believe, how they transform discernible, provable lies, into their wishful-thinking version of the truth.
Olbermann also accused Bercovici of cherry-picking his data and described the longtime media writer as "Daily Finance's extremely thin-skinned media writer, always hostile, and snickered at behind his back by his rivals."
Olbermann claimed his ratings actually grew in January, citing month-to-month figures showing that "Countdown" grew 5% over December 2009 (though year-over-year numbers are much more standard than month-to-month).
"And yet the right wing believes that Countdown is about to be cancelled, because it so desperately wants it to be cancelled, that the facts, and the ratings, and the profits, become irrelevant," he wrote. "And it is better for them to pretend they are getting their way, than to acknowledge that they are not."