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All Those Fox News Viewers? They Don't Get Out Much

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So, Fox News has just posted its highest ratings ever in 2009? This is hardly a surprise to those of us who cover the television industry. We're used to lousy programming doing well in the ratings. It's almost an article of, well, faith.
The Huffington Post piece added that shows like the dimbulb "O'Reilly Factor" have kicked ass this year. But isn't that what the thuggish Bill-O does..kick ass? Well, beat up on people.
I'll let you in on a little secret among many of us TV critics. One you may well have already guessed. There are a lot if shut-ins out there. Lots of them.
My daughter, for example, lived until recently in an apartment in the San Francisco Area above a woman she never met. The woman's TV was on literally 24 hours a day, and tobacco smoke wafted from her dreary cocoon. She left her door ajar, presumably to let some smoke escape, so I could hear what was on TV when I walked past her door. The woman, who wasn't disabled, rarely went out (and she wasn't elderly), and she was watching mostly Fox News. Quelle surprise!
Shut-ins, the fearful, and low-information viewers. That's the backbone of Fox News' audience. And let us speak plainly here: This country is, sadly but inarguably, full of such dimbulbs and recluses.
Not that everyone who watches Fox News fits the above description, of course.
Some of them DO get out. To tobacco stores and fast-food places. Many of them are white and don't like people of color. (As the joke currently making the rounds goes, they hate the fact that a black man living in public housing is running the country.)
And they often go out to casinos. I say the latter because both times I've stuck my head in a large Indian gaming parlor this year (to use the bathroom), it was Fox News displayed above the bar and in the men's room.
No one is more cynical-- or, I would argue, more realistic -- about the people who watch hours and hours of TV each day in the internet age than those of us who cover TV for a living. "Heavy TV users," is the network term. We all know who these sad, angry people are. And we know they watch garbage. (I know...this is unbelievably elitist). We TV writers know there are some people who actually find "According to Jim" to be funny. After all, it wouldn't have lasted what, 15 years? SOMEBODY'S watching this garbage. Actually, lots of people, sad as that is to contemplate.
Same deal with Fox News.
So, whatever the opposite of "creme de la creme " is, that's your basic Fox News viewer. And there are a lot of them. Just not enough to elect our President, thank God.