Lawrence O'Donnell, After Touting Being Maddow's Runner-up, Has Ratings Sad

July 17, 2013

Lawrence O'Donnell, while demanding credit from Salon for an article about Washington media coverage of the IRS targeting scandal July 8, touted the second-place MSNBC audience of his show The Last Word, on a night where he actually had the worst ratings of any evening MSNBC program.

His show has placed third or worse among the liberal network's shows that air 5 p.m. or later every night since:

O'DONNELL: In the piece, MSNBC is thrown in with everyone else who got the story wrong. In order to do that, Salon had to ignore all three of MSNBC's primetime shows, the shows which happen to have the biggest audiences on MSNBC, with Rachel of course having the largest audience of all. To accuse MSNBC of getting it wrong, Salon had to ignore the very existence of this program, which has the second-largest MSNBC audience. In fact, more people heard this program, getting the IRS fake scandal right, every night, than heard anyone else on the network getting it not so right.

While O'Donnell had usually placed second behind The Rachel Maddow Show before then, on that particular evening O'Donnell finished fifth with 529,000 viewers, behind Maddow (658,000), PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton (641,000), All In with Chris Hayes (606,000), and both the 5 and 7 p.m. ET editions of Hardball with Chris Matthews (616,000 and 545,000).

On July 9, the same night Maddow's show finished behind HLN's Dr. Drew, O'Donnell was third on MSNBC with 512,000 viewers, behind Maddow (744,000) and Hardball (555,000 and 541,000). He was third again July 10 with 604,000 viewers to lose to Maddow (806,000) and Sharpton (627,000), and Thursday he fell to fifth with 627,000 tuning in, behind Maddow (887,000), Sharpton (682,000), Hayes (671,000) and Matthews at 5 p.m. (643,000).

O'Donnell placed third on MSNBC Monday with 717,000 viewers behind Maddow (819,000) and both showings of Hardball (743,000 and 726,000), and he again put up the worst MSNBC evening ratings Tuesday, the night of Major League Baseball's All-Star Game, with just 506,000 viewers. It was less than half of CNN's Anderson Cooper (1,013,000) and behind compatriots Maddow (696,000), Sharpton (655,000), Hayes (579,000) and Matthews (569,000 and 520,000).

MSNBC also finished a distant fourth in the cable news ratings during the reading of the George Zimmerman trial verdict July 13, despite covering the case wall-to-wall for three weeks.