Some hard spin from NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’

NBC News sent out a press release on Thursday touting a “Meet the Press” ratings victory under the subject-heading: ““MEET THE PRESS” IS THE #1 SUNDAY PUBLIC AFFAIRS HOUR FOR JUNE 15, 2014.”

In the release, NBC stated that “Meet” was “the most-watched Sunday morning public affairs hour in both total viewers and the key news demo on June 15, 2014, according to Nielsen Media Research data.” Seemingly big news, as the beleaguered Sunday show has been struggling in the ratings race[1] amid negative press reports[2] about its host, David Gregory.

The release is actually a master class in spin. Because “Meet” was the No. 2 Sunday public affairs show among total viewers and the No. 3 show in the key news demo for June 15, 2014. In fact, Sunday’s “Meet” registered the lowest total viewers since July 5, 1992.

In an email, NBC News spokesperson Erika Masonhall stood by the claim that “Meet the Press” was No. 1 and suggested that other networks were guilty of spin: “Others may try to parse the numbers,” she wrote, “but in an apples-to-apples, hour-to-hour comparison of the official Sunday show ratings, ‘Meet the Press’ was number one.”

That’s true only if you selectively interpret CBS’s “Face the Nation” ratings and entirely ignore ABC’s “This Week.”

First, you’ll notice the release states that “Meet” was the No. 1 “hour,” as opposed to the No. 1 “show.” It does so on the grounds that CBS’s “Face the Nation” claims half-hour ratings despite the fact that it airs for a full hour in a majority of markets. This frustrates both NBC and ABC to no end. CBS News President David Rhodes promised[3] in 2012 that CBS would begin to rate for the full hour after the end of the 2012-2013 NFL season, but the network has yet to do so.

Nevertheless, Nielsen rates “Face the Nation” accordingly, and for June 15, “Face” registered 2,709,000 total viewers and 687,000 viewers in the demo — putting it ahead of NBC’s “Meet” on both counts. 

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