Bozell & Graham Column: Ratings Suffer When Celebrities Rant

March 3rd, 2018 7:12 AM

Many red-state Americans who used to love the awards shows on TV are now wary of celebrities who cannot help but use this platform to spew their hatred of Trump and the evil/stupid conservatives who keep Hollywood liberals from running (ruining) America.

Take the Golden Globe awards in January, which included a windy nine-minute Oprah Winfrey lecture about how we need the media elites more than ever, and the celebrities dressed in black and donned their “Time’s Up” pins to say sexual harassment is over. Ratings dipped five percent and 11 percent in the key demographic for advertisers, a six-year low.

Hollywood may finally be getting the message that TV ratings are suffering because the public has grown weary of people turning live events into leftist political rallies.

The New York Times reported the Oscars people are worried. “Whenever stars use the platform to support progressive causes and make political statements, large numbers of viewers turn the channel, according to academy insiders, who cite minute-by-minute Nielsen data for past shows.”

Channing Dungey, president of entertainment at ABC, said during their Oscars telecast, the campaign against sexual harassment should be limited to a pre-scheduled “moment,” so viewers don’t feel it “overshadows the artists and the films being honored.”

If the Academy Awards people wanted to recall how Hollywood has behaved, they would take a “moment” to  replay the standing ovation for child-raping director Roman Polanski when he won Best Director in 2003. The audience could see Meryl Streep standing and applauding, and then there’s director Martin Scorsese doing the same, being a good sport about losing to Polanski, and standing up and clapping behind him is…Harvey Weinstein. 

That’s a good clip of Hollywood’s history on opposing sexual assault.

This year’s Oscars host, ABC late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel, was more blunt, telling Good Morning America that “This show is not about reliving people's sexual assaults. It's an awards show for people who have been dreaming about maybe winning an Oscar for their whole lives. And the last thing I want to do is ruin that for making it unpleasant.”

But will Kimmel lash out at Republicans? When Good Morning America asked if he’s been too political recently and “pushed the envelope too far,” he shot back “Not at all. I don't think you can go too far.”  So when it came to sexual assault, Kimmel said “I'm not going to stop any bad behavior with my jokes.” But “making it unpleasant” for people who couldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton is apparently a patriotic duty.

Awards shows have been unable to avoid political moments, and viewers are tuning out. The audience for the Screen Actors Guild Awards, which began with host Kristen Bell mocking the First Lady, plummeted 30 percent (they were also scheduled against an NFL playoff game). The Grammy Awards -- which mocked President Trump in a skit featuring celebrities and Hillary Clinton reading passages from Michael Wolff’s unsubstantiated trash-for-cash book Fire and Fury -- was off ten million viewers (24 percent) for an all-time low.

Live events – including sports – are being skipped by people who can’t stand the political lectures. NFL ratings after all the railing against racism were down nearly 10 percent this season. NBC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics – complete with gay Olympians bashing Vice President Pence – was down 7 percent, making them the least-watched Olympics on record.

Even if ABC tries to rein in the Oscars, Americans know that Kimmel and the Hollywood crowd are likely to trash Trump, Pence, and the National Rifle Association. Many will find something else to watch.