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Awful Ratings Quickly Come Back to Bite CNN's Bill Maher After He Attacks Arkansas Gov. Sanders

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Bill Maher might not be the answer CNN is looking for.

The foul-mouthed HBO comedian was brought over to the flailing Cable News Network starting Feb. 3 in the hopes that a short segment of a comedic take on the news of the day might be taken more seriously than CNN’s normal offering of leftist pablum.

But a quick glance at the ratings for Maher’s latest “Overtime” segment, in which he decided to attack Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, tells a different story.

According to an industry insider, Nielsen ratings data show Maher’s viewers on CNN plummeted between the segment’s debut on Feb. 3 and its second outing Friday.

The weekly segment airs in the 11:30-11:45 p.m. Eastern time slot and features Maher and guests discussing the news of the day and fielding questions from viewers, according to the CNN news release that introduced the idea to America.

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Maher’s first foray onto CNN drew 401,000 viewers, with just 92,000 in the 25-54 demographic advertisers covet.

On Friday, however, Maher’s second show drew only 345,000 viewers, according to the insider, an 11 percent drop between the two.

Even worse for CNN CEO Chris Licht, the number in the 25-54 demographic dropped to 70,000, a difference of 22 percent.

That means the viewers who mean the most to advertisers — which means the viewers who mean money for CNN — had a look at what Maher is selling and decided they weren’t buying.

Do you think Sarah Huckabee Sanders would make a good president?

And on Friday, Maher was selling a baseless, ad hominem assault on Sanders, one of the biggest names on the Republican side of American politics.

Meanwhile, over at Fox News Channel, business was booming — as usual.

According to the industry insider, FNC’s “Gutfeld!” — which airs at 11:30 p.m. Eastern — drew just over 2 million viewers against Maher’s Feb. 3 premiere, with 370,000 in the 25-54 demographic.

That’s a massive difference of 401 percent among all viewers — a whupping by any measure — and 302 percent among the 25-54 demographic, a smaller but potentially more expensive whupping.

For Maher’s second show, according to the insider, the whupping was even worse among all viewers, as “Gutfeld!” wallopped “Overtime” by 438 percent. Among the 25-54 demographic, the percentage difference was slightly smaller — FNC had only 296 percent more viewers than CNN in the slot “Overtime” occupies.

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So if Maher isn’t providing the ratings boost CNN needs, maybe he’s providing some momentum to Licht’s publicly pronounced push to pull the network back from its leftward slant?

Given that Maher is a liberal, that never seemed all that likely, though he does come up with some thoughts with so much common sense he sounds like a conservative.

But after Friday night’s show, even that idea is likely dead after the attack on Sanders.

In what would be a cardinal cultural sin had it been committed against any woman who was not a conservative, Maher criticized Sanders’ looks, claiming she appears to be decades older than she is.

“I noticed that she made a big point of age,” Maher said, as RadarOnline reported. “She said, ‘Biden is 80 and I’m 40.’ By the way, I thought she was 60 but OK.” He added, “I was shocked that she was only 40. I mean Washington has a way of taking a toll on you.”

That’s the kind of comment that won’t draw anyone but the kind of juvenile, vindictive liberal viewers who are already watching CNN. (And Maher is never going to out-lunatic MSNBC for completely off-the-reservation lunacy.)

He also attempted to brand her a “nepo baby,” that is, someone born into a family that got a boost in life because of connections.

Well, only a fool would deny that being the daughter of a successful politician, author and clergyman like Mike Huckabee would provide a boost to anyone.

But anyone familiar with Sanders’ years as press secretary in the Donald Trump White House knows she worked hard for her position. Just dealing with the ignorant malice of the Washington press corps day in and day out — and doing it superbly — would have tested the competence and patience of anyone.

(For a look at a real “nepo baby,” maybe Maher and his fellow liberals can consider the case of Hunter Biden, a man who’s spent his entire drug-addled adult life trading on his name and betraying his family and country. Yet he’s fawned on by the celebrity-leftist world Maher lives in. Go figure.)

That isn’t going to get CNN viewers from anywhere outside the juvenile, mean-spirited leftist base that was already watching.

As the industry insider put it:

“During Friday’s simulcast, Maher poked fun at Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ appearance — knocking her for her age, saying he was shocked she was 40. Nice move, Licht. Is that how you win over conservatives? With ageist comments toward Republican female leaders?”

That’s an excellent question — and it’s one that gets straight to the heart of what Licht claims, at least, that he’s trying to do for CNN — to bring the network back to something resembling programming for Americans across the board.

But it looks like Bill Maher isn’t even close to the answer to that.

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Joe has spent more than 30 years as a reporter, copy editor and metro desk editor in newsrooms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida. He's been with Liftable Media since 2015.
Joe has spent more than 30 years as a reporter, copy editor and metro editor in newsrooms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida. He's been with Liftable Media since 2015. Largely a product of Catholic schools, who discovered Ayn Rand in college, Joe is a lifelong newspaperman who learned enough about the trade to be skeptical of every word ever written. He was also lucky enough to have a job that didn't need a printing press to do it.
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