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Thurston, Blazakis Discuss Social Media Role in Spread of Q’Anon

According to a recent report from the Soufan Center, of which Blazakis was the lead author, 22 percent of those surveyed identified as Q’Anon members, while the number of those who subscribed to the conspiracy theories pushed by the group are much higher.

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Photo by Mike MacKenzie CC BY 2.0.

Pat Thurston of KGO 810 in San Francisco claimed that former President Donald Trump and social media websites like Facebook and Twitter, are “major contributors” in the rise and continued prevalence of the alt-right group Q’Anon. Thurston made the comments on Tuesday afternoon’s edition of The Pat Thurston Show.  She and guest Jason Blazakis of the  Soufan Center called on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites to do more in helping to slow the spread of Q’Anon conspiracy theories on their platforms, along with advocating teaching young people how to identify conspiracy theories online.

“I know it’s tougher with Q’Anon because it’s a group right here in the United States and we have Free Speech protected by the First Amendment,” Blazakis said. “If this was Isis or another foreign terrorist organization, the US government could get involved and sanction them. They can’t do that to domestic groups like Q’Anon because there are no legal mechanisms for them to do so. Companies in Silicon Valley also have to balance the reputational risk of allowing groups like Q’Anon to proliferate their space with the rights of Americans to Free Speech. I think we have seen small steps in the right direction by these companies, but they need to do more.”

Conspiracy theorists and groups like Q’Anon saw a sharp rise during the Trump presidency. According to a recent report from the Soufan Center, of which Blazakis was the lead author, 22 percent of those surveyed identified as Q’Anon members, while the number of those who subscribed to the conspiracy theories pushed by the group are much higher. A specific number was not mentioned on the program but similar polls find that it is at 55 percent within the Republican Party.

“This is scary, it’s like a cult,” Thurston said. “You have some really highly educated people, politicians and members of the military involved in this. And then there is former President Trump who was a major contributor to pushing these theories. He would constantly made the “Q” symbol with his hands and make references to the number 17. which is very important to the group. I’m not saying he was actively supporting them, but by not condemning the Q, they saw that as support and they made him out to be some kind of savior from a deep state global cabal That ultimately spilled over into the insurrection at the Capitol  on January, 6th.”

Blazakis agrees with the comparison to a cult.

“Like any cult, there is a grain of truth in what Q’Anon is saying. There is corruption in the world which is one of the things that Q’Anon says they are fighting against but then they say other things that are just not true. The tough thing is, these people believe they are patriots and doing the right thing and you can’t convince them otherwise.”

Blazakis believes that the key is educating children to discern fact from fiction on digital media platforms.

“We need to invest in teaching children digital media literacy at a very young age,” he said. “We are increasingly living in a virtual world. We need to teach young people how to identify conspiracy theory groups and leaders online and identify their false messaging.”

BNM Writers

America’s E-Bike Future

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes says he has had a great experience with his futuristic commuting method, and he believes that most Americans would feel the same.

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If only they’d give them a try, Americans would fall in love with E-Bikes. 

That is the opinion of MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, who discussed his newfound joy of commuting via an electric bike last week on his “All In with Chris Hayes” program. He has had a great experience with his futuristic commuting method, and he believes that most Americans would feel the same.

“Last fall, it was still Covid, and there was no vaccine, and I started to have to come into the studio to do the show,” Hayes began. “I had a little bit of a commuting problem. I didn’t want to start taking the subway at that point. I think there’s some of it that suggest that masking is pretty fine, but I was like, eh, I wasn’t that psyched about it. But I had to get from Brooklyn to Midtown, it’s about nine miles, and I had to do without the subway. I didn’t want to take a car every day. I came up with the ultimate solution – a foldable E-Bike.”

Hayes said he started to use the foldable e-Bike to make the 9-mile commute to the MSNBC Studios and then stored it in his office. Among its benefits, according to Hayes, was that he got to enjoy the sights of New York City while not arriving hot, sweaty, and disheveled for his television duties.

“Changed my life, best commute I have ever had in my life,” Hayes said, noting that he arrived each day “cool and clean.”

Hayes welcomed New York Times writer Jay Caspian Kang, who last week penned an Op-Ed titled “Free E-Bikes for Everyone!” Kang pointed out that his E-Bike conversion was much the same as Hayes’ and that his daughter now enjoys being brought to school on the bike. In addition, Kang said the bike had given him a liberating feeling, being able to travel to New York City after the past couple of years of Covid-related lockdowns.

“First of all, it’s a very cool feeling because you feel like a superhero. It’s like the vision I had as a kid of having a cyber-suit where you are like Ironman. It’s you, but you’re stronger,” Hayes said. “So when you’re pushing the pedals, there’s like this extra oomph, so you can put kids on it. You can run errands on it. It also means you’re not sweating in the same way. And it also just replaces a lot of car trips; I think that’s a key thing to think about.”

The MSNBC Segment by Hayes was titled “The Case For Giving Every American a Free E-Bike.”  

In his Times piece, Kang concurred, saying, “City governments should purchase an electronic bicycle for every resident over the age of 15 who wants one. They should also shut down a significant number of streets. Shutting down some streets for bikes is not only for safety but also because the more inconvenient driving becomes, the more people start to consider other options.” 

Some may see a similarity in this approach by Kang to the current president and administration increasing gasoline prices and the costs of many other goods. However, administration officials have made clear that one clear benefit and objective of these rising costs will be to change citizens’ behavior, similar to the change Kang hopes to see if New York were to use tax dollars to give bikes to New Yorkers.

“We have to get cars off the street somehow,” Kang said. “We have to get cars off the road somehow for every reason. Pedestrian safety, bike safety. But mostly because of climate change and the carbon that they emit. So I don’t know; I think you need to develop some kind of drastic measure that also incentivizes people. And I think that we’ve been waiting around for some sort of solution to this. I don’t know; I think every single person that I talk to who has ridden an E-Bike, and who has sort of committed to it in a way, has said it has replaced tons of their car trips.”

Kang said the only problem with having more people adopt the emerging technology is the expense, citing the high cost per E-Bike. (A quick internet search finds many E-Bikes priced near $1500 apiece.) Kang opined that only by “giving them away for free” could the plan be brought to fruition. 

“If you’re going to get cars off the road, you’re going to need something to replace that,” Kang said. “People are still going to want some sort of speed; they’re still going to want some sort of convenience. E-Bikes are the way right now.”

Hayes wrapped up the segment, saying that the key is for planners to think ahead and assess what cities, and suburban areas, would need as they move into the future. And as the holiday approached, he said he would soon be heading out on his E-Bike to pick up his Thanksgiving pies. 

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BNM Writers

Kyle Rittenhouse, Ahmaud Arbery Trials Captivate the Nation

The trial of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery from Georgia aired for 27 hours on HLN across Nov. 15-18 in daytime, averaging 288,000 total viewers and matching the demo from Rittenhouse — 67,000 adults 25-54.

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Both trials of Kyle Rittenhouse and those charged with the killing of Ahmaud Arbery continued to captivate the nation during the week of Nov. 15.

The announcement of Rittenhouse being acquitted on all counts including manslaughter occurred on the afternoon of Friday, Nov. 19, from Kenosha, Wisconsin. From 1-2 p.m. Eastern (noon-1 p.m. Central), Fox News Channel dominated the news landscape in breaking news coverage with 3.16 million total viewers and 620,000 viewers within the key 25-54 demographic, according to Nielsen Media Research. CNN was a distant runner-up in cable news in each key figure; they posted 1.23 million total viewers and 318,000 adults 25-54. MSNBC was close behind CNN in total audience with 1.19 million viewers but with 173,000 adults 25-54, earned about half of CNN’s demo delivery.

The rankings of the cable news networks remained in the following hour (2-3 p.m. ET) with featured reactions to Rittenhouse’s acquittal including from his attorney who had addressed reporters. Fox News Channel rose to 3.58 million total viewers and 761,000 adults 25-54. CNN also grew but only slightly: 1.23 million total viewers and 332,000 adults 25-54 (CNN’s top 25-54 hour of Nov. 15-21). Meanwhile, MSNBC was approximately steady: from 2-2:35 p.m. ET: 1.15 million total viewers / 182,000 adults 25-54; for Rittenhouse’s attorney address from 2:35-2:58 p.m. ET: 1.015 million total viewers / 172,000 adults 25-54.

Fox News Channel continued to thrive on Monday, Nov. 22 when Rittenhouse was interviewed by Tucker Carlson for his “Tucker Carlson Tonight” that evening. Rittenhouse had relayed to the Fox News host: “I’m not a racist person. I support the BLM movement. I support peacefully demonstrating. I believe there needs to be change. I believe there’s a lot of prosecutorial misconduct, not just in my case but in other cases. It’s just amazing to see how much a prosecutor can take advantage of someone.” “Tucker Carlson Tonight” posted its most-watched edition since Jan. 6 (hours following the Capitol insurrection): 5.05 million total viewers, a 3.0 household rating and approximately 912,000 adults 25-54.

Back to Nov. 19, 239,000 viewers tuned in to CNN-owned HLN for the Rittenhouse verdict at 1-2 p.m. ET; 211,000 for the verdict’s aftermath in the 2-3 p.m. ET hour. Its eleven hours of Rittenhouse trial coverage on Nov. 15 and Nov. 19 averaged 295,000 viewers and 67,000 adults 25-54.

The trial of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery from Georgia aired for 27 hours on HLN across Nov. 15-18 in daytime, averaging 288,000 total viewers and matching the demo from Rittenhouse — 67,000 adults 25-54.

Compared to last week’s total day delivery, HLN increased 14 percent in total audience. The network drew the most weekly total viewers since Apr. 19-25 (244,000).

Cable news averages for November 15-21, 2021. Fox News Channel extended their streaks to 40 weeks as cable’s most-watched network in total viewers..

Total Day (November 15-21 @ 6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 1.784 million viewers; 326,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 0.746 million viewers; 87,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.549 million viewers; 118,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.241 million viewers; 71,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.148 million viewers; 21,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.144 million viewers; 35,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.107 million viewers; 13,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.099 million viewers; 21,000 adults 25-54

Prime Time (November 15-20 @ 8-11 p.m.; November 21 @ 7-11 p.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 2.945 million viewers; 518,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 1.217 million viewers; 141,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.719 million viewers; 157,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.225 million viewers; 71,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.165 million viewers; 25,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.156 million viewers; 43,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.115 million viewers; 23,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.051 million viewers; 9,000 adults 25-54

Top 10 most-watched cable news programs (and the top MSNBC and CNN programs with their respective associated ranks) in total viewers:

1. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Fri. 11/19/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 4.323 million viewers

2. The Five (FOXNC, Fri. 11/19/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 4.203 million viewers

3. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 11/15/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.960 million viewers

4. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 11/16/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.927 million viewers

5. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 11/16/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.907 million viewers

6. Hannity (FOXNC, Fri. 11/19/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.788 million viewers

7. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 11/17/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.727 million viewers

8. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 11/18/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.672 million viewers

9. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 11/15/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.640 million viewers

10. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 11/17/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.630 million viewers

53. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Wed. 11/17/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.163 million viewers

128. CNN Newsroom “Rittenhouse Trial Verdict” (CNN, Fri. 11/19/2021 2:00 PM, 60 min.) 1.273 million viewers

Top 10 cable news programs (and the top CNN, MSNBC and HLN programs with their respective associated ranks) among adults 25-54:

1. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Fri. 11/19/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.913 million adults 25-54

2. The Five (FOXNC, Fri. 11/19/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.791 million adults 25-54

3. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 11/15/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.774 million adults 25-54

4. Special Report with Bret Baier (FOXNC, Mon. 11/15/2021 6:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.763 million adults 25-54

5. America Reports (FOXNC, Fri. 11/19/2021 2:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.761 million adults 25-54

6. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 11/16/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.752 million adults 25-54

7. Hannity (FOXNC, Fri. 11/19/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.724 million adults 25-54

8. The Story (FOXNC, Fri. 11/19/2021 3:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.700 million adults 25-54

9. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 11/17/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.681 million adults 25-54

10. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 11/15/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.668 million adults 25-54

69. CNN Newsroom “Rittenhouse Trial Verdict” (CNN, Fri. 11/19/2021 2:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.332 million adults 25-54

86. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Wed. 11/17/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.281 million adults 25-54

178. Forensic Files “Order Up” (HLN, late Tue. 11/16/2021 2:30 AM, 30 min.) 0.168 million adults 25-54

Source: Live+Same Day data, Nielsen Media Research

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BNM Writers

Networks Benefit From Interest In Rittenhouse, Arbery Trials

“The trial of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery from Georgia aired for 27 hours on HLN across Nov. 15-18 in daytime, averaging 288,000 total viewers and matching the demo from Rittenhouse — 67,000 adults 25-54.”

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Both trials of Kyle Rittenhouse and those charged with the killing of Ahmaud Arbery continued to captivate the nation during the week of Nov. 15.

The announcement of Rittenhouse being acquitted on all counts including manslaughter occurred on the afternoon of Friday, Nov. 19, from Kenosha, Wisconsin. From 1-2 p.m. Eastern (noon-1 p.m. Central), Fox News Channel dominated the news landscape in breaking news coverage with 3.16 million total viewers and 620,000 viewers within the key 25-54 demographic, according to Nielsen Media Research. CNN was a distant runner-up in cable news in each key figure; they posted 1.23 million total viewers and 318,000 adults 25-54. MSNBC was close behind CNN in total audience with 1.19 million viewers but with 173,000 adults 25-54, earned about half of CNN’s demo delivery.

The rankings of the cable news networks remained in the following hour (2-3 p.m. ET) with featured reactions to Rittenhouse’s acquittal including from his attorney who had addressed reporters. Fox News Channel rose to 3.58 million total viewers and 761,000 adults 25-54. CNN also grew but only slightly: 1.23 million total viewers and 332,000 adults 25-54 (CNN’s top 25-54 hour of Nov. 15-21). Meanwhile, MSNBC was approximately steady: from 2-2:35 p.m. ET: 1.15 million total viewers / 182,000 adults 25-54; for Rittenhouse’s attorney address from 2:35-2:58 p.m. ET: 1.015 million total viewers / 172,000 adults 25-54.

Fox News Channel continued to thrive on Monday, Nov. 22 when Rittenhouse was interviewed by Tucker Carlson for his “Tucker Carlson Tonight” that evening. Rittenhouse had relayed to the Fox News host: “I’m not a racist person. I support the BLM movement. I support peacefully demonstrating. I believe there needs to be change. I believe there’s a lot of prosecutorial misconduct, not just in my case but in other cases. It’s just amazing to see how much a prosecutor can take advantage of someone.” “Tucker Carlson Tonight” posted its most-watched edition since Jan. 6 (hours following the Capitol insurrection): 5.05 million total viewers, a 3.0 household rating and approximately 912,000 adults 25-54.

Back to Nov. 19, 239,000 viewers tuned in to CNN-owned HLN for the Rittenhouse verdict at 1-2 p.m. ET; 211,000 for the verdict’s aftermath in the 2-3 p.m. ET hour. Its eleven hours of Rittenhouse trial coverage on Nov. 15 and Nov. 19 averaged 295,000 viewers and 67,000 adults 25-54.

The trial of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery from Georgia aired for 27 hours on HLN across Nov. 15-18 in daytime, averaging 288,000 total viewers and matching the demo from Rittenhouse — 67,000 adults 25-54.

Compared to last week’s total day delivery, HLN increased 14 percent in total audience. The network drew the most weekly total viewers since Apr. 19-25 (244,000).

Cable news averages for November 15-21, 2021. Fox News Channel extended their streaks to 40 weeks as cable’s most-watched network in total viewers..

Total Day (November 15-21 @ 6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 1.784 million viewers; 326,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 0.746 million viewers; 87,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.549 million viewers; 118,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.241 million viewers; 71,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.148 million viewers; 21,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.144 million viewers; 35,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.107 million viewers; 13,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.099 million viewers; 21,000 adults 25-54

Prime Time (November 15-20 @ 8-11 p.m.; November 21 @ 7-11 p.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 2.945 million viewers; 518,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 1.217 million viewers; 141,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.719 million viewers; 157,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.225 million viewers; 71,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.165 million viewers; 25,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.156 million viewers; 43,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.115 million viewers; 23,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.051 million viewers; 9,000 adults 25-54

Top 10 most-watched cable news programs (and the top MSNBC and CNN programs with their respective associated ranks) in total viewers:

1. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Fri. 11/19/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 4.323 million viewers

2. The Five (FOXNC, Fri. 11/19/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 4.203 million viewers

3. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 11/15/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.960 million viewers

4. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 11/16/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.927 million viewers

5. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 11/16/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.907 million viewers

6. Hannity (FOXNC, Fri. 11/19/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.788 million viewers

7. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 11/17/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.727 million viewers

8. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 11/18/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.672 million viewers

9. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 11/15/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.640 million viewers

10. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 11/17/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.630 million viewers

53. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Wed. 11/17/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.163 million viewers

128. CNN Newsroom “Rittenhouse Trial Verdict” (CNN, Fri. 11/19/2021 2:00 PM, 60 min.) 1.273 million viewers

Top 10 cable news programs (and the top CNN, MSNBC and HLN programs with their respective associated ranks) among adults 25-54:

1. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Fri. 11/19/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.913 million adults 25-54

2. The Five (FOXNC, Fri. 11/19/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.791 million adults 25-54

3. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 11/15/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.774 million adults 25-54

4. Special Report with Bret Baier (FOXNC, Mon. 11/15/2021 6:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.763 million adults 25-54

5. America Reports (FOXNC, Fri. 11/19/2021 2:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.761 million adults 25-54

6. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 11/16/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.752 million adults 25-54

7. Hannity (FOXNC, Fri. 11/19/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.724 million adults 25-54

8. The Story (FOXNC, Fri. 11/19/2021 3:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.700 million adults 25-54

9. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 11/17/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.681 million adults 25-54

10. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 11/15/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.668 million adults 25-54

69. CNN Newsroom “Rittenhouse Trial Verdict” (CNN, Fri. 11/19/2021 2:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.332 million adults 25-54

86. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Wed. 11/17/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.281 million adults 25-54

178. Forensic Files “Order Up” (HLN, late Tue. 11/16/2021 2:30 AM, 30 min.) 0.168 million adults 25-54

Source: Live+Same Day data, Nielsen Media Research

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