By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers.
No. 2 in the nation's capital couldn't be a sweeter position for Chris Wallace's Fox News Sunday. That's because when it comes to the all-important bragging rights for who counts on Sunday TV in the president's hometown, it means a lot to play the Avis role to TV's public affairs Hertz, which is NBC's Meet the Press. With the 2008 Nielsen TV market figures in hand, the champion's cup for the Washington market went, as usual, to Meet, now led by the very able David Gregory. They scored a big average of 140,000 total viewers, with 63,000 in the key ages 25-54 demographic. That's a given in TV world. But second was the newest member of the Sunday news programming, Fox News Sunday, with an average of 56,000 total viewers and 27,000 in the 25-54 demo. Third and fourth? This Week and Face the Nation.
While it may sound silly that the anchors of these shows fight for the No. 2 spot in Washington, for their newsmaker bookers, it is very important. The reason is simple: Guests most want to be seen in Washington where their friends, enemies, and reporters writing about what they say live. Thus, it's an impact thing.
"Washington, D.C., is where the nation's policymakers, political leaders, and opinion-makers are watching the Sunday public affairs programs," says Marty Ryan, Wallace's executive producer. "Fox News Sunday ' s strong performance in the nation's capital underscores how many of the country's leaders are tuning in each week to watch the show. Chris Wallace is a tough and fair interviewer who knocks guests off their talking points, and he makes news with his hard-hitting interviews."