Saturday, March 18, 2006

Is Bret Hume going to set up "Fox Network News?"

I get Bret here in the islands at 1pm. "U.S. News" had this squib today.

"The steady creep to the top for Brit Hume's nightly Special Report on Fox--not just the No.1 Washington-originated cable show but also the fourth in all basic cable at 6 p.m.--has the host eyeing the next victim. "We've been having a series of meetings here about how we can beat Nickelodeon," he says. "We just hope that they don't put SpongeBob SquarePants up against us." Fun aside, Hume's hourlong mix of news and debate now reaches 1.5 million nightly while dominating the key 25-to-54 age demographic. And it happened in a very un-Fox-like way: without fanfare, even though Hume has recently surged to the No. 2 spot among all cable news shows, after Bill O'Reilly.
When Special Report started in 1998, the goal was giving the growing Washington bureau some visibility. Now the top audience-getter of Washington shows, including CNN's Situation Room and MSNBC's Hardball, Hume says, "We kind of pinch ourselves." Like a good boss--Hume is the managing editor of the D.C. bureau--he credits his news team. But the "poisonous" mood in Washington doesn't hurt either. "For those who have a rooting interest in it," he says, "they want to hear about it."
While beating the pants off SpongeBob is a long-term goal, Hume has a more immediate worry: No. 12 ESPN's March Madness coverage. "If they've got games on at 6 at night," he frets, "that's gonna be tough.""


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