Special Ed Math
When you have the ratings of MSNBC’s Ed Shultz, how do you spin them as positive to your audience?
The first requirement of Special Ed Math is to make sure that your listeners/viewers are not smart. This trick won’t work on anyone who is the least bit aware, inquisitive, or intelligent.
Once you’ve cleared that hurdle, as Ed easily does every day, you can implement your Ed Math to trick them into thinking you are successful. First, listen to the techniques in action, then we can discuss.
Ignoring than the absurd “gonna kick Fox’s ass” nonsense, this is a great window into how people like Schultz operate.
Schultz claims “in the month of August” to have beaten CNN by 1,200,000 in the 25-54 demographic. Anyone who knows anything about cable news ratings would immediately say “how can you beat a show by 1,200,000 people when you only get 176,000 viewers every night?”
Luckily for Ed, most regular people don’t follow cable news ratings, so they don’t know that. His audience just trusts that he’s telling the truth. So, how does Ed get to this mysterious 1,200,000 number? He takes his average margin of victory vs. CNN and multiplies it by 20. Since he had roughly 20 shows in the month of August he claims a 1,200,000 viewer victory.
It’s impossible to describe how disingenuous this is. Literally no one, ever, ever, would describe their ratings in this way if they were trying to be honest. He’s only using a cumulative monthly total to make the number seem large.
But, let’s just say Ed is dumb, and doesn’t realize how to talk about ratings. Certainly possible. Surely, he won’t pick an entirely different way to describe his loss to Fox then…right?
Wrong. When describing his loss to Fox, he comes up with a completely different measure. He picks one day, instead of the average for a month (as previously explained). But he doesn’t pick the most recent day, or a typical day, he picks his best day ever, intentionally skipping over at least two other days in between. Unsurprisingly, the days he skipped he lost by roughly twice as much.
Then, he doesn’t multiply that number by 20 like he did when talking about CNN–instead he takes his margin of defeat to Fox and DIVIDES it by 1,000. That gives him “103 points”. What 103 points means, is 103,000 viewers.
So here are the Ed Math equations:
When describing a win vs. CNN
(Avg margin of victory) times 20 = 1,200,000
When describing a loss vs. Fox News
(Margin of least embarrassing loss) divided by 1,000 = 103
There you go! Now you can tell your audience you’re winning by 1,200,000, but you’re only losing by 103.
Remember this next time he tells you a stat about health care.