Hardball & Countdown Are Challenging CNN, & Not Just Because Of Olympics

By Brian 

Washington Whispers notices MSNBC’s recent ratings advances between 6 and 9pm.

In the 25-54 demo, “The Abrams Report has seen a 35 percent jump in just a year, though it still lags behind [Lou] Dobbs. But Hardball With Chris Matthews, up 52 percent, edges [Wolf] Blitzer by 1,000 viewers in the demo, and Countdown With Keith Olbermann, up 39 percent, ties [Paula] Zahn,” Paul Bedard writes.

CNN spokesperson Edie Emery responds with a reference to MSNBC’s Olympics boost: “People were tuning in to watch Bode Miller slip and slide down a ski slope, and they got Chris Matthews instead.”

But the ratings described above aren’t February numbers — they are first quarter to date numbers. They include January, February, and half of March. It seems almost undeniable now that MSNBC has established a foothold at 7 and 8pm…