The Mainstream Media is really hoping that the presidential election will be the ticket to higher TV ratings and more newspaper sales because, man, they could really use the help. But the results so far aren't too encouraging. Instead of an explosion of people rushing home after work to catch Brian Williams' reasoned analysis of election strategy, it turns out that those people are rushing to upstart internet sites, argumentative cable news programs, and trashy magazines for their campaign coverage. Which just goes to show that-barring a nip slip-not even Barack Obama's hallowed visage can save media platforms that are on their way down. Ratings for cable shows like Hardball and Countdown have "risen sharply" during the campaign. The Politico's website is blowing up, with more readers than "more than all but 13 American newspapers." Political ads are more popular on YouTube than political news broadcasts. Us Weekly saw a bigger bump with its Obama cover than actual political magazines did. And the nightly news broadcasts just keep sadly puttering along:

More noticeably, the broadcast networks' evening newscasts - the traditional standard-bearers of television news - have been unable to stop their long-term ratings declines, even during the hotly contested primaries. The newscasts on NBC, ABC and CBS had an average combined audience of 23.7 million viewers from January to June, down 2 percent from the same time period in 2007.