When it comes to television ratings, it is too often an example of that old adage that figures do not lie, but liars figure. If you surgically analyze all the variables in the rating matrix, almost any slick-sleeve public relations practitioner can make anything look like a winner. This is done by ignoring the basic overarching statistics and manipulating others to concoct a good sounding – if not totally accurate – picture.

In analyzing ratings, the Washington Post suggested that they should be “treated like exposed wiring in a flooded basement. Do not touch.” That caution comes into play when considering the latest chest-pounding claim by MSNBC.

If we are to believe the network’s publicity, their ratings have “surged” past the king-of-the-mountain media giant FOX News for the week of December 17th – a 17-year first. That sounds pretty impressive.

But I bet you are like me. You assume that a week has seven days. Apparently not at MSNBC. They calculated their “surge” on a five-day week – and only on the Rachel Maddow Show. So why would they do that? Because if they look at the ratings for the entire seven day week, FOX comes out on top … yet again.

MSNBC and even CNN can carve out their participation prizes – CNN noting that it had its best midterm election year ever. That begs the question: Compared to what? Previous abysmal ratings. But in terms of the all-important championship round, FOX remains the unchallenged leader in all of cable television.

There also needs to be a footnote on the Rachel Maddow claim. There is no doubt that taking over the time-slot for even one day from the top-rated Hannity Show on FOX is an achievement, but it occurred when Hannity, himself, was on vacation.

Apart from the hyperbolic claims of a surge, it is noteworthy – and scary — that MSNBC has been experiencing a slow ascent over the past few years. Most folks are surprised that MSNBC has long ago surpassed the more famous CNN – the station that the spans the globe and seems to the be the cable news of choice in every medical waiting room, airport and sports bar.

Though still far behind FOX in overall viewership – the most important rating – MSNBC’s growing popularity should be of concern to anyone who believes in the importance of a fair, balanced and honest Fourth Estate. MSNBC is viciously biased throughout the broadcast day. Its only appeal is to those in the increasingly left-wing Democrat base who want news that appeals to their own prejudices – it is spleen over brain, indoctrination over education.

In many ways, MSNBC should be thankful for President Trump. The left-wing elitist media has been able to promote hatred of Trump, Republicans and conservatives into an equally hateful following. MSNBC has aroused the rabble on the left, who now embrace propaganda as their primary source of information. It is one of the hallmarks of authoritarianism. Alternative opinions are not only unwelcome, but they are oppressed by social censorship – the kind we see on campuses, among political activists and in the elitist media. It is the stock-in-trade of MSNBC. Being told what to think is not thinking. It is submission.

The greater the number of people who lock on MSNBC, the greater the threat to an informed public – and that a threat to personal freedom. It is not comforting to see their ratings rise. It means the Philistines are gaining.

So, there ‘tis