CNN’s Wednesday town hall featuring former President Donald Trump reportedly yielded ratings about five times higher than the network’s typical viewership in the 8 p.m. hour among the 25-54 age demographic.
The network scored 3.12 million total viewers and 703,000 viewers in the key 25-54 age demographic in the 8 p.m. hour, Nielsen Fast National reported Wednesday.
In recent weeks, CNN’s prime-time average hung around half a million viewers, well behind Fox and MSNBC.
That is “five times higher than CNN’s typical performance at 8pm,” Brian Stelter tweeted. “The event outdated Fox and MSNBC.”
About 1.410 million peopled viewed Fox News, while MSNBC had 1.370 million. During the Tucker Carlson era, Fox News drew about three million each night.
Trump likely brought CNN much larger ratings than Nielsen estimated.
“Early data does not reflect the town hall’s full viewership as later numbers will; both CNN.com and CNN’s apps aired the town hall live as well, numbers which will be released later in the day,” Mediate reported.
The town hall was billed to viewers as a Republican-oriented forum, an opportunity for voters to ask Trump questions about policy. But it grew more into a debate between Trump and host Kaitlan Collins, providing Trump a platform to win approval from the audience, who concluded the event’s coverage by giving the president a standing ovation:
Standing ovation for Donald Trump at the CNN Town Hall— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) May 11, 2023
Trump’s rare appearance on the network — highlighted by the outcome — resulted in CNN employees publicly disagreeing with network head Chris Licht on whether or not “America was served” by hosting Trump.
“America was served very well by what we did last night,” CNN’s CEO Licht apparently told Thursday’s 9:00 a.m. editorial call. Covering Trump is “tricky and messy” and will “continue to be messy and tricky,” he allegedly argued.
“[It is] hard to see how America was served by the spectacle of lies that aired on CNN Wednesday evening,” Oliver Darcy, CNN’s senior media reporter, directly contradicted Licht.
“And CNN aired it all. On and on it went. It felt like 2016 all over again,” he added in a company-wide newsletter. “[F]or most of the night, the nation’s eyes were transfixed on Trump’s abuse of the platform that he was given.”