CNN generated widespread disgust with its Trump-hyping “town hall” event, giving him free reign to spout conspiracy theories and misogyny for a moderator who used to hack out racist listicles for Ben Shapiro, to an audience of fans specifically instructed only to give applause. Afterward, top CNN presenter Anderson Cooper sanctimoniously lectured critics about the need to observe Trump and his followers–as if we hadn’t already seen seven years of it.
The verdict is in. CNN’s ratings have plummeted since and Anderson Cooper is now being beaten in his time slot by right-wing fringe channel Newsmax.
More than a week after CNN’s disastrous town hall with former President Donald Trump, the negative impact the fiasco had on the network’s ratings is coming into clearer focus. Last week, the cable news pioneer suffered its lowest-rated week since June 2015, averaging just 429,000 total daily viewers from Monday-Friday. CNN was also down double digits compared to the same week last year in both total viewership and in the key advertising demographic of viewers ages 25-54. MSNBC more than doubled CNN’s daily audience, drawing 976,000 total viewers, while Fox News averaged 1.4 million. Fox News was down 41 percent in the key demo year-to-year and 24 percent in total viewers, having seen its ratings plummet as angry right-wingers flee after Tucker Carlson’s shock firing
One thing CNN doesn’t get is that mainstream audiences do not in fact like the MAGA/QAnon/insurrection stuff being pushed on them outside straight news. It’s one thing to cover it endlessly, but to have it packaged as a prime-time circus, and then to lecture us about how we have some responsibility to educate ourselves by watching it, is too much. To scold us for not wanting more? Disgust really is the right word for how it makes people feel.