CNN’s play to attract conservative viewers by hosting a Donald Trump town hall backfired, and the network’s viewership numbers have plunged.
The New Republic reported, “There appears to have been a rather serious knock-on effect of broadcasting the town hall. In the weeks after the former president appeared on CNN, the network’s ratings have plummeted. In fact, its ratings last week were the worst the network has posted since June 2015—a momentous month in American politics, given Trump’s now infamous escalator ride. The network averaged just 429,000 total daily viewers from Monday to Friday, per data cited to The Daily Beast—less than half of those of MSNBC and Fox News.”
CNN went from averaging 587,000 viewers to 429,000 viewers after the Trump town hall, which means that the decision to give Donald Trump airtime cost the network nearly 160,000 daily viewers. What is even worse is that according to TVNewser, CNN had been showing year-over-year gains in viewership before the Trump fiasco.
Trump is not a draw anymore. Trump fatigue is very real, and the former president has been using the same script for eight years. He is stale, and CNN found out the hard way that Trump doesn’t drive ratings. Instead, he pushes viewers away.
The backlash against CNN demonstrates that the polls are underestimating the Trump Effect. If Trump is the Republican nominee, he is likely to push away voters the way that he repelled viewers on CNN.
The message for every other network is that if they climb into bed with Donald Trump, they should be prepared to lose viewers.
Jason is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association