Donald Trump’s town hall boosted CNN’s ratings to their highest in years, bringing in 3.3million viewers in his 8pm slot last night.
The audience was double that of Fox and MSNBC in the same hour, and makes a mockery of the 473,000 average CNN pulled in in March this year.
In the key demographic of 25-54, the ratings increased to 781,000 – five times the average.
The audience was double that of Fox and MSNBC in the same hour, and makes a mockery of the 473,000 average CNN pulled in in March this year
The town hall – Trump’s first appearance on network news for months and his first on a non-conservative network for years – has sparked widespread debate and controversy.
On the left, Democrats say CNN should never have given him such a platform.
They claim Collins was both unprepared and put in an ‘impossible position’, and that CNN was irresponsible to stack the audience with Republicans.
In the center, viewers were appalled by his relentless election fraud claims but embraced the event as an insight into Trump’s 2024 campaign.
Republicans and MAGA die-hards lapped it up.
Both CNN boss Chris Licht and Kaitlan Collins have been lampooned by both sides.
The blockbuster ratings were what Licht, whose been tasked with turning the network around, was hoping for.
Until the departure of Tucker Carlson suddenly last month, 3million viewers was an ordinary nightly audience for Fox.
CNN boss Chris Licht took over last year and vowed to cleanse the network of its bias. He has been slammed for giving Trump a platform
Ratings have dropped drastically in his absence.
CNN staffers like media reporter Oliver Darcy despaired over last night’s event, calling it a ‘spectacle of lies’ and fuming at Licht for the decision. Some unnamed employees told outlets like Rolling Stone that it was a ‘f*****g disgrace’, so intense was their disgust with Licht and the decision.
Unaffected by their rage, Licht heaped praise on moderator Kaitlan Collins, and warned detractors: ‘You do not have to like the former president’s answers, but you can’t say that we didn’t get them.
‘While we all may have been uncomfortable hearing people clapping, that was also an important part of the story because the people in that audience represent a large swath of America.
‘The mistake the media made in the past is ignoring that those people exist just like you cannot ignore that President Trump exists.
‘I absolutely unequivocally believe America was served very well by what we did last night.’
CNN media reporter Oliver Darcy raged at his network for the putting on the event
‘Covering Trump is tricky and messy and it will continue to be messy and tricky, but it’s our job,’ he said, according to former staffer Brian Stelter.
The immediate reaction from the left was shock and disgust, both at Trump’s comments and at CNN for giving him a platform.
Democrats and pundits like AOC and Joy Behar shared their disgust almost immediately.
CNN’s own reporter, Oliver Darcy, wrote: ‘It’s hard to see how America was served by the spectacle of lies that aired on CNN Wednesday evening.
‘Trump lied about the 2020 election. He took no responsibility for the January 6 insurrection that those very lies incited. And he mocked E. Jean Carroll’s allegations of sexual assault, which a jury found him liable for on Tuesday.
‘And CNN aired it all. On and on it went. It felt like 2016 all over again,’ Darcy wrote.
He said Licht, who took over from Jeff Zucker last year and has vowed to cleanse the network of its notorious bias, was now facing ‘a fury of criticism — both internally and externally’.
Other critics included CNBC’s Alex Sherman. Brian Stelter, CNN’s former media reporter, also chimed in
Slate Magazine called it a ‘disaster’ and lambasted CNN for giving Trump a full hour
‘A spectacle of lies’ is how Darcy characterized the event in his Reliable Sources newsletter
‘How Licht and other CNN executives address the criticism in the coming days and weeks will be crucial.
CNN defended the decision and Collins last night.
‘Tonight Kaitlan Collins exemplified what it means to be a world-class journalist. She asked tough, fair and revealing questions.
‘And she followed up and fact-checked President Trump in real time to arm voters with crucial information about his positions as he enters the 2024 election as the Republican frontrunner.”
‘That is CNN’s role and responsibility: to get answers and hold the powerful to account,’ a network spokesman said.
Since last year, CNN’s ratings have plummeted. In March, viewership in primetime hours was down by 61 percent.
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