Many cable news networks foolishly decided last month to limit airtime for President Donald Trump’s White House coronavirus briefings, but not Fox News.
Trump was the dominant force boosting cable news ratings on Tuesday, according to Nielsen Media Research. The 6 p.m. show, Special Report with Bret Baier, is now a ratings hit thanks to its dependable broadcasting of the daily briefings, hosted by the president and featuring members of the White House coronavirus task force.
Many viewers are changing channels to Fox News when news outlets like CNN cut away from the president so the anchors can grumble and nitpick about what he said and how he said it.
Fox News clocked 5.59 million viewers overall for that time slot on Tuesday and an impressive 1.22 million viewers in the 25-54 demo, a favorite of advertisers.
Baier’s show even drew more viewers than perennial ratings winner Sean Hannity. His hit show Hannity nabbed the top spot in cable television news on Tuesday night, drawing a total of 4.79 million viewers and 1.02 million in the demo. He got a nice ratings bump from a telephone interview with the president.
Trump’s critics complain that he uses coveted airtime to make dubious claims about his response to the coronavirus pandemic and spread misinformation.
Seattle NPR member station KUOW issued a ludicrous statement in March explaining its decision to stop broadcasting live daily briefings. “After airing the White House briefings live for two weeks, a pattern of false information and exaggeration increasingly had many at KUOW questioning whether these briefings were in the best service of our mission — to create and serve a more informed public,” the station claimed. “Of even greater concern was the potential impact of false information on the health and safety of our community.”
CNN’s Don Lemon said, “I am not sure, if you want to be honest, that we should carry that live. I think we should run snippets. I think we should do it afterward and get the pertinent points to the American people, because he’s never, ever going to tell you the truth.” Describing the briefings as Trump’s new Apprentice, Lemon said he “wants his base to think the media’s being mean to him and they’re attacking him.”
The network cut away from a Monday briefing in March when Trump brought to the stage his longtime supporter Michael Lindell, CEO of MyPillow, along with other company bosses. They were highlighting the ways in which their companies were assisting with the pandemic response. The CNN anchors didn’t like the nice things they were saying about the president.
Vice President Mike Pence’s office is now blocking CNN’s access to administration health officials in protest over the network’s coverage of the daily briefings.
“When you guys cover the briefings with the health officials, then you can expect them back on your air,” a Pence spokesperson told CNN Thursday.
CNN’s news ratings peaked at 5 p.m. on Tuesday — when the update started — with 654,000 on the demo and 2.19 million in total, less than half the number of viewers watching Fox News.
MSNBC’s Chris Hayes said in March the briefings have “morphed into something akin to Trump rallies without the crowds,” adding, “The briefings are where he casts his failures in the most positive light.
Last Tuesday MSNBC cut away when Trump started talking about his implementation of travel restrictions to curb the spread of the virus. “We did catch it early and we stopped China really early and we stopped Europe really early ’cause I saw what was happening,” said the president.
Trump’s ban on travel from China in particular drew widespread criticism from the media along with accusations of xenophobia.
MSNBC placed third in viewership for the briefing on Tuesday — drawing a pathetic 262,000 in the demo and 1.66 million overall in the 6 p.m. hour.