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Fox News was the most-watched outlet on broadcast and cable last week for its coverage of the US evacuation from Afghanistan. According to data from Nielsen, FNC averaged 2.94 million viewers for the week of August 16-22.
FNC routinely tops cable competitors. However, outranking the broadcast networks, which are in far more homes, is rare. The AP notes that the last time FNC ranked No. 1 overall was in September 2020 after Chris Wallace moderated the debate between then-President Donald Trump and Joe Biden. You remember that, don’t you?
Several Fox News programs also drew their highest-rated weeks of the year during that same time period: America Reports, America Newsroom, The Faulkner Focus, The Five, Fox and Friends, Gutfeld, Your World with Neil Cavuto, and Fox News Primetime hosted by Will Cain.
Tellingly, MSNBC’s ratings dipped from the previous week, while CNN gained 21%. MSNBC dropped because liberal viewers were not interested in hearing about Biden’s blunders. Once they realized MSNBC couldn’t effectively blame Trump for the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan — its viewers were out. Off to Hulu or something.
So you might ask yourself: why was CNN’s viewership up significantly?
Though CNN and MSNBC are similar in talking points and ideologies, casual news viewers still view CNN as a moderate alternative to MSNBC and Fox News, despite years of evidence to contrary. As a result, outside viewers tune into CNN during consequential news periods then leave once the story subsides. Recent examples of this rollercoaster include the 2020 election and the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot. In both cases, CNN rose well above its average, then fell hard.
Here are the averages for each network last week:
- Fox News, 2.94 million viewers
- CBS, 2.57 million
- NBC, 2.53 million
- ABC, 2.39 million
- Fox, 1.38 million
- MSNBC, 1.2 million
- CNN, 943,00