President Donald Trump and CNN should be, in a symbiotic sense, the best of enemies.
CNN’s coverage of Trump — which roams between censorious outrage and really censorious outrage — allows the president to point to the network as an example of the mainstream media’s bias against him and, in a wider sense, conservatives.
CNN, meanwhile, should be able to capitalize on the president’s tendency to call it things like “very fake news” and kick Jim Acosta out of White House news briefings to garner monster ratings, taking over the mantle of the official network of #TheResistance from MSNBC.
Of course, I say should. In reality, CNN hasn’t quite been able to make it work, particularly in the run-up to the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. In fact, CNN had its lowest ratings of the year for the week of April 8-12, according to Nielsen Research.
Not only did CNN finish behind Fox News and MSNBC, according to The Daily Caller, CNN finished all the way back in 15th — behind A&E, the Food Network and Discovery Channel.
And of course, the president was quite shaken up by this:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 22, 2019
“From April 8-12, the network only averaged an audience of 690,000 people and 180,000 in the key 25-54 age demographic,” The Daily Caller reported.
“Comparatively, last week, MSNBC’s prime time lineup averaged 1,600,000 viewers with 249,000 in the key demo. Fox News managed to beat CNN and MSNBC combined, with a total viewership of 2,438,000 and 394,000 in the age range.”
To be fair, the week continued CNN’s tradition of town hall meetings with 2020 Democrat presidential candidates. However, not all candidates are created equal.
The week’s lineup included Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro of Texas and Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington; if you combined the percentage of the vote those three candidates pulled in the RealClearPolitics polling average, their collective 2.1 percent strength would still put them in eighth place.
If Sen. Kamala Harris’ January town hall was like a Red Sox-Yankees playoff game when it came to relative ratings strength — it set a CNN record, according to The Hollywood Reporter — the slate of town halls from April 8-12 was a bit like watching a Marlins-Padres doubleheader in the middle of September.
Or rather, not watching it: Castro drew 654,000 viewers, Inslee 549,000 and Gillibrand a paltry 507,000 viewers.
But yet again, I point to relative ratings strength — The Daily Caller has noted that every single one of the 12 town halls CNN has hosted, including Harris’, has lost to programming on Fox News and MSNBC.
Now, for the president, there’s probably a certain element of satisfaction here.
As The Hill notes, while “Trump has appeared in interviews on Fox News and Fox Business more than 40 times since taking office,” he “has not appeared on CNN since August 2016 when he was a candidate.” Not only that, he’s called CNN “very fake news”
That satisfaction will probably continue. The Barr letter took most of the wind out of the sails of both CNN and MSNBC, and while the redacted Muller report probably got some interest back, tepid interest in impeachment on dubious obstruction charges isn’t exactly as interesting as wild conspiracy theories regarding Russian collusion.
In short, expect to see a lot more tweets like this from the president.
Theoretically, this bad blood should be a good thing for both Trump and CNN. As of right now, it only seems to be working in one direction.
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