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CNN touts its Kamala Harris town hall as record-breaking, but those pesky facts tell another story

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Turns out that CNN’s boast about the town hall with Sen. Kamala Harris was not really the “most watched cable news single candidate election town hall ever.”

The network touted the town hall with the Democratic 2020 presidential hopeful in a misleading statement on Tuesday, claiming a cable news network record had been shattered by the Monday broadcast.

(Image: screenshot)

“Monday night’s CNN Town Hall with Senator Kamala Harris was the most watched cable news single candidate election town hall ever,” CNN said in the statement, claiming an average of 1.957 million viewers.

“The town hall averaged 712k among adults 25-54 from 10-11pm, easily topping all cable news competition. CNN was also #1 in prime time in the demos last night,” the network added, citing Nielsen data.

But the reality is that a Fox News town hall in 2016 far exceeded the CNN viewership.

Hosted by Sean Hannity in August 2016, the event featured then-candidate Donald Trump and racked up 2.7 million viewers, according to the Washington Examiner. That town hall reportedly boosted Hannity’s ratings by 32 percent in total viewers at the time, according to Deadline Hollywood.

Initial reports on the CNN announcement had to be adjusted by outlets like Mediaite, Politico, and the Washington Examiner to reflect that the record was set only for CNN and not all of cable news. The town hall, moderated by CNN anchor, Jake Tapper, saw the California Democratic senator discuss her controversial plan to eliminate private health insurance.

CNN did not respond to the Washington Examiner’s request for comment on its town hall statement.

Meanwhile, Fox News noted its own milestone in a press release noting it has held the spot as the number one cable news network for 17 consecutive years according to Nielsen Media Research. The network ushered in 2019 by achieving 31 consecutive months as the most-watched basic cable network in total day viewership, according to AdWeek.

Boasting 1.3 million total viewers for the month of January, Fox News Channel was the second most-watched network during primetime in all of basic cable, with 2.2 million total viewers.

Six of the top 10 cable news programs in total viewers were Fox News shows, with “Hannity” ranking number one in total viewers in January for a non-college football programming cable telecast and finishing the month with over 3 million viewers.

The updated reports on the misleading CNN announcement sparked reaction on Twitter.

Frieda Powers


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