Hillary Clinton’s 11-hour Benghazi hearing was no match for her crowd-pleasing performance at last week’s Democratic debate on CNN, ratings-wise. The CNN event, which most navel lint gazers called a clear Clinton win, drew a whopping 16 million viewers on October 13. Still, the three cable news networks managed Thursday to whip up a collective 4 million viewers willing to watch an hours-long interrogation between 10 AM and 5 PM ET. That 5 PM is when Fox News Channel became the first cable news net to pull away from its camera-trained-on-hearing coverage, as Clinton’s voice grew hoarser, chairman Trey Gowdy’s face grew shinier, and viewers grew wearier.
Fox News Channel, to the surprise of no one, scored that block of time’s biggest crowd: 2.2 million viewers. MSNBC, while trailing FNC, also had a hit on its hands with Hillary’s Benghazi hearing, clocking 876K viewers (a 146% improvement on the network’s September average). CNN scored 827K viewers, and it too was up, by 35%, which is impressive given that, in September, CNN had hosted the second GOP debate that copped the biggest crowd in CNN history, about 23 million viewers. (FNC’s GOP debate aired in August and CNN’s Dem debate this month). FNC’s gain versus September was 72%.
Similar story in the news demo, where FNC logged 348K, CNN 145K, and MSNBC nabbed 117K.
In primetime, the cable-net crowd climbed to 5.2M.
Fox News Channel maintained its lead despite pulling away from the hearing – or maybe because it pulled away – to ruminate on the hearing some, and on other topics more pleasant for its viewers. In primetime, FNC averaged 2.6M viewers, MSNBC 1.4M viewers and CNN averaged 1.3M viewers.
Ditto the news demo, where FNC led with 465K, followed by CNN’s 288K and MSNBC’s 233K.
In primetime, The Kelly File was No. 1 in the news demo last night among cable news programs, (534K), while The O’Reilly Factor dominated in overall audience (3.128M).
“In terms of the narrative on Benghazi, there was no major new development that rocked [Clinton’s] side of the story, that changes this in some way,” Fox News Chief White House correspondent Ed Henry announced on Greta Van Susteren’s show as FNC pulled away from the hearing to talk about the hearing. Henry said an anonymous source working in the camp of what he described as a “top tier” GOP White House contender had declared that, “For the second straight big event, Hillary Clinton looked presidential and was in command” and that it was a “total wipeout for the Republicans.”