Donald Trump won primetime last night among cable news networks. The GOP frontrunner’s sit-down with Anderson Cooper clocked 3.4M viewers and 989K news-demo viewers in the final hour of CNN’s marathon two-night six hour town hall with GOP candidates.
Overall, CNN second night of town-hall-ing delivered a winning 2.88M primetime viewers last night and 780K news demo viewers. Fox News Channel followed with 2.23M and 424K viewers in the 25-54 age bracket. MSNBC, which last night town-halled Dem White House hopefuls Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secy of State Hillary Clinton, logged 1.46M viewers and 314K news demo viewers for the full primetime.
As with previous night’s 3-hour GOP town hall, CNN saved highest-polling candidate for last — Trump — to keep people watching. “You’ve been in fights with a lot of people, but the Pope?!” Anderson Cooper asked Trump kicking things off. Trump blamed — two guesses– the media, for having misrepresented to him what Pope Francis had said about his position on building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico during the Pope’s visit to Mexico. The Pope’s comments were “nicer” than the media made them out to be, said Trump, while also tossing out to the live hall crowd and viewers at home a reminder the Vatican is completely surrounded by a wall, and his belief the Pope doesn’t understand the United States’ border problems (adding he’d meet with Pope Francis at any time to explain and that he respects the position).
(This morning The Vatican returned the favor, walking back the Pope’s earlier comments, insisting his remarks had been “not a personal attack or an indication how to vote” in our presidential election.)
George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2002 “may have been the worst decision any president has made in the history of this country” Trump said. But he refused, despite repeated pressing from a local Evangelical leader in the audience, to repeat an earlier statement that the Bush administration lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to justify the attack. Cooper also noted an interview Trump did with Howard Stern on September 11, 2002, in which, when asked whether he would support an Iraq invasion, Trump responded “Yeah I guess so,” adding, “I wish the first time it was done correctly.”