An average of about 10.3 million viewers watched just the cable news networks to see two presidential candidates known for their utter lack of comedy chops perform lighthearted roasts of each other at a Catholic charity fundraiser.
The ensuing train wreck at the annual Al Smith dinner brought nearly 4M viewers to CNN, 3.6M to Fox News Channel and another 2.9M to MSNBC. CNN also towered in the news demo with 1.337M viewers aged 25-54, to FNC’s 781K and MSNBC’s 652K.
Trump started strong then, as is his pattern, he took that good will he’d earned in the hall, tossed it into a trash can and set it on fire.
Boos erupted in the crowd of about 1,000 when Trump said, “We’ve learned so much from WikiLeaks. For example, Hillary believes it is vital to deceive the people by having one public policy and a totally different policy in private.”
“That’s OK,” Trump said, as boos were heard, turning to Clinton to say, “I don’t know who they’re angry at, Hillary, you or I? For example, here she is tonight in public, pretending not to hate Catholics.”
“Now, if some of you haven’t noticed, Hillary isn’t laughing as much as the rest of us,” he persevered, as the booing continued. “That’s because she knows the jokes, and all of the jokes were given to her in advance of the dinner by Donna Brazile.”
Hillary elicited some groans, though no actual boos, when she noted there was no teleprompter, Clinton noted Trump had dismantled one of his at a recent rally speech, adding sympathetically that they can be “hard to keep up with and harder when you’re translating from the original Russian.”
She also snarked that Trump’s campaign manager Kellyann Conway being a “contractor he’s probably not even going to pay her.”
Which interestingly, Conway retweeted.
But that’s another story.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan attempted to do damage control when it was over, telling NBC’s Today this morning that, privately, Trump told Clinton “you are one tough and talented woman” at the dinner, adding that Clinton told Trump whatever the outcome of the election “we need to work together.”
“And then there were rainbows and unicorns,” snarked CNN’s John Berman, discussing Dolan’s remarks on NBC.
MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, meanwhile, was heard to note how hard it is hard to actually lose the Al Smith dinner (which this year raised $6M for charity), but that Trump may have accomplished that feat.