It was just by a hair, but the debut of the impeachment hearings against Donald Trump yesterday beat Robert Mueller’s testimony before Congress earlier this year …barely.
With a grand total of 13,098,000 Americans tuning in to watch the televised opening of the House Select Committee on Intelligence questioning on Wednesday, Ambassador William Taylor and Deputy Secretary of State George Kent topped the 12.9 million who saw the former FBI Director’s circumspect stint in the hot seat on July 25.
Having said that with Nielsen numbers from Fox News Channel. MSNBC, ABC, CNN, CBS and NBC now in, the 10 AM – 3:30 PM ET hearing stumbled against another big ticket testimony. The Wednesday event, that the former Celebrity Apprentice host insists he didn’t watch, was down a hard 32% from the audience that eyed pink slipped FBI Director James Comey’s appearance before our elected representatives in June 2017.
It should be noted that early Nielsen tally today does not include C-Span and PBS, nor streaming on the likes of Facebook. It also should be noted that those Comey numbers of two years ago included all the Nielsen measured outlets of yesterday plus Telemundo, Univision and Fox Business Network. (UPDATED 2:11 PM – Nielsen added Telemundo, CNNe, PBS and the tape delayed HLN to bump the final viewership up to 13.8 million from 10 AM – 4 PM ET on November 13)
Speaking of entitles owned by Rupert Murdoch, FNC won the viewership wars for yesterday’s very partisan hearing with 2.9 million viewers. The outlet was number two in the key news demo of adults 25-54 with an average of 442,000 to ABC’s 496,000 – though it should be noted that the Disney-owned network started things a little earlier at 9:50 AM.
In total audience, MSNBC had 2.7 million viewers, ABC had 2 million and CBS was close behind with 1.9 million. CNN was in fourth place with 1.85 million and NBC was last among the major news players with 1.7 million – though it should be noted the Comcast-owned network was in the unique position of having its sister cable newser as a direct rival for the same feed.
In the 25-43 news demo, NBC was third with 440,000 watching on average over the more than five hours of coverage. AT&T-owned CNN was fourth with 428,000, followed by CBS’ 384,000 and MSNBC’s 365,000.
On the first day of public testimony, Taylor, the top diplomat in Ukraine, and Kent, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, testified about the Trump administration’s shadow foreign policy toward Ukraine, in which Rudy Giuliani led an effort to get the country’s president, to commit to an investigation of Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
The next hearing is set to start at 9 AM ET/6 AM PT on Friday with is testimony from the former U.S, Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. Like Taylor and Kent, the long time State Department employee previously testified behind closed doors.
Repeating most of that testimony, Wednesday’s hearing did have a revelation that a staffer of Ambassador Taylor’s allegedly overheard a cell phone conversation between Trump and U.S Ambassador the E.U. Gordon Sondland in a Kiev restaurant this summer. After than insecure line exchange, the latter supposedly proclaimed that POTUS was more jazzed up by a probe into the Bidens that any aid to the Russia-facing Ukraine. That staffer could be facing the Committee this week too.
In what needs to become a lot more riveting TV to help achieve the Democrats overall goal of impeaching Trump, eight more witnesses will testify next week. There will be Jennifer Williams and Alexander Vindman on Tuesday morning, Kurt Volker and Tim Morrison on Tuesday afternoon; Gordon Sondland on Wednesday morning and Laura Cooper and David Hale on Wednesday afternoon; and Fiona Hill on Thursday.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.