Buttigieg’s sit-down with Chris Wallace clocked bigger numbers in both metrics than combined time-slot stats for MSNBC’s Kasie DC (621,000 77K) and CNN’s Newsroom (447K, 96K).
Buttigieg’s FNC encounter also outstripped his earlier town hall on CNN, which logged 545K total viewers including 169K in the demo, on a Sunday back in March.
Buttigieg’s no Bernie Sanders. Sanders’ April FNC town hall with Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum remains the most watched town hall of this election season to date. In fairness, Sanders scored his nearly 2.6 million viewers from 6:30-7:30 PM on a Monday night, instead of a more challenging Sunday. Sanders’ haul included 489,000 in the 25-54 news demographic.
But Butttigieg might have outrun Sanders in the headline department.
Asked how he would handle President Donald Trump’s debate insults and tweets, Buttigieg paused, then told Wallace, “I don’t care.”
And when Wallace argued that Trump’s tweets are extremely effective at reaching the country, Buttigieg countered, “It is an effective way to command the attention of media. We need to make sure we are changing the channel from this show that he’s created. I get it. Look, it is mesmerizing. It is the nature of grotesque things. You can’t look away.”
To that point, a few hours before FNC’s Buttigieg town hall, Trump had tweeted his displeasure.
FNC’s Brit Hume was having none of that. He tweet-slapped Trump, writing, “Say this for Buttigieg. He’s willing to be questioned by Chris Wallace, something you’ve barely done since you’ve been president. Oh, and covering candidates of both parties is part of the job of a news channel.”
But Buttigieg kind of got Trump’s point, when he talked to Wallace about agreeing to a town hall on FNC, while other Dems have declined.
“I get where that’s coming from, especially when you see what goes on with some opinion hosts on this network,” Buttigieg said during the event. “I mean, when you’ve got Tucker Carlson saying that immigrants make America dirty, When you’ve got Laura Ingraham comparing detention centers with children in cages to summer camps — summer camps — there is a reason why anybody has to swallow hard and think twice before participating in this media ecosystem.”
Explaining his decision, Buttigieg said Dems “have to find people where they are,” and “connect with Americans from coast-to-coast.”