CNN’s Kamala Harris town hall broadcast, supposedly the most-watched single-candidate town hall program in cable news “ever,” actually came in a distant second to a 2016 program by then-candidate Donald Trump on Fox News.
The cable news network boasted of its “record-breaking” achievement – an average of 1.957 million viewers, according to Nielsen data – in a press release that called "Town Hall with Senator Kamala Harris" “the most watched cable news single candidate election town hall ever.” In their hurry to assure viewers that Harris was the front-runner for the Democrats’ presidential nomination in 2020, however, CNN failed to fact-check their numbers.
A Trump town hall hosted by Sean Hannity easily out-performed the Harris special in August 2016, drawing 2.7 million viewers – a ratings bonanza that boosted Hannity’s overall numbers 32 percent.
In fact, Fox News outperformed CNN’s town hall on Monday night as well, grabbing 2.256 million viewers for its 10 pm offering, "The Ingraham Angle." To be fair, Ingraham’s show was not a town hall – and MSNBC's Rosie O'Donnell actually beat both of them – but CNN just couldn’t resist proclaiming their program “easily top[ped] all cable news competition.” (It didn’t.)
While several media outlets have revised their coverage of CNN’s “record-breaking” ratings achievement to reflect that Monday’s ratings were a record for CNN, not cable news as a whole, CNN hasn’t got around to updating its own press release and would not return a request for comment by the Washington Examiner.
The CNN town hall program, hosted by Jake Tapper, was Harris’s debut on the cable news stage, which she used as an opportunity to share her plan for eliminating private health insurance in favor of single payer – a plan that lasted less than 24 hours.
It’s safe to say the town hall left viewers with a few more questions than answers…
Harris, who was a district attorney of San Francisco and attorney general of California before getting elected to the US Senate in 2016, launched her 2020 campaign on Sunday with a rally in Oakland. While she is entering what promises to be a crowded primary, she hasn’t come unarmed, surrounding herself with at least seven Democratic campaign operatives last seen working to push Hillary Clinton over the finish line.
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