Where Things Stand: Fox News Won Out On Network Ratings During Hearings This Week

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Fox News logo is seen on a reporter's microphone in Przemysl, Poland on March 5, 2022. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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It’s as if four particularly loud-mouthed Republicans knew the extent to which they were being watched.

Mediaite and The Hill have been tracking ratings data from Nielsen Media Research and Show Buzz Daily this week for Fox News, CNN and MSNBC during the daytime marathon of GOP grievances that became SCOTUS nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings. Fox News had the highest ratings of the three overall, as well as in the coveted 25-54 age bracket of viewers.

On Monday: Fox’s ratings topped out at 1.7 million during the hours of Jackson’s and senator’s opening statement, compared to CNN’s 919,000 and MSNBC’s 795,000 viewers in the same timeframe.

Tuesday was similar: Between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Fox had about 1.4 million viewers total, while CNN had 711,000 and MSNBC was at 858,000 in the same hours-long slot.

Wednesday, same song and dance: Fox had 1.8 million viewers total in the 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET timeframe.

Fox News’ ratings have been beating out the other top two cable networks consistently for the last few years, with CNN and MSNBC occasionally performing a bit better on certain weeks with the 25-54 demographic that advertisers tend to target most closely.

So this week is hardly a surprise, but it speaks to the broader intentions of a few key Republicans’ bombastic behavior and, honestly, vile lines of questioning this week — using their allotted time to question Jackson to do little more than belittle her expertise, accuse her of being a soft-on-crime radical leftist and to repeatedly raise disingenuous and outright false claims about her record on sentencing criminals found guilty of child pornography-related crimes, specifically those charged with possession.

TPM’s Kate Riga has been calling out this pellucid attention-seeking tactic in her live coverage of the hearings all week, reporting this morning on the fact that, of course, all four of the most aggressive offenders were gifted lengthy appearances on Fox News during prime time last night — Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). As Kate suggests, the scheme — while on its face seemed to be another effort to raise their political profile as all four have some form of presidential or higher office ambitions — revealed what the senators know to be true about how the right-wing media ecosystem works. And how the structured venue they were operating in, and the known complacency of Democrats in the face of aggression, would work in their favor.

Kate put it best here:

These kinds of performances, clearly made to enhance these men’s standing on the right, is more than the “jackassery” in service of fame that Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) dismissed on Wednesday. It’s a key part in turning a smear into a full-fledged disinformation campaign. Fox News amplifies the lies, and Democrats often give them attention they don’t deserve — Durbin made a statement during the hearing Wednesday about Republicans’ attempts to get pre-sentencing reports in the child ponography cases, potentially exposing details of violence to underage victims in the service of an attack line that’s a total distortion. 

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