Although former President Donald Trump frequently sparred with the so-called “fake news” during his term in office, mainstream media outlets clearly benefited from their incessant and overwhelmingly negative coverage of his administration.
Recent reports seem to prove Trump’s claims that those high ratings were attributable to him, with viewership numbers tumbling across all the major cable news channels — particularly CNN — in the nearly two months since he left office.
Ratings drop across the board
Nielsen Media Research conducted an analysis of both primetime and total-day ratings, breaking down the results along demographic lines.
Between Election Day and Inauguration Day, CNN enjoyed an average of 2.5 million viewers during the primetime hours of 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. Eastern Time, according to reports.
Since President Joe Biden was sworn in earlier this year, however, CNN’s average primetime viewership declined by nearly a million viewers.
The overall drop between Jan. 21 and March 15 represented roughly 36%, but the decline was even more pronounced among a key demographic group.
Viewership among those between the ages of 25 and 54 was off by about 47% during the weeks since Biden was inaugurated.
“Coming back to pre-election levels”
The network fared similarly in its total-day ratings. CNN averaged approximately 1.7 million viewers in daytime hours between November’s election and January’s inauguration, but those numbers have subsequently declined to about 1.1 million viewers — a 34% drop.
Again, the news was even worse among the key 25-54 age range most valuable to advertisers, which saw a drop of about 44%, from a pre-inauguration average of 483,000 to a current average of roughly 272,000.
Of course, the damage was not limited to CNN, as Variety explained in its recent analysis of a so-called “Trump slump” among cable news networks. Although CNN, MSBNC, and Fox News experienced substantial declines, CNN fared the worst as its three primetime programs saw drops of between 29% and 33%.
CNN’s Brian Stelter, who hosts a daytime program focused on the media and frequently criticizes both Trump and rival network Fox News, saw his own numbers drop but claimed that ratings were not in “freefall” as many critics contend. Instead, he said viewership numbers were “coming back to pre-election levels, as expected.”
Viewers who believe his explanation likely represent the loyal audience who blindly accept the left-leaning network’s consistent defense of the Biden administration.