CNN Ratings Crater After Donald Trump Town Hall Broadcast

Donald Trump at CNN Town Hall address

CNN might have gained a momentary boost in ratings for the Donald Trump town hall on Wednesday, May 10, but the after-effects have not been kind to the news network.

Two days after CNN broadcast the Trump town hall, which won them the night against other cable news networks with 3.3 million viewers, ratings dropped significantly. According to Nielsen live plus same-day figures, Friday’s primetime only drew 335,000 viewers.

For comparison, upstart network Newsmax averaged 357,000, which meant CNN rated fourth for the night. Fox News ranked in first place among cable news networks with 1.4 million viewers, followed by MSNBC with a viewership of 1.1 million.

While Newsmax beat CNN in total viewers throughout Friday night, CNN did rate higher in the key demo for each timeslot. In fact, in the ky P25-54 demo, CNN is up versus the previous four Fridays, while both Fox and MSNBC were down. Meanwhile, Fox News viewership is down on recent years as viewers migrate to Newsmax

The plummeting ratings come after backlash against CNN for airing the Trump town hall, which was moderated by CNN This Morning host Kaitlan Collins. Many critics said Collins did not go hard enough on the former president, allowing him to lie repeatedly and even defame E. Jean Carroll a day after she successfully sued Trump for sexual assault.

In a statement (via The Wrap), CNN stood by its decision to air the town hall, writing, “Tonight, Kaitlan Collins exemplified what it means to be a world-class journalist. She asked tough, fair and revealing questions. And she followed up and fact-checked President Trump in real time to arm voters with crucial information about his positions as he enters the 2024 election as the Republican frontrunner.”

“That is CNN’s role and responsibility: to get answers and hold the powerful to account,” the statement concluded.

CNN’s own Oliver Darcy slammed the broadcast, writing in her Reliable Sources newsletter, “It’s hard to see how America was served by the spectacle of lies that aired on CNN Wednesday evening,”

“A professional lie machine, Trump fired off falsehoods at a rapid clip,” she added, “while using his bluster to overwhelm Collins, stealing command of the stage at some points of the town hall.”

Anderson Cooper defended CNN’s decision to air the event, saying, “You have every right to be outraged today and angry and never watch this network again. But do you think staying in your silo and only listening to people you agree with is going to make that person go away?”

Cooper also received backlash for his comments, with The Late Show writer Ariel Dumas tweeting, “You must listen while a man mocks the woman he sexually assaulted in front of a laughing, cheering crowd OR ELSE YOU LIVE IN AN IDEOLOGICAL SILO!”

“It’s so weird. Now the avoidance of flagrant lies, threats of violence and contempt for law and truth is a crabbed ‘silo?’ I sort of prefer to think of it as ‘democracy’ but sure, I’m limited that way,” added author Dahlia Lithwick.