As the votes were tallied for the Democratic Party’s surprise midterm election performance, some CNN viewers might have asked, “Where’s Wolf?”
Longtime CNN star Wolf Blitzer did not star in the network’s prime-time election coverage for the first time since 2004, when Jake Tapper took the reins alongside Anderson Cooper. Blitzer ran in the afternoon, well before the polls closed, and he was gone at 4:00 p.m. Eastern.
Whether it was the anchor change or the growing tribal nature of cable audiences, with progressives flocking to MSNBC and conservatives clinging to Fox News, Tuesday was not a good night for CNN from a ratings perspective.
The Warner Bros. Discovery-owned news channel finished behind MSNBC for the first time on an election night, according to Nielsen data.
Fox News led the night with 7.4 million viewers from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern. MSNBC, conducted with a moderator opinion group led by Rachel Maddow, averaged 3.2 million viewers.
CNN had an average viewership of 2.6 million, behind networks ABC (3.3 million) and NBC (3.1 million). CBS averaged 2.6 million viewers. CNN viewership was down 50% from the midterms of 2018.
CNN ranked second overall in the 25-54 age group that advertisers use to buy airtime for news programming, with an average of 1.05 million viewers in the demographic. Fox News led with 1.8 million viewers.
But the loss of overall audience is another blow to CNN, which has undergone an upheaval under its new ownership in recent months. As parent company Warner Bros. Discovery attempts to deleverage, CNN braces for cost-cutting and layoffs.
(The decision to make Tapper the lead presenter on election night was made under former CNN boss Jeff Zucker last year, according to a network official.)
Ratings have also been impacted by the trend of consumers canceling their pay TV subscriptions and watching more news on streaming channels.
Overall, television viewership for the midterm elections was down significantly from 2018.
The average total viewership across all networks airing Tuesday’s half-time coverage was 25.4 million viewers, down 30% from 2018.
ABC, CBS and NBC all aired their TV coverage of the night on their free ad-supported news channels. The Fox Corp. provided coverage from her TV stations across the country on her Live Now streaming channel.
CNN also made its coverage available for free in a live stream on its website. Consumers who stream CNN typically require a pay TV subscription.
The TV audience declined despite the great interest in the midterms. Many pundits believed Democrats were in for bruises and losing control of the Senate and House to Republicans. But majorities were still undecided as of Wednesday afternoon, and even a house win for the GOP would be below the margins some pollsters were expecting.
While opinion anchors on Fox News Channel have been strident in their predictions of a Republican “red wave” ahead of the election, the news side of the Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum-led operation stuck to the numbers during its coverage of the night.
Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, the network’s prime-time provocateurs, appeared briefly, but Sean Hannity — who was won over on Monday by pollsters claiming a win for Dr. Predicted Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania (he lost to John Fetterman) – didn’t show up.
Fox News, which has been criticized for tilting further to the right politically in recent years, featured five Democratic commentators during its coverage, including The Five co-host Jessica Tarlov. She was the only voice on the network in recent weeks to suggest that the dire predictions for the Democratic Party’s performance in the midterm elections were overdone.
Fox News contributor Marc Thiessen, a speechwriter for former President George W. Bush, offered a long, unvarnished assessment of how the Republican Party has failed to offer a credible alternative to the Democrats, who have been negative in polls about their dealings with Economy, crime and immigration.
“The Republican Party needs to take a really deep look in the mirror now, because this is an absolute disaster,” Thiessen said.
Fox News’ ballot bureau also had no hesitation in declaring close races for Democratic candidates. Fox News faced a backlash from its pro-Donald Trump viewers in 2020 when it called Arizona for Joe Biden on election night.
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/business/story/2022-11-09/midterm-ratings-msnbc-finishes-ahead-of-cnn-for-the-first-time-while-fox-news-wins-the-night MSNBC’s election coverage finishes ahead of CNN