How badly did the Trump town hall affect CNN’s ratings? We already know that giving the former guy an hour long infomercial last week was a stupid idea that brought the network back to its ratings from June 2015, when the primary season was early and before Trump descended the escalator to announce his intentions of running for president – but we didn’t know what the long term damage would look like. It’s actually a whole lot uglier than we thought. We should have had our suspicion after all of the backlash Chris Licht faced for it, which he decided to take out on his employees – rewarding the ones who backed his town hall and punishing the ones who spoke out against it.
It turns out that even before Donald Trump chose to run for president, the network was peaking with ratings, as people saw it a moderate alternative to both Fox News and MSNBC, particularly as Fox News was veering deeper and deeper into fake news territory. Now, CNN’s ratings have cratered, to the degree that they’re even worse than that pro-Trump network Newsmax, and they’ve hemorrhaged 160,000 viewers since they held the town hall. Any right-leaning viewers aren’t coming back, regardless of how much CNN tries to capitulate to their side – and now they’ve lost a whole lot of moderates as well. It turns out there is a market for actual objectivity – and that pivoting to right-wingers has more consequences than rewards.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making