Although ratings were down from Donald Trump’s first showdown with Hillary Clinton, Tuesday night’s chaotic debate between the president and Democrat White House hopeful Joe Biden drew over 70 million viewers — and the Washington Examiner just announced which network came out on top.
Fox News carried the ratings contest, the Washington Examiner reported, with nearly 18 million viewers tuning in to its broadcast of Tuesday’s face-off.
Fox wins ratings war
The 73.1 million people who watched the debate amounted to less than the 84 million total viewers who watched Trump’s first debate with Hillary Clinton four years ago, the Examiner noted.
Fox News, for its part, captured the largest audience, with 17.8 million viewers, more than double CNN’s 8.3 million, the network reported. ABC had 12.6 million, and NBC had 9.7 million, according to the Examiner.
Fox News also led in the 25-to-54 demographic category, with 5.3 million viewers.
The network’s primetime shows scored high ratings, as well, with Tucker Carlson Tonight drawing 8.3 million viewers in the hour leading up to the debate, and Hannity netting 7.1 million, the Examiner reported. Fox News consistently ranks as the top cable news channel — and this debate was no different.
While the face-off trailed behind 2016’s viewership, it was comparable to 2012, when 67.2 million watched the first debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, the Examiner noted. 2016’s numbers were some of the highest since more than 80 million tuned in to see Ronald Reagan square off with Jimmy Carter in 1980, according to Axios.
Trump touts ratings
Needless to say, it was clear that decorum has decayed over the years as moderator Chris Wallace, a Fox News anchor, failed to keep the candidates from shouting over each other Tuesday night. Wallace, who has a long-running feud with Trump, got into a number of heated exchanges with the president as well, as the New York Post noted.
Many people criticized the debate as a sorry spectacle. That doesn’t mean, however, that they didn’t keep watching. The average spectator watched 49 minutes of the 90-minute event, Axios reported.
Both Trump and Wallace, who the president accused of showing bias toward him, blamed each other for how the night went — but the president was glad to declare victory anyway and tout the evening’s ratings, as Deadline reported.
HIGHEST CABLE TELEVISION RATINGS OF ALL TIME. SECOND HIGHEST OVERALL TELEVISION RATINGS OF ALL TIME. Some day these Fake Media Companies are going to miss me, very badly!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2020
There are two more presidential debates scheduled for Oct. 15 and Oct. 22, and there is also a vice presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris on Oct. 7.