Tuesday was a wild news day, even by 2018 standards. President Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to multiple counts related to bank fraud, tax evasion and campaign finance violations. Cohen said he had made illegal campaign and corporate contributions “at the direction of” a 2016 presidential candidate—i.e. Trump—and with the “purpose of influencing the election.”
Minutes later, a Virginia jury convicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of eight counts related to tax fraud, bank fraud and failure to report foreign bank accounts. The judge declared a mistrial on the other 10 counts.
Not surprisingly, Tuesday proved to be a ratings bonanza for cable news. In fact, for The Rachel Maddow Show, Tuesday, Aug. 21 2018 was the 2nd-most-watched broadcast in the show’s history.
Last night’s broadcast attracted 3.9 million total viewers, which also happened to be No. 1 across all of cable TV. The only TRMS broadcast that has delivered a larger audience is the March 14, 2017 “tax return” episode, which attracted 4.13 million total viewers and a whopping 1.43 million A25-54 demo viewers.
Multiple MSNBC programs set ratings records last night, and lifted MSNBC to a No. 1 finish in prime time viewing, in both total viewers and A25-54. MTP Daily, The Beat with Ari Melber, Hardball with Chris Matthews, All In with Chris Hayes, and 11th Hour with Brian Williams all had their most-watched broadcasts in series history.
The aforementioned TRMS, The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell (which was also the No. 2 program on cable TV last night), and Deadline: White House all had their second-most-watched nights ever. This excludes conventions, debates and election night broadcasts.
Fox News ranked No. 1 in total day yesterday, both in total viewers and among the key A25-54 demo. FNC also ranked No. 2 in total prime time viewers.
Fox News had 6 of the 10 most-watched cable TV broadcasts yesterday, including Hannity, Tucker Carlson Tonight, The Five, Special Report with Bret Baier, The Ingraham Angle, and The Story with Martha MacCallum.
CNN had a solid day in its own right. It finished No. 2 in prime time yesterday among adults 25-54, ahead of rival Fox News, and defeated MSNBC in multiple hours prior to prime time (in the demo). Jake Tapper was No. 1 in the 4 p.m. hour among adults 25-54 (389,000). Wolf Blitzer tied Bret Baier in the 6 p.m. hour for No. 1 among adults 25-54 (499,000). CNN Tonight was No. 1 among adults 25-54 in the 11 p.m. hour.