Biden rewarded CNN with a third primetime town hall with Anderson Cooper returning for the second time as the moderator. The president was welcomed by the audience in the heavily liberal Baltimore where the majority of questions were asked by Democrat participants.
Despite all the built-up hype, CNN still came in third place, averaging only 1.2 million viewers from the 8-9:30 p.m. ET timeframe behind Fox News’ 2.8 million and MSNBC’s 1.4 million averages.
Perhaps the silver lining for CNN is that the town hall offered a night of seven-digit viewership, which has become a rarity for the diminished network.
The town hall was the first CNN program in a staggering 26 days that reached over 1 million viewers. The last time any regularly scheduled CNN program earned such an audience was Sept. 24.
It remains to be seen if CNN’s live special will do enough to stop the bleeding of its viewership.
This also marked CNN’s least-watched town hall featuring Biden. The network’s previous town hall in July moderated by Don Lemon averaged 1.46 million viewers. Cooper’s first town hall with the president in February earned 3.4 million viewers.
Many of the viewers who did tune in to CNN’s Biden town hall had problems with it.
“How Anderson Cooper — who has won awards for his reporting from war zones including Afghanistan — felt no need to ask even one question on Afghanistan is telling,” Fox News contributor Joe Concha said. “The White House clearly got what it wanted from CNN, which isn’t remotely a shell of the once-proud news brand it once was.”
NewsBusters managing editor Curtis Houck also slammed the CNN event for going easy on Biden in a piece headlined, “CNN Treats Biden to Another Clownish Pep Rally Littered With Watered-Down Softballs.”
“Thursday’s 89-minute state-run media operation featured questions that were either sapless, unimaginative, or watered down to ensure they came across as harmless,” Houck wrote.
“Unsurprisingly, CNN and Biden’s handlers made sure Cooper and the audience avoided topics such as Afghanistan, the cover-up by the far-left Loudoun County Public Schools of alleged rapes, critical race theory, the FBI spying on parents who speak at school board meetings, and Hunter Biden’s ongoing art scam,” Houck added. “Going back to the questions they did allow through, two of the neutral questions dealt with the harsh reality of how things like inflation and the supply chain crisis have made the cost of living more stressful and tenuous, but they were ground down so as help absolve Biden of blame.”
Fox News’ Brian Flood contributed to this report.