Kirsten Gillibrand’s Fox News Town Hall Has Higher Ratings Than CNN Town Halls

By Zachary Stieber

Kirsten Gillibrand’s Fox News town hall beat three town halls aired on CNN on the same night, the latest win for the right-leaning channel against the openly left network.

Sen. Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) appeared at a town hall hosted by Fox that began airing at 7 p.m. EDT June 2.

The town hall, moderated by Chris Wallace, averaged 834,000 viewers, including 92,000 in the key 25-54 age demographic, according to Nielsen Media Research figures obtained by the Washington Examiner.

In contrast, three town halls on CNN on the same night all got ratings less than half of Gillibrand’s.

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) appeared at 6 p.m. EDT, getting an average of 368,000 viewers and 92,000 in the key demo; Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Pa.) appeared at 7 p.m. EDT and got an average of 374,000 and 84,000 in the demo; and Rep Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) appeared at 8 p.m. EDT and received an average of 401,000 viewers, with 85,000 in the demographic.

The ratings win indicates why Democratic presidential contenders are choosing to appear on Fox despite a rancorous relationship with the network, which has historically been openly conservative but has been trending towards the center as of late.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) have stated they will not appear on Fox while South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg did appear on the network, drawing an average of 1.1 million viewers, including 172,000 in the demographic.

Buttigieg’s town hall on CNN drew only 545,000 viewers on average, noted the Examiner.

CNN’s ratings have been sliding recently, along with MSNBC’s, after the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report shattered the theory that President Donald Trump colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election.

The network has been defensive about ratings. After its low town hall ratings began being made public, the network stated: “CNN does not host presidential town halls for ratings. We host them because substantive conversations with presidential candidates inform and empower voters to make the best possible choices for their families and communities.”

The network also highlights when candidates who appear on Fox use some of their town hall time to criticize the network, an option few seize when appearing on CNN due to political alignment.

Gillibrand was the fourth Democratic candidate to have a Fox town hall; the network’s town hall for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) drew more than 2.5 million viewers, the top town hall across any network. Sanders appeared soon after that on CNN, drawing about 1.3 million viewers.

Julian Castro, Housing and Urban Development secretary during the Obama administration, is slated to be the next Democratic candidate to appear on Fox. He will appear on June 13.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has criticized Fox in the past, is now trying to appear in one of its town halls.

“We want to talk to all voters about why the mayor is the best candidate for working people—regardless of what news channel they watch,” a de Blasio spokeswoman, Olivia Lapeyrolerie, told The New York Times.

Gillibrand decided to appear because boycotting the network wouldn’t make a difference, a spokeswoman said.

“Whether or not you participate in these town halls doesn’t stop Fox News from existing,” said Gillibrand’s communications director, Meredith Kelly. “It is a decision about whether the people who watch those shows hear only one side of the debate or hear from the other side.”