As the Country Ignored the Impeachment, Brian Stelter Tries to Tout CNN Ratings...of a Dissolving Audience

Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Brian sounds thrilled to be a medium fish in an evaporating pond.

Yesterday, the impotent and misguided second impeachment of Donald Trump concluded with the whimper everyone expected. The Congressional Democrats had rushed into things with a desperate ploy, avoiding common protocols and even going so far as to fabricate evidence they presented. The party was in such disarray that they changed their positions twice on calling witnesses, as the House and Senate Dems could not even communicate cogently.

For these reasons, the American public treated this clown court proceeding with a shrug. Over at CNN, their media watch-Corgi, Brian Stelter attests that few people actually cared to watch the opening days of this sham, and the numbers eroded as the week wore on. 

The Nielsen TV ratings for the first two days of trial coverage show that only a sliver of the public is watching at any given time. The bottom line: News junkies are gripped by the emotional presentations, but a vast swath of the nation is not. This is far, far from one of those “drop what you’re doing and watch” moments in America.

The ratings reveal public apathy. MSNBC was considered the high bar, drawing under 3 million viewers the first day of the trial, with a total audience across the networks estimated around 12 million or so. For a dose of perspective, the Supreme Court confirmation hearing of Brett Kavanaugh saw an audience of roughly 20 million, on a daily basis. One would expect the indictment of a president to take higher priority, but considering the embarrassing actions of the Democrats undermining their efforts, the result is understandable.

And yet, Brian Stelter strained to find something to brag about in these woeful figures. ‘’The ratings for CNN and MSNBC are way up — and the ratings for Fox News are much weaker,’’ reports the media Hall Monitor. ‘’On Wednesday CNN was #1 overall in the 25-54 demo while MSNBC prevailed among total viewers.’’ This…is perplexing. You tell us hardly anyone is watching, but then rave that you won the key demo — a figure below the 600,000 level. That takes you down to Participation Trophy depths.

Then Brian brings us even more contorted logic, via tepid speculation. What if, he theorizes, the impeachment had taken place at night??? Stelter delivers this in his trademarked with-no-threat-of-plagiarism aside, that he dubs his ‘’Thought Bubble’’ — also known as wish-casting.

Thought bubble: I know it never would have happened, but what if the Senate had decided to conduct this trial in the evening, when a prime-time audience might have watched live?

There is a reason he ventures into this dreamscape. CNN fell to third place in the news network ratings in primetime, so he sees a reason to have this kangaroo court taking place in their weakened time slots.

Of course, the CNN media expert ignores that this theory would never fly with the broadcasters. The major broadcast networks are desperate for ratings right now, and face a depleted production slate due to the pandemic. The last thing they would entertain is showing a slog of a trial that the public has little-to-no interest in seeing. 

But let’s give Brian his perceived victory here, award him his 9th Place ribbon, and let him brag in the fashion of the 6-year-old on the diving board begging for his mother to watch. His network made a splash this week, only it was in an above-ground pooland one that has sprung a serious leak.