Since Tucker Carlson’s departure, Fox News has experienced declining viewership, but not enough to knock it down below its major competitors, both CNN and MSNBC.
According to Nielsen live plus same day data for May 2023, Fox News Channel averaged 1.09 million total day viewers, 1.42 million total primetime viewers.
Carlson averaged 3.25 million viewers last March in his old 8pm weekday time slot. Fox continues to slide in rotating hosts, but none have garnered nearly the same number of views.
Still, Fox News continues to sweep the competition, marking its 27th straight month beating both MSNBC and CNN in total day and prime time viewers. Fox’s The Five remained the highest rated show on cable news with 2.6 million average total viewers and 267,000 average demo viewers. Jesse Watters landed second on cable news and cracked the two million viewer mark, while Sean Hannity was the third most watched host on cable.
Over the past weekend, Fox News changed up its lineup. The debut of Fox News Saturday Night topped the ratings chart, blazing past CNN’s “How It Really Happened.” The show will feature a rotating lineup of the channel’s on-air talent offering a “lighter take on the news of the week.”
Overall, Fox attracted over two times as many total viewers than CNN.
CNN’s shows captured just over 400,000 overall viewers per day in May. Those are some abysmal numbers for cable news. The ratings come amidst some hard criticism of the network’s newest CEO, Chris Licht who has faced multiple crises in his first year of leadership.
Talent Executive Stepping Down
It was confirmed yesterday that Fox News vice president of talent development, Amy Sohnen, will be leaving the network. Sohnen joined the network in 1996 eventually rising to become the executive producer of The O’Reilly Factor, which was the number one program in cable news under her watch.
The Dominion Lawsuit
While Fox settled its lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems for defamation to the tune of almost $800 million, the resolution left behind many unanswered questions in its wake. Maybe that was the point.
Many of the details surrounding the allegations against Fox – like text messages of hosts – that would have undoubtedly been revealed during a trial were spared by a last-minute mediation. All of Fox’s most high-profile personalities including Maria Bartiromo, Sean Hannity, and of course, Tucker Carlson, were expected to be called to testify.
Some of those text messages are speculated to have been motive for Carlson’s dismissal but the public may never know the true reasons the network ousted their number one host.
The fact that Fox continued to report the idea that Trump had lost the 2020 election due to fraud, despite personal disbelief among many of the reporters when the cameras were off, denigrated trust in the organization and in cable news in general.
And the media empire isn’t out of the woods yet. Software company Smartmatic USA’s defamation case for $2.7 billion in damages is still active and will likely go to trial in 2025. An attorney for the company said Smartmatic is determined to continue to expose “the misconduct and damage caused by Fox’s disinformation campaign” and to hold “Fox accountable for undermining democracy.”
Trump’s Gripe with Fox
Donald Trump is slated for a taped interview with Bret Baier to air on June 19th during the prime time host’s “Special Report” program, his first with one of the network’s straight news journalists since his 2020 election loss.
Trump also had a town hall with host Sean Hannity last Thursday, which was the top-rated hour on cable news on June 1.
The relationship between Fox News and the former president seems to be in repair. Trump has notoriously attacked the network for unfavorable coverage during the 2020 elections and has accused the cable company of boosting rival Ron DeSantis.
“FOX should embrace MAGA,” Trump wrote on Truth Social earlier last week. He claimed the network is suffering “because the very smart, even brilliant, Magadonians know that, despite all the fake lip service, FoxNews is pushing Ron DeSanctus, or anyone else for that matter, because they hate the greatest ‘America first’ president to ever put on a suit and tie, me.” (Note: The Truth post was in ALL CAPS, but that would be obnoxious here.)
More recently, Trump went after his former press secretary, now Fox host, Kayleigh McEnany on Truth Social.
“Kayleigh ‘Milktoast’ McEnany just gave out the wrong poll numbers on FoxNews,” accusing her of inflating DeSantis’s poll numbers.
“She knew the number was corrected upwards by the group that did the poll. The RINOS & GLOBALISTS can have her. FoxNews should only use REAL Stars!!!”
Trump’s hostility toward Fox traces back to the 2020 presidential election when the network made an early call for Biden in Arizona.
Despite the increasing adversarial relationship between Trump and the press, the fact is, they need each other. Cable news ratings soar with Trump, and Trump gets more popular every time he appears on any cable network, be it Fox or CNN.
Jennifer Galardi is the politics and culture editor for 19FortyFive.com. She has a Master’s in Public Policy from Pepperdine University and produces and hosts the podcast Connection with conversations that address health, culture, politics and policy. In a previous life, she wrote for publications in the health, fitness, and nutrition space. In addition, her pieces have been published in the Epoch Times and Pepperdine Policy Review. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.
This piece has been updated since publication.