The first public meeting of the J6 committee was held in prime-time last Thursday and was carried live on all the networks – except for one. Fox News, which owns the cable news ratings, decided not to risk its success on what it predicted was going to be a ratings bust.
Who was right? In a column posted on the CNN Business website, CNN media pundit Brian Stelter claimed victory for the hearings, saying some 20 million people tuned in:
"Between 8 and 10 p.m. Eastern, roughly 5 million people watched the hearing on ABC; 3.6 million on NBC; and 3.4 million on CBS. On cable, more than 4.3 million watched on MSNBC and more than 2.7 million watched on CNN, between three and four times the typical prime-time audience for the channels."
Nicholas Fondacaro, deputy managing editor at Media Research Center, contends Stelter played a bit with the numbers.
"In order for Brian Stelter to sort of claim that a lot of people are watching the hearings, he needed to bundle both the cable and the network ratings numbers together to get over 20 million," says Fondacaro. "[That way he could say] Look, 20 million people were watching."
Fondacaro's not alone in his assessment. BizPacReview.com puts the 20-million number in context, saying it is "being touted as a smashing success by media outlets that are in the bag for the Democratic Party, but when given some context isn't nearly as impressive as it seems." And The Federalist says when compared to what cable and networks typically pull for an average evening, Thursday's viewership is revealed "as little to brag about, especially when all but one [Fox News] aired the livestream."
As for Stelter's own network? "They are well behind in third place," notes the MRC editor. "They were hundreds of thousands of viewers behind Fox News in the early parts of the hearing on Thursday."
Regardless, even 20 million is only 6% of the country – pretty low, according to Fondacaro, for viewership of an investigation the Left said was supposed to prove "democracy is in danger."
"So far, it seems like Fox is coming out ahead and people are just sort of tuning out to all the January 6 stuff," he offers. "They are going to probably just tune this out and try to focus on making more money to pay for their gas, pay for their energy, pay for groceries."
And that, he argues, will reflect the biggest concern for Americans these days: "Their daily quality of life."
The second day of the J6 Committee hearings is ongoing today (Tuesday); according to an advisory postponing Wednesday's hearing, the committee's next hearing is tentatively scheduled for Thursday afternoon.