The fourth Republican presidential primary debate hosted by NewsNation on Wednesday suffered the worst ratings of all GOP debates this cycle, with the upstart network drawing only 1.6 million viewers.
The debate also aired on NewsNation's sister network CW, drawing an additional 2.5 million viewers, giving a total audience of 4.1 million, Nielsen reported.
Even with the combined number, the NewsNation debate had the lowest rating of any network hosting a GOP debate this year.
Just last month, the NBC-hosted Republican debate drew 7.5 million viewers. NewsNation also witnessed a huge drop of 68% in audience from Fox News' first GOP debate held in Milwaukee on Aug. 23. Fox drew 12.8 million viewers, according to Nielsen.
The NewsNation debate coverage — starting with pre-debate anchoring by Chris Cuomo, followed by moderator Elizabeth Vargas — did little to interest Republican viewers.
Former President Donald Trump, who has complained the Republican National Committee has reached out to only hostile media to host debates, skipped the NewsNation debate and previous forums. At the same time, his lead as GOP front-runner has increased.
Trump participated in the first Republican debate of the 2016 election cycle, drawing a record 24 million viewers.
NewsNation's Wednesday broadcast saw an 82% drop in audience from that record-setting debate.
The liberal NewsNation channel, formerly WGN America, has been struggling since its inception in 2021.
It drew just 60,000 viewers for a total day in 2023 — down 35% from last year — making it the lowest-rated cable news channel.
The network, owned by TV powerhouse Nexstar, had pinned hopes the GOP debate could spark interest in viewers and grow ratings.
But many pundits said NewsNation's liberal lineup of prime-time hosts with Cuomo, Dan Abrams, and Ashleigh Banfield is doing little to entice Republican and independent viewers to watch.
In addition to Vargas, former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly and Washington Free Beacon Editor-in-Chief Eliana Johnson served as junior co-hosts of the debate.
The RNC, and its chair, Ronna McDaniel, have been taking heat for giving broadcast rights to the debates to networks hostile to Trump, such as Fox, NBC, and now NewsNation.
During the third debate in Miami, Vivek Ramaswamy ridiculed McDaniel's handling of the debate and urged her to resign.
Michael Katz ✉
Michael Katz is a Newsmax reporter with more than 30 years of experience reporting and editing on news, culture, and politics.
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