President Donald Trump loves to brag about ratings, but he’s not getting them anymore.
As he’s ramped up his rally schedule ahead of the midterms, viewership numbers for the raucous prime-time events have been roughly similar to — sometimes dipping below — Fox News’ regular programming, and the network has recently stopped airing most evening events in full.
During three Trump rallies last week, Fox News showed clips and highlights from his speeches but stuck largely with its normal weekday prime-time programming. On Saturday, when “Fox Report Weekend” and “Justice with Judge Jeanine” would ordinarily air, the network showed Trump’s speech from Topeka, Kan., in full. But on Tuesday, a rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa, was particularly hard to find — it was not aired live on any major network, and even C-SPAN cut away for other news. And on Wednesday night, as Trump took the stage in Erie, Pa., at 7 p.m., Fox News stuck with its coverage of Hurricane Michael.
Since Trump took office, CNN and MSNBC have mostly declined to air his campaign rallies, though, like Fox News, they’ll typically carry any presidential speeches or comments to reporters.
Fox still provides livestreams of the campaign events online, but during a crucial period, with the midterms less than a month away, some in the White House are worried that the president is losing a prime-time megaphone to his base.
One senior White House official was unsure why the network would decide to cut away from presidential rallies, saying officials planned “to look into that” and wouldn’t be surprised if White House communications director Bill Shine, a former Fox News executive, was in touch with former colleagues about the trend.
The loss of national coverage is equally, if not more, concerning to the candidates on whose behalf Trump is traveling the country.
“It exposes us to a national audience that we normally don’t get to,” a Senate Republican campaign staffer said of the coverage of Trump rallies. “We tend to see lots of new sign-ups and small-dollar donations. There’s obviously folks streaming [rallies] online, but being able to be onstage with the president in front of a prime-time audience is huge for a campaign trying to reach conservatives across the country who will open up their wallets.”
A source close to Trump described the declining coverage as a “huge loss on the state and local level for Republicans because they’re certainly not going to get any of that on other cable networks.”
“If they stop taking them completely, that might create a problem,” this person said. “Trump is a massive consumer of the media, so he may be disappointed.”
Neither Fox News nor the White House responded to requests for comment.
But from Fox’s perspective, Trump is no longer a sure bet to beat Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity or Laura Ingraham. For instance, on Aug. 30, Fox News’ 8 p.m. hour was mostly consumed by Trump’s rally in Evansville, Ind., earning 2.536 million viewers, according to Nielsen, compared to the 2.8 million viewers Carlson averaged at that time during 2018’s third quarter.
Right. It’s all about the green. No ratings, no advertising revenue.
And let’s face it. Even if you are a member of Trump’s base, his shtick is getting OLD. It’s the same broken record over and over again. How many times can you chant “Build A Wall!” and isn’t it embarrassing that he’s halfway through his four years and there’s no inkling of a wall except some prototypes?