Fox News finds itself in unaccustomed spot _ out of first

The NBCUniversal-owned outlet was the most-watched cable-news network in weekday primetime in both the advertiser demo and overall viewers for the week of May 15th, marking the first time the network has triumphed over both Fox News and CNN in the same week in its history.

The week of May 15 kicked off with the bombshell that President Donald Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian diplomats, followed the next day with a report that he urged then-FBI Director James Comey to drop an investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

In total viewers, MSNBC's 2.44 million edged Fox News' 2.41 million.

MSNBC's numbers were bolstered by a strong showing of "The Rachel Maddow Show", which finished as the most-watched non-sports programs for the week among all basic cable channels.

After the network hired former Fox News host Greta Van Susteren, a split with O'Donnell would further indicate that MSNBC simply does not want to embrace the role of anti-Trump agitator.

But it also comes shortly after the firing of star anchor Bill O'Reilly, as Fox is trying to establish a new prime-time lineup. If and when the news cycle calms down, we may get a clearer answer on that, but for one week at least, it's Fox and not MSNBC that has to wonder whether it needs more changes in its prime time. The natural implications of those stories might have driven prime-time commentary viewers to the network that has defined itself as the center of the Trump opposition, or to CNN and its perceived middle-road approach, rather than the network which has defined itself as Trump's apologists.

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In the key 25-54 demo, CNN finished second behind MSNBC with 588,000 viewers, while Fox came in third with 497,000.

But they could if the ratings of the past two weeks continue.

That which was last is now first.

Overall, The Rachel Maddow Show at 9 p.m. has emerged as a ratings juggernaut for MSNBC this year, and especially this month.

To be fair, Fox isn't losing viewers - for now it's just bragging rights to No. 1 that are in play. The attack outside of an Ariana Grande concert, where 22 people were killed, dominated cable news coverage across all three major channels. Tucker Carlson Tonight is having trouble at 8 p.m., and The Five's move to 9 p.m. has been, by Fox News standards, a ratings disappointment.

It was uniquely bad timing for Fox.

  • Ronnie Bowen