Are CNN’s ratings really down 41%?

By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links

The war of words between Anderson Cooper, Dr. Trump Jr. and conservative media outlets over CNN’s ratings has dissolved into a fight over fake news and lying.

  • The battle started when Donald Trump Jr. posted a photo of Cooper in waist-high water and called him out by saying “Stop Lying to try to make @realDonaldTrump look bad,” though he did not indicate, what exactly, Cooper was “lying” about.
  • The same photo made the rounds on social media, with memes claiming Cooper was “kneeling” in the water to exaggerate the depth of the water.
  • In fact, Cooper was actually filming a report demonstrating the dangers of hidden high waters. His crew was on higher ground.
  • The photo was also taken from 2008 coverage of Hurricane Ike, not Florence.
  • Many took the tweet to imply that Trump Jr. was suggesting that the photo illustrated Cooper reporting on Hurricane Florence and that Cooper has been critical of his father’s handling of hurricanes.

  • While the tweet did not directly claim the photo was of Cooper during Florence, Cooper addressed the issue on Tuesday, Sept. 19, calling out Trump Jr. for his tweet.

  • Trump Jr. and conservative media then turned around and accused Cooper of “lying” since the tweet did not directly include any references to Florence or Hurricane Maria.

However, what Trump Jr.’s original tweet did contain was a direct reference and link to a story about CNN’s ratings.

  • The Breitbart article cited by Trump Jr. gleefully reports that “CNN ranked No. 6 across basic cable in total prime time viewers, and No. 5 in total day this past week. Despite the top 10 finishes, the network was -36 percent in prime time viewers, and -41 percent in total day viewers vs. the same week last year.”
  • Breitbart even linked directly to the AdWeek article on its TVNewser brand where it got the data from, but conveniently ignored some other facts the article contained.
  • While the article, which uses ratings data provided to the media, does indeed show that CNN was down 41 percent year over year, that’s not the whole story.
  • “During the same same week in 2017, cable news provided wall-to-wall coverage of Hurricane Irma,” notes TVNewser.
  • “Significant breaking news stories tend to give CNN a bigger ratings boost than what Fox News or MSNBC traditionally get,” the report continued.
  • Breitbart also conveniently skipped over TVNewser’s report that Fox News lost its 14-week streak as number one in cable due to U.S. Open coverage on ESPN.
  • Fox News was also hit with a ratings loss year over year — about 3 percent in total prime time viewers and 15 percent over the same week in 2017.