Fox News Cut Away Early From James Comey Hearing, Lost 29 Percent of Viewers

Rivals CNN and MSNBC saw slight increases during their continued coverage of the House Intelligence Committee hearing

FBI Director, Apple General Counsel Testify Before House Encryption Hearing
Getty Images

Cable news viewers were extremely interested in Monday’s House Intelligence Committee hearing. How do we know? Fox News viewership dropped significantly when the network cut away mid-way through the proceedings, while MSNBC and CNN, who continued their coverage, each saw a slight increase.

From 10 a.m. through 1 p.m. when all three networks aired the hearing, Fox News led the way in total viewership with 2.2 million, compared to 1.7 million for CNN and 1.4 million for MSNBC.  However, Fox ended its coverage of the hearing at 12:55 p.m. ET, after which its viewership dropped 29 percent.

Meanwhile MSNBC and CNN stayed on it until the hearing ended at 3:15 p.m. ET; during the period, MSNBC viewership increasing by eight percent, and CNN grew slightly.

In addition, among the key news demo of adults age 25-54, CNN beat its rivals during the entire hearing by averaging 478,000, compared to 387,000 for FNC and 304,000 for MSNBC. But Fox News dropped 21 percent in the demo when the network cut away, while MSNBC grew 14 percent over the same period.

During the hearing, FBI director James Comey confirmed for the first time that his bureau is “investigating the Russian government’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 election.”

However, Comey and National Security Agency director Mike Rogers said they currently have no evidence or intelligence that Russian cyber actors changed vote tallies in key states, such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, North Carolina or Ohio — when Trump upset Hillary Clinton last November.

Rogers said the intelligence community stands behind its January assessment that they’re highly confident Russia interfered in the election, with the goal of helping Trump win. He said the NSA is working to provide Congress with the material needed to investigate the intelligence agencies’ findings.

Monday’s hearing was one of several congressional panels probing allegations of Russian meddling and the Senate Intelligence Committee will have a similar hearing later this month.