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Fox News Rides Debate to Second Place in Cable

The cable news channel posts its third-best week of the year

The Republican presidential candidates' debate is the gift that keeps on giving for Fox News.

The debate, which aired last Thursday and featured spats between Minnesotans Michelle Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty, propelled the network to its third-best week of the year…in the middle of August. It also elevated FNC to second place in prime time amongst all of cable for the week.

The last time FNC had ratings that good was when the massive earthquake struck Japan earlier this year.

While the debate is not solely responsible, it did rank as one of the 10 most-watched broadcasts in all of cable. Another factor was continued interest in the economy, a subject FNC has pushed hard on, as evidenced by strong ratings for "Your World with Neil Cavuto."

Fox ranks towards the top of cable pretty consistently, but taking the number two spot — behind USA and ahead of TNT — marks a particularly strong week given that August is when viewers are often tuning out of politics. It is also a good sign for the network after its prime ratings dipped in July.

It remains to be seen whether MSNBC and CNN will see similar spikes when they host debates in September.