MSNBC host Rachel Maddow had the most-watched show in cable news in August, ending the month with 2.783 million total viewers for the second month in a row, according to data released by Nielsen.
The Rachel Maddow Show beat Sean Hannity (Fox News), who had 2.679 million total viewers. Fox News’ Tucker Carlson (2.483 million), MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell (2.352 million) and Fox News’ The Five (2.351 million) rounded out the rest of the top five for August 2017.
Fox News still holds an unbroken 14 month streak as the top cable network based on daily viewers. Fox News also averaged 2.2 million viewers in prime time, putting the channel in first place among all cable networks in prime for the month, and 188 straight months at number one in cable news, with respect to both “total day” and prime time.
Still, this is a big deal for Maddow and for MSNBC. While CNN has long been criticized over strenuously attempting to foster the illusion of balanced news coverage — and making gruesome hay of celebrity deaths and various natural disasters — it has been clear for some time that Americans want punditry with their news. There is no indication that Fox News is being abandoned in favor of MSNBC. It’s much more likely that moderates or otherwise politically disengaged viewers are now flocking to Rachel Maddow. If nothing else, this debunks Kellyanne Conway’s assertion that “Russia, Russia, Russia!” is a forced media narrative that Americans find boring, ridiculous, etc. For months, Maddow has stayed on-task with the Russia investigation and clearly it is paying off for her. She bet on the horse that Americans might just find the possibility of a treasonous presidency interesting, and that bet seems to be paying off.
As Trump’s job approval ratings continue to languish in the 35-38% range, Rachel Maddow probably shouldn’t worry that this trend will reverse itself anytime in the immediate future.