"It turns out the pandemic is a pretty big part of the news cycle and that's not going away anytime soon," said WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, speaking about CNN's coverage at a media conference. "It turns out it's really good for ratings."
Wall Street Journal's Joe Flint compared Kilar's statement to that of disgraced media executive Les Moonves during the 2016 election. Moonves said at that time that Donald Trump's candidacy "may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS."
"Careful. That's awful close to Moonves line that Trump may be bad for U.S. but he's good for CBS," said Flint in a Tweet.
In a reply Flint's tweet, Kilar was apologetic about his statement. "I agree Joe. I would like nothing more than for this pandemic to be well behind us. I mean that with every fiber in my body. I wish I could go back and be more thoughtful about my communication," Kilar wrote.
Another Twitter user replied to Flint just after Kilar. He said: "Nah, it's worse."
Supporters of President Joe Biden have been caught a few times telling insensitive remarks about the coronavirus pandemic.
Anita Dunn, a senior adviser to Biden, said during the 2020 campaign that "COVID is the best thing to ever happen to [Biden]," according to a new book about last year's election. Actress and Biden campaign surrogate Jane Fonda called the pandemic "God's gift to the Left" before apologizing that it was a "terrible thing to say."
But recent metrics do not support Kilar's claim. CNN actually got "really good" ratings because of its coverage of Trump.
On Feb. 8, one day before the start of Trump's second impeachment trial, CNN led all cable news networks with an average of 332,000 total viewers and 483,000 primetime viewers in the coveted 25-54 age demographic.
On Feb. 15, two days after Trump was acquitted for the second time, CNN averaged just 255,000 total viewers and 316,000 primetime viewers. The network fell behind Fox News in terms of total viewers and trailed both Fox News and MSNBC in primetime viewership. (Related: Trust in “mainstream media” continues to tank, led by CNN’s abysmal numbers: Nobody trusts CNN except the stupid.)
Fox News surged from third to first and was the only cable network to gain viewers in the target demographic during that same period. Fox News and MSNBC finished ahead of CNN in total viewers for the month of February.
For Fox Corporation CEO Lachlan Murdoch, Biden is good for business. From a ratings point of view, "the main beneficiary of the Trump administration was MSNBC," said Murdoch. "And that's because they're in loyal opposition, right? They called out the president when he needed to be called out. That's what our job is now with the Biden administration."
Fox News finished February as the most-watched network in all of cable during the key primetime hours of 8-11 p.m. The network averaged of 2.5 million primetime viewers compared to 2.2 million for MSNBC and only 1.7 million for CNN. HGTV and the Hallmark Channel completed the top five.
The network is also the top-rated network on cable television among primetime total viewers post-Biden inauguration. To date it has been the No. 1 network among weekday primetime viewers since Memorial Day 2020.
Trump's recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) speech was the most-watched cable telecast for the entire month of February. Trump's speech also became Fox News' highest-rated program to ever air at 5 p.m. on a Sunday.
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