Fox News falls in ratings for first time in 17 years after hosts criticize President Trump

Fox News falls behind MSNBC

Published December 26, 2018 4:48PM (EST)

Donald Trump   (AP/David Furst/Getty/Stan honda/Photo montage by Salon)
Donald Trump (AP/David Furst/Getty/Stan honda/Photo montage by Salon)

Fox News finished the week of Dec. 17 in second place in the cable news ratings race — the week the conservative network, which is known for its relentless support of President Donald Trump, spent significant airtime and webspace criticizing the nation's leader.

MSNBC topped Fox News for the first time in that time period since 2001, according to a press release, which cited data from Nielsen. Olympic programming was excluded in the research.

Over the week of Dec. 17, Fox News turned from serving as a refuge for the president into one he came to slam as "Fake News!" Trump last week was criticized on "Fox & Friends," his favorite morning show — though it's possible the president's soft spot for the show has sunk — as well as on and on-air by Judge Andrew Napolitano, a longtime friend of the president and a Fox News personality.

On "Fox & Friends," host Brian Kilmeade ripped into the president over his abrupt announcement that he wants to withdraw all 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria— a decision Kilmeade warned would allow the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, to re-establish its reduced power. Kilmeade, who often defends Trump on television, compared Trump's announcement to Obama's attempts to get troops out of Iraq: "He is doing exactly, if not worse, than what President Obama did."

The president appeared to be tuning in as he expressed his frustration on Twitter not long after Kilmeade's outburst. He said, "I've done more damage to ISIS than all recent presidents....not even close!"

Over on, a headline read: "Trump is about to repeat Obama's mistake in the Middle East."

"When your enemies are cheering," wrote former George W. Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen, "you have made a mistake."

During an appearance on "Shepard Smith Reporting" with Fox News host Shepard Smith, Judge Andrew Napolitano, a longtime friend of Trump and a Fox News contributor, told anchor Smith that the White House occupant could already be under secret indictment for allegedly conspiring with Michael Cohenthe attorney who spent many years working as Trump's personal "fixer," to break campaign finance law during the 2016 presidential campaign in order to hush up women with whom Trump may have had affairs.

"There's ample evidence — this doesn't require too much analysis — to indict the president," Napolitano told Smith. "The question is, do they want to do it? The DOJ has three opinions on this: Two say you can't indict a sitting president, one says you can. But all three address the problem of, what do you do when the statute of limitations is about to expire? All three agree in that circumstance you indict in secret, keep the indictment sealed and release it the day he gets out of office. You can't let a person go scot-free because they happen to be in the White House."

When Smith asked whether Napolitano was saying that the president had already been indicted, the judge responded: "that I don't know about, but he could be, because we don't know what's been sealed."

The news about Fox News declining ratings also come in the same week that host Tucker Carlson faced an advertiser exodus in response to the controversial remarks he recently made about immigration — specifically, that it makes the U.S. "poorer and dirtier." Carlson's comments were widely criticized, and several people threatened to boycott his advertisers. More than a dozen removed their ads from Carlson's show in response. As of this writing, at least 16 companies have pulled advertising from "Tucker Carlson Tonight," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

By Shira Tarlo

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