Fox News’ viewership for the first Republican primary debate was nothing to complain about in terms of overall viewers, but when the network’s ratings for the Wednesday night event are compared to the first GOP debate in 2016 — that included then-candidate Donald Trump — it’s a different story.
According to Nielsen, Fox News drew some 12.8 million viewers, but that’s down roughly 50 percent from August 2015, when more than 24 million tuned in, Newsmax reported.
“The ‘Trump effect’ was again witnessed in a January 2016 Republican primary debate hosted by Fox News that Trump also skipped — that debate also drew about 12.5 million people,” the outlet, which has its own cable news network, added.
Trump explained that he opted to boycott the Republican debate this week due to several factors, one of which was his substantial lead over other GOP contenders in the polls. He has also conveyed his dissatisfaction with the Republican National Committee’s decision to grant the first two debates to Fox News, a network that has displayed open hostility towards him.
In a 2021 email, billionaire Rupert Murdoch, the company chairman, reportedly discussed his aim to marginalize Trump and make him a “non-person.” Notably, the network has been openly endorsing Ron DeSantis’ bid for the 2024 primary.
Trump, meanwhile, has been regularly appearing on Newsmax. He praised the network at a July Turning Point USA event featuring founder Charlie Kirk.
“Greg Kelly over at Newsmax— the Newsmax people have been really, really terrific,” Trump said at the time. “Newsmax has been terrific.”
Instead, Trump sat down for an interview with Tucker Carlson, Fox’s former top host, and reportedly drew millions more actual viewers.
Fox’s ratings tanked for a time after the network took him off the air in April. Viewership has since rebounded somewhat but Fox is not the powerhouse it was just a few short months ago.
Newsmax, meanwhile, says it has enlarged its audience by 50 percent since then and is solidly the No. 4 network behind CNN, but just barely.