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Comey testimony watched by nearly 20 million TV viewers, millions more online

Nearly 20 million television viewers tuned in Thursday to watch former FBI Director James Comey testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee about his relationship with President Trump, the Nielsen ratings service said Friday.

About 19.5 million viewers watched Mr. Comey’s highly-anticipated testimony Thursday across 10 different measured television networks, according to Nielsen’s data, not including online audiences and individuals who watched the hearing on ad-free outlets like PBS and C-SPAN.

Fox News placed first Thursday in terms of cable-news audiences, Nielsen reported. About 3.104 million viewers watched Fox News’ coverage of Thursday’s hearing to CNN’s 3.059 million and MSNBC’s 2.737 million, according to its data.

ABC boasted the biggest audience of all, however, attracting upwards of 3.295 million viewers during Thursday hearing, Nielsen reported. Another 3.286 million watched the event on CBS while NBC attracted about 2.723 million viewers, according to the ratings firm.

The hearing was primarily watched by viewers ages 55 and up, per Nielsen’s reporting. About 13.3 million viewers in that age range tuned in to Thursday’s broadcast, compared to 1.3 million viewers ages 18-34 and 4.3 million viewers ages 35-54.

Despite attracting a television audience near 20 million, the number of viewers who watched Thursday’s hearing was likely much higher once other mediums are considered. CNN said it’s livestream was initiated about 3.9 million times by online viewers, Twitter said it’s digital broadcast brought in 2.7 million viewers and Facebook boasted of attracting 26 million viewers to its own live video coverage, Politico reported Friday.

Several outlets had touted Mr. Comey’s appearance Thursday for days in advance, earning the event billing as a political Super Bowl of sorts. The hearing ultimately attracted a significantly smaller television audience than this year’s Super Bowl, however, as well as another recent, widely-anticipated political event: President Trump’s inauguration in January bested Thursday hearing by attracting about 31 million television viewers, Nielsen said previously. About 38 million, meanwhile, tuned in to watch former President Obama’s inauguration in 2009.

Mr. Comey answered questions for over 2 1/2 hours Thursday largely concerning his relationship with Mr. Trump and the events preceding his abrupt termination as FBI director on May 9.

While the White House initially said Mr. Comey was fired over his handling of the FBI’s investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her use of a private email server while in office, the president has since admitted terminating Mr. Comey over a separate probe involving Mr. Trump’s transition team and its purported ties to Russia.

“It’s my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation,” Mr. Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday.

“Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication,” Mr. Trump tweeted afterwards with respect to Mr. Comey’s testimony.

More than 20 million television sets similarly tuned to a Senate hearing in 1991 to watch Anita Hill discuss sexual harassment claims concerning Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, CBS reported. Roughly double that number watched in 1987 when former Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North testified during the Iran-Contra hearings, Bloomberg reported Friday.

Source: www.washingtontimes.com stories: Politics

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