President Donald Trump chided the MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Thursday for ratings that he claimed have dropped in the wake of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report to the attorney general, crowing that “fake news never wins.”
Mueller, charged with investigating allegations of collusion between the president’s 2016 campaign and the Russian government, delivered to the Justice Department last week a report that said his team was unable to establish that such collusion occurred. Mueller wrote in his report that he was unable to conclude whether Trump obstructed justice, although Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote in their summary it was their conclusion that the president was innocent of those allegations as well.
“Wow, ratings for ‘Morning Joe,’ which were really bad in the first place, just ‘tanked’ with the release of the Mueller Report,” Trump tweeted about the show — hosted by two of his former friends, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski — where he was once a regular guest. “Likewise, other shows on MSNBC and CNN have gone down by as much as 50%. Just shows, Fake News never wins!”
The former reality TV star frequently harps on ratings, often praising friendly networks like Fox News while pouncing on CNN and MSNBC for their less flattering coverage of him when their ratings dip.
The Associated Press reported Wednesday that MSNBC programs saw their ratings plunge after Barr’s announcement. Ratings for host Rachel Maddow’s show, on which the Russia investigation earned breathless coverage nearly every night, dipped 19 percent from their average for the year the night after Barr made his announcement. The next night, her ratings fell slightly once again.
On Fox, meanwhile, Maddow’s time slot competitor Sean Hannity saw his ratings go up by 32 percent over his average. Hannity, a close friend of Trump and one of his greatest media allies, interviewed the president at length on Wednesday’s show.
Maddow had only recently overtaken Hannity in the ratings fight for the first time, likely buoyed at least in part by her relentless focus on the Mueller investigation. Cable news ratings are prone to news-related dips, as viewers are more likely to tune in when there are developments that align with their political views and less likely to tune in for less favorable developments.
Trump and his aides have pummeled the media for its coverage of the Russia investigation in the wake of Barr’s letter to lawmakers about Mueller’s findings. Earlier Thursday, the president tweeted that media outlets “have ZERO credibility or respect” as a result of their Russia probe coverage and have “never been more corrupt” than in this point in time.
On Monday, his reelection campaign sent out a memo to TV producers urging them to think twice before having certain guests on who had asserted there was a strong likelihood that Trump or his campaign conspired with Russian operatives in the 2016 presidential election.
Barr’s summary of the Mueller report, released Sunday, has prompted a wave of hand-wringing across the media universe, though many in the media have been quick to point out that much of the reporting done on Trump’s ties to Russia over the past two years has been borne out by developments in Mueller’s investigation.