The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Nearly 17.7 million watched the second prime-time Jan. 6 hearing

Matthew Pottinger, left, and Sarah Matthews appear at the latest select committee hearing. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
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Nearly 17.7 million television viewers tuned in Thursday to the second prime-time hearing in the House select committee’s investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, the Nielsen rating service announced Friday. The number, which encompasses 10 broadcast and cable networks, represents a slight drop from the more than 20 million people who watched the first prime-time hearing in June.

According to ratings data provided by some of the individual networks Friday, MSNBC led the pack with an average of 4.7 million viewers for the high-profile programming block from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Similar to their plans for the June 9 hearing, major broadcast networks ABC, CBS and NBC booted other programming to make space for the congressional proceedings. ABC led the three with roughly 3.9 million viewers, while NBC and CBS each attracted 2.7 million. July tends to be the lowest-rated month in television.

Fox News did not show the hearing and instead aired its usual programming featuring Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity. The network reported 2.66 million viewers during the prime-time block on Thursday. Fox News Media opted to instead air the hearing on the lesser-watched channel Fox Business.

During the hearing, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) led the questioning of former deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger and Sarah Matthews, Trump’s deputy White House press secretary. The witnesses conveyed that President Donald Trump refused to deter the mob from attacking the Capitol in his name, ignoring alleged pleas from senior aides and advisers such as his daughter, Ivanka. Outtakes from Trump’s address to the nation the day after the attack showed that he refused to say “the election’s over.”

CNN reported earlier this week that the cable network’s ratings for the Jan. 6 hearings that took place during the day increased with each subsequent hearing, as did those for MSNBC. CNN averaged 1.5 million viewers for the hearing held June 16, and for the next three attracted 2.1 million, 2.4 million and 2.6 million. According to Nielsen, the June 28 hearing with former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s damning testimony ranked the highest among the daytime hearings, garnering 13.2 million viewers across networks.

Committee members on Thursday said to expect additional hearings in September.