For political geeks, it was Must-See TV.
The viewership numbers are in for the Senate Intelligence Committee testimony of former FBI Director James Comey, and they are rather impressive. They’re especially impressive when you consider it was mid-morning on a weekday.
According to Nielson data, approximately 19.5 million viewers tuned in to hear what the ousted Comey would say.
20 million people watched the Comey hearings. That's the same number that watched Game 3 of the NBA Finals https://t.co/9nbon4fw8Y
— Mike Memoli (@mikememoli) June 9, 2017
The winner of the day, as far as ratings, was ABC, with 3.3 million tuning in from 10am to 1pm.
CBS was a close second.
Fox News led among cable outlets, with 3.1 million viewers, while CNN scored first in the younger 25 to 54-year-old demographic coveted by advertisers, followed by NBC and ABC.
This should come as no surprise. The buildup to Comey’s Thursday morning testimony was the equivalent of a heavyweight title fight.
In the heat of the congressional probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, Comey became a key player, and politicos breathlessly awaited to see if he would deliver a bombshell, right into President Trump’s lap.
The expected bombshell didn’t come, with only a few surprises.
The knowledge that Comey leaked details of his own memos through a friend to the media, in order to prompt a special investigator to take over is probably the biggest news.
A close second may be that Trump asked all of his advisers and aides to leave the room, before asking Comey to let former national security adviser Michael Flynn go.
According to Comey, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and senior aide Jared Kushner hesitated, lingering as if they knew this was a bad idea, but Trump brushed them out. At that point, he asked Comey if he could see his way clear to let Flynn go.
More than anything, it prompts the question as to why Flynn was so important to Trump, that he would go to those lengths, put himself in awkward, potentially illegal positions, in order to try and make it happen.
As happened with the panel of officials on Wednesday, Comey declined to answer many questions in an open setting, preferring to keep the meat of his answers for the closed meetings.
I’m sure viewers were expecting more, and depending on whose team you’re on, some are celebrating this as either a victory for Trump or an ominous sign of more to come.
Smart money says to reserve judgment until all those called to give testimony have spoken, and all the closed door hearings are conducted. We’re a long way from the end.
In the meantime, fingers crossed for no new eruptions from the White House. Our nation can’t move forward under the weight of this much dysfunction.