Last night, in an epic showing of temper-tantrums not seen since my mom grounded me from video games in 1987 after I failed a math quiz, Donald Trump raised six million dollars for his foundation (which will allegedly support veterans instead of the usual recipients) by abandoning the GOP debate on Fox News in favor of a 2 hour infomercial happily carried on both CNN & MSNBC.
The debate on Fox ended up being a stirring and well-executed battle of ideas and personalities that seemed to leave most viewers feeling they had a truer understanding of the various positions of the candidates.
Trump wore a hat and bragged on himself.
In the end, viewers chose the debates by a factor of 4 to 1. And that's with both CNN & MSNBC viewers combined.
So whose show scored a bigger audience?
Answer: Fox's debate. But it was the second lowest rated debate of the season. So Trump is certain to take credit for hurting the channel's total viewership.
Fox's Trump-less debate had an 8.4 household rating, according to early Nielsen data from so-called metered markets.
This means 8.4% of American metered market homes with TV sets were watching the face-off.
By comparison, two of the cable channels that showed parts of Trump's event, CNN and MSNBC, had about a quarter of Fox's audience combined.
So Trump's rivals clearly came out ahead in the raw ratings.
Moe Lane will do a full round-up once the hard numbers come in, but from the early results, it's clear that Trump didn't do what he and his followers expected. He didn't blow Fox away. But it was the second least-viewed debate this election. The previous Fox Business debate was the lowest of the five.
Oh by the way? Trump was at that debate.