NEW YORK — CNN and Fox News Channel took unusually harsh swipes at each other Wednesday while analyzing the ratings for their Tuesday coverage of the terrorist assault on New York and Washington.
FNC kicked off the attack when it responded to CNN’s email to reporters putting out Nielsen ratings based on the 51 metered markets for Tuesday.
“CNN has a reputation for distorting numbers, a despicable practice made more disappointing during a national tragedy such as this,” said a Fox News memo emailed by the network’s PR staff.
FNC hates the metered-market comparison because CNN is fully penetrated in all 51 markets, whereas FNC has spotty clearances in such major cities as Philadelphia, putting it at a household disadvantage.
In response to the FNC memo, Brad Turell, head of corporate communications for Turner, said: “Roger Ailes should be thanking us because Fox News used so much of our footage throughout the day. Instead, he follows his usual pattern of going on the offensive and using vile language against us.” Ailes is chairman and CEO of Fox News.
When the full national numbers came in later in the day, CNN ended up with the second-best full-day rating in its history, a 5.5 rating in cable homes from 10:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. (Tuesday-Wednesday). The best: CNN averaged a staggering 9.2 rating on the first day of the Persian Gulf war, Jan. 17, 1991.
Fox News came in second among the all-news networks for the same time period on Tuesday, scoring a solid 2.9 rating in cable homes. And in primetime, second-place Fox News ended up even closer: CNN averaged a 5.9 rating to Fox News’ 3.7.