Presidential hopeful Kamala Harris gets big ratings for her CNN town hall

A version of this article first appeared in the "Reliable Sources" newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

Posted Updated

Brian Stelter
, CNN Business
CNN — A version of this article first appeared in the "Reliable Sources" newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

Kamala Harris is a ratings draw

I first noticed this while looking at weekend cable news #'s. CNN and MSNBC picked up audience when Kamala Harris officially entered the 2020 race with a Sunday afternoon speech in Oakland.

And her ratings power was more vividly on display on Monday night. CNN's town hall with Harris "drew nearly 2 million viewers — 75% above CNN's four-week average in the 10 o'clock hour," THR's Rick Porter wrote. "The news channel says the audience of 1.95 million was the largest for a single-candidate town hall in CNN history..."


What's the best Starbucks-related pun you've seen in the skeptical coverage of Howard Schultz's 2020 flirtation? I liked "A LATTE OF PUSHBACK" on Ari Melber's MSNBC show Tuesday evening.

The criticism of Schultz continued on Tuesday, including when he was at the table on "The View."

Afterward, he taped an interview with CNN's Poppy Harlow, and it will be airing Wednesday morning on CNN... The full interview will also be up on Harlow's "Boss Files" podcast first thing Wednesday morning.

→ BTW: Some Fox hosts came to Schultz's defense on Tuesday... while they savaged Harris for her "Medicare-for-all" position... Here's the latest on the health care debate that came out of Monday's town hall...

The myth of centrism?

Quoting Waleed Shahid, the comms director for Justice Democrats, during a segment about Schultz on "All In with Chris Hayes:"

"Centrism typically refers to itself as the rational middle. Really it's a fringe movement trying to defend the economic preferences of the 1%. But right now what we're seeing is that these corporate-friendly centrist politicians are incredibly out-of-touch with the Democratic electorate and frankly with the Republican electorate... These ideas aren't popular in America right now."

Hannity interviewed Eric Trump, but...

Check this out. WaPo led its website with this scoop on Tuesday night: "President Trump's company plans to institute E-Verify, a federal program that allows employers to check whether new hires are legally eligible to work in the United States, in every one of its golf clubs, hotels and resorts, following a Washington Post report that its club in Westchester County, N.Y., employed undocumented immigrants for years."

The Post quoted a statement from Eric Trump. As luck would have it, Sean Hannity had Eric on set with him just 25 minutes after the story broke. So Hannity interrogated him about it, right? Wrong... It didn't come up at all...

Maybe Roger Stone will guest host next

On Friday night, Roger Stone was a guest on "Tucker Carlson Tonight" at 8 p.m. on Fox. Monday night, he was a guest on "Hannity" at 9 p.m. And Tuesday night, he was a guest on "The Ingraham Angle" at 10 p.m. See the pattern? I presume he'll be on "Fox News @ Night" at 11 p.m. on Wednesday...

→ Stone pleaded not guilty on Tuesday morning...

→ WaPo just came out with this very newsworthy sentence: "Asked Tuesday whether he would consider pardoning Stone, President Trump told The Washington Post, 'I have not given it any thought.'"


-- January's cable news ratings: Fox News marked 17 straight years at #1 among cable newsers... MSNBC touted Rachel Maddow's victory over Hannity... and CNN posted double-digit growth over the same month last year... (TVNewser)

-- "MSNBC's Chris Hayes will be getting out from behind the anchor desk and in front of an audience next month for a live taping of his 'Why Is This Happening?' podcast, and he's booked one of the Democratic Party's breakout stars as his guest: Stacey Abrams..." (Vulture)

-- Speaking of Stacey Abrams, she will be delivering the Democratic response to Trump's SOTU next Tuesday... (CNN)

Intel chiefs contradict POTUS

"U.S. INTELLIGENCE DISPUTES TRUMP ON GLOBAL PERIL" is the lead headline in Wednesday's NYT. The subhed: "NO REASONING FOR WALL."

This has been a top story all day long, and it's deeply unsettling. In public testimony on Tuesday, Trump's intel chiefs contradicted him while discussing ISIS, Russia, Iran, and North Korea. As CNN's Jim Sciutto said on "The Situation Room," "it's hard to imagine a bigger void between a sitting President and the U.S. intelligence community. Keep in mind, these are all Trump appointees..."

→ NBC's Ken Dilanian tweeted "one big picture takeaway from this intelligence hearing: There are huge new challenges to the U.S. The president isn't talking about any of them. He's focused on the southern border, which doesn't come up in the threats assessment as a significant security issue..."

New deputy EIC of the WSJ

Neal Lipschutz, a 37-year veteran of Dow Jones and a beloved figure in the newsroom, is becoming WSJ EIC Matt Murray's top deputy. "Neal will work closely with me and the entire senior team on the daily news report, and will oversee the newsroom in my absence," Murray wrote in an internal memo on Tuesday.

Lipschutz is currently the WSJ's head of Ethics and Standards... And the paper is now considering candidates to fill that spot...


-- From Capitol Hill to CBS: Jeff Flake debuted as a contributor on "CBS This Morning" on Tuesday. The network says "his first project, 'Common Ground,' will be a series of reports where people have found common ground to solve critical issues..." (CBS)

-- From Tallahassee to CNN: Andrew Gillum premiered as a political commentator on "Cuomo Prime Time" Tuesday evening... (Twitter)

-- Jenn Suozzo, who went from senior broadcast producer to exec producer of "NBC Nightly News" last fall, has filled her old position as the show's #2:Meghan Rafferty... (TVNewser)

-- Interesting piece about a Tea Party-aligned advocacy group with a reporting arm: "In the Texas House, they're seen as lobbyists. In the Senate, they sit at the press table..." (Texas Tribune)

-- Read more of Tuesday's "Reliable Sources" newsletter... And subscribe here to receive future editions in your inbox...

-- "Why won't The New Yorker keep you logged in?" Laura Hazard Owen tried to solve the mystery... There are lessons here for other sites too... (NiemanLab)

Axios is this close to profitability

Axios will celebrate its second birthday on Thursday. While other digital media businesses flounder, Axios "seems to have set itself on a sustainable course through its newsletter-driven, heavily bullet-pointed 'smart brevity' formula," VF's Joe Pompeo wrote Tuesday.

Key graf: "In its second full year, the company pulled in revenue of roughly $25 million" (up from $12.5 million in year one) "from its influencer-targeted short-form native-advertising campaigns, largely in the corporate-responsibility realm. Axios missed breaking even by a mere $56,000 and has lots of cash left in the bank, with plans for a high-end subscription business in 2019."

-- Co-founder Roy Schwartz told Pompeo that there are no plans to raise more $$...

-- Co-founder Jim VandeHei said "in our second round, we raised just under $20 million, and we haven't touched that yet..."

-- When Pompeo said "I've read that advertisers pay $75,000 per week to sponsor Mike Allen's Axios A.M. newsletter," Schwartz said "it's double that..."

VandeHei: "I think people are consuming way too much political content"

This part of the Q&A stood out to me. When Pompeo asked about the fate of the news biz in a post-Trump-bump world, VandeHei said, "I don't think it affects us. Do I think there's a falloff? I hope there's a falloff. I think people are consuming way too much political content. It's like Doritos. If I eat Doritos every single day, I'm gonna be a fat, useless slob. People have made political coverage way too big a part of their consumption diet. We're trying to grab people by the collar every day and saying, this is what's happening with A.I., global warming, China, science. Artificial intelligence is gonna have a bigger determination of the future of America than our politics right now. What China's doing in terms of investing in every other nation? We need to get people paying attention to those topics."

Apple earnings headlines

Some of Apple's businesses are growing. But "the iPhone business is in decline -- and there appears to be no end in sight," as Seth Fiegerman's story explained here.

A bright spot for the company: "Services." Per David Goldman, "revenue from the app store, Apple Music, Apple Care and other subscriptions rose 19% to a record $10.9 billion. That's far less than the $52 billion Apple brought in from iPhone sales. But unlike the iPhone, it's growing -- strong."

-- A big picture takeaway via BI: "The company now has 1.4 billion total active users of its devices, up 100 million last year..."

-- Via Mashable's Karissa Bell, Apple also shared updated usage data for Apple News: The app now has 85 million monthly active users, "up from 70 million in 2016, the last time they shared data..."

-- Tim Cook alluded to the company's forthcoming TV shows and expected subscription service or services, but only said "we'll have something to say more on that later..."

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