Fox News’s GOP debate last month generated blockbuster ratings — 24 million viewers saw Donald Trump and the other top Republican presidential contenders mix it up, making it the most-watched non-sports cable show ever. Now Fox News rival CNN is poised to cash in on that success.
The news network is asking advertisers to pay 40 times its usual rate, or as much as $200,000 for a 30-second commercial, during the second GOP debate, which it is scheduled to host on Sept. 16, according to Ad Age. CNN is also charging $50,000 to $60,000 for commercials airing that day in the earlier debate between second-tier candidates.
Ad Age says CNN isn’t expected to pull in quite the same level of viewership as Fox News did, but even if the next primetime debate fails to match the earlier numbers, it is still likely to be the most-watched debate CNN has ever aired. The network can thank Trump for that, just as it could thank another outspoken and unpredictable GOP phenomenon for helping to set its previous debate record: In 2008, almost 11 million viewers tuned in to the vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and — you betcha! — Sarah Palin.
If the Palin example holds, news networks aren’t going to be the only ones to benefit from the Trump surge. “Saturday Night Live” saw its viewership and buzz soar in 2008 as Tina Fey’s impersonation of Palin became a sensation in its own right. And when the former Alaska governor appeared on SNL in October 2008, the show drew its highest ratings in 14 years.
The new season of SNL starts Oct. 3, so it’s probably a safe bet that Lorne Michaels — and other executives at NBC, even after the network dumped Trump from The Celebrity Apprentice in the wake of his comments about Mexican immigrants — are rooting for Trump mania to keep going for another month, at least. In the meantime, NBC announced Tuesday that Trump will appear on “The Tonight Show” next week.
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The White House on Friday unveiled plans for a new effort to ramp up testing for Covid-19, which experts say is an essential part of limiting the spread of the virus. This chart from Vox gives a sense of just how far the U.S. has to go to catch up to other countries that are dealing with the pandemic, including South Korea, the leading virus screener with 3,692 tests per million people. The U.S., by comparison, has done about 23 tests per million people as of March 12.
The Air Force has scrapped a planned upgrade of its B-2 stealth bomber fleet — even after spending $2 billion on the effort — because defense contractor Northrup Grumman didn’t have the necessary software expertise to complete the project on time and on budget, Bloomberg’s Anthony Capaccio reports, citing the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer.
Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, told reporters that the nearly $2 billion that had already been spent on the program wasn’t wasted because “we are still going to get upgraded electronic displays.”
Bernie Sanders wants to eliminate $1.6 trillion in student debt, to be paid for by a tax on financial transactions, but doing so won’t be easy, says Josh Mitchell of The Wall Street Journal.
The main problem for Sanders is that most Americans don’t support the plan, with 57% of respondents in a poll last fall saying they oppose the idea of canceling all student debt. And the politics are particularly thorny for Sanders as he prepares for a likely general election run, Mitchell says: “Among the strongest opponents are groups Democrats hope to peel away from President Trump: Rust Belt voters, independents, whites, men and voters in rural areas.”
That’s how much Michael Bloomberg is spending per day in his pursuit of the Democratic presidential nomination, according to new monthly filings with the Federal Election Commission. “In January alone, Bloomberg dropped more than $220 million on his free-spending presidential campaign,” The Hill says. “That breaks down to about $7.1 million a day, $300,000 an hour or $5,000 per minute.”