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Fox News finds itself in an unaccustomed spot _ out of first

Fox News finds itself in an unaccustomed spot _ out of first”

The network's weekday prime-time lineup, long the king of cable news, finished behind MSNBC in viewers last week, the Nielsen company said.

CNN and MSNBC have been competing with their coverage of President Donald Trump's recent controversies, including the investigation into alleged collusion between Trump's campaign and Russian officials.

Fox is still winning for the month of May overall, averaging 2.3 million total viewers and 459,000 in the 25-54 demographic. With both sets of stats, the arrow is more pointed at MSNBC for being a big victor here, rather than for Fox News being a loser, particularly since Fox is still on top both in overall May primetime and in all-day stats.

When Fox News officially announced in an April 19 statement that veteran anchor Bill O'Reilly had been fired, "The O'Reilly Factor" stood alone atop the cable news ratings war - along with the rest of the "fair and balanced" network.

MSNBC also ranked No. 1 in overall audience in primetime, averaging 2.437M viewers.

In terms of individual programs, "The Rachel Maddow Show" at 9 p.m. continued its ratings roll, finishing as the most-watched non-sports program for the week in all of basic cable.

Fox News retracted an article about Rich from its website Tuesday amid complaints from the victim's family, and Mr. Hannity announced hours later that he will no longer discuss the murder "out of respect for the family's wishes - for now".

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But Fox finished behind CNN and MSNBC among viewers ages 25 to 54, the demographic most important to advertisers who buy commercial time on the network. Fox snared 884,000 viewers between 25 and 54, compared with 729,000 for CNN and 444,000 for MSNBC.

The big picture is this: Cable news, as a medium, is careening toward a defining moment that could transform it significantly or return it to the status quo of the past decade.

It was uniquely bad timing for Fox.

Fox's Shepard Smith had the most-watched hour of the evening while pre-empting "The Five" at 9 p.m. ET with live coverage of the terror attack, with 3.31 million total viewers and 926,000 in the key demographic.

Whether it's permanent or temporary, the current ratings malaise certainly raises larger questions for Fox News as it confronts a key transition period and figures out how to cover the Trump administration.

"For first time this century, they aren't in first place", noted MSNBC's Joe Scarborough last week.

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