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CNN Leads Ratings for Largest White House Correspondents’ Dinner Audience Since 2016

The 2024 White House Correspondents’ Dinner (WHCD) was held on Saturday, April 27th at the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. This year’s event was hosted by Saturday Night Live comedian/writer Colin Jost, and was shown live on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC.

In front of a crowd of journalists and many celebrities, including President Biden and Vice President Harris, the popular “Weekend Update” anchor delivered a varied mix of wisecracks about the media, Biden’s age, and, of course, Biden’s election opponent Donald Trump.

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“The Republican candidate for president owes half a billion in fines for bank fraud and is currently spending his days farting himself awake during a porn star hush money trial and the race is tied?” asked Jost.

He concluded his set by describing his 95-year-old grandfather, a longtime fireman in Staten Island, N.Y, who voted Democrat in 2020 even though that New York City borough is known to favor Republicans.

“He voted for you, and the reason that he voted for you is because you’re a decent man,” Jost told Biden. “My grandpa voted for decency and decency is why we’re all here tonight.”

Preceding Jost was President Biden who offered some brief words about press coverage of the election and his continued work to free currently imprisoned journalists overseas like Evan Gershkovich and Austin Tice. Biden also managed to mention the zinger, “Of course, the 2024 election is in full swing. And yes, age is an issue. I’m a grown man running against a 6-year-old.”

According to Nielsen Media Research, a combined 3.33 million total viewers watched the dinner with the President and Jost within the 10-11 p.m. hour. This marked an 8-year high for the WHCD, which came as a result of all three major cable news outlets televising it live, for the first time since 2016 with the returning inclusion of Fox News Channel.

Aside from its C-SPAN broadcast (which is not tabulated by Nielsen), the annual event was primarily a CNN affair. MSNBC joined in the coverage in 2023, its first year since 2017.

CNN ranked as the top cable news outlet on this Saturday night (from 8 p.m. to midnight), averaging 1.211 million total viewers including 169,000 within the key 25-54 demographic; up 13 percent and down 7 percent, respectively, from last year.

While the Fox News Channel (992,000) ranked behind CNN and MSNBC (1.131 million) within the 10-11 p.m. hour in total viewers, it was Saturday night’s runner-up cable news outlet (8 p.m.-midnight), thanks to its 8 PM program, “Life, Liberty, and Levin” (1.355 million viewers; 119,000 adults 25-54). FNC averaged 1.153 million viewers and 136,000 adults 25-54. FNC (106,000) also topped MSNBC (100,000) during the WHCD’s main 10 p.m. hour among adults 25-54.

For the night, MSNBC averaged 849,000 viewers (+17% from 4/29/23) and 73,000 adults 25-54 (-14%).

The high recent watermark for the WHCD was set in 2016, for President Barack Obama’s final Dinner (4.9 million).

The following is a year-by-year viewership track for the past ten White House Correspondents Dinners (focusing on the ceremony’s final hour):

2024*: 3.33 million (1.211 million on CNN, 1.131 million on MSNBC, 0.992 million on FNC)

 * It is probable that this year’s combined viewership for the 10-11 p.m. hour is larger than 3.33 million due to Nielsen’s tabulation of CNN’s entire 8 p.m. to midnight period that evening, but not CNN per hour.

2023: 2.39 million (1.54 million on CNN, 0.849 million on MSNBC)

2022: 1.85 million (CNN)

2019: 0.95 million (CNN)

2018: 1.35 million (CNN)

2017: 2.38 million (1.69 million on CNN, 0.69 million on MSNBC)

2016: 4.90 million (3.02 million on CNN, 1.14 million on FNC, 0.74 million on MSNBC)

2015: 2.60 million (1.18 million on CNN, 0.89 million on FNC, 0.53 million on MSNBC)

2014: 1.09 million (CNN)

2013: 3.24 million (1.49 million on CNN 1.49, 1.11 million on FNC, 0.64 million on MSNBC)

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