Fox News attracts 4.6 million viewers for Trump’s ‘Salute to America’ speech, topping CNN and MSNBC combined

It turns out that patriotic Americans will tune in if the military is being honored on Independence Day.

CBS, ABC, NBC and MSNBC snubbed President Trump's Fourth of July "Salute to America" speech and didn’t air it live, save for their online streaming platforms, while CNN was criticized for its negative coverage of the event. Fox News Channel carried the entire speech with guest anchor Mike Emanuel.

During Trump’s speech from 6:30-7:30 p.m. ET, Fox News’ coverage averaged 4.6 million viewers and 793,000 among the key demo of adults 25-54, beating CNN and MSNBC combined in both categories.

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CNN’s coverage averaged 1.5 million total viewers and 353,000 in the demo, while MSNBC’s counter programming, which included a repeat of the network’s recent Democratic debates, averaged a dismal 374,000 total viewers and only 42,000 in the demo.

NewsBusters Managing Editor Curtis Houck called CNN’s handling a “deranged hatefest” and “one of the most disgraceful displays of liberal media bias, Trump hatred, and slights at America you’ll ever see” on cable news.

"Attacking the President like bitter preschoolers, a cast of CNN personalities bashed the Trump speech as a ‘rudimentary’ ‘eighth-grade history’ report ripping off of ‘Schoolhouse Rock’ and Wikipedia to create a work of ‘jingoism and militaristic virtue,’” Houck wrote.

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Meanwhile, the “Salute to America” speech also helped Fox News attract its largest July 4 primetime audience ever, and “Special Report” had its most-watched telecast of 2019.

President Donald Trump speaks at the Salute to America event on July 4, 2019, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

President Donald Trump speaks at the Salute to America event on July 4, 2019, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Thousands of revelers flocked to the National Mall despite rain to witness the “Salute to America,” Trump’s July 4 extravaganza that honored the United States’ military potency. But not everyone was excited for the event and the president’s critics expected the worst, prompting the Media Research Center to publish a montage of pundits bashing the event before it even began.

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes said Trump “hijacked the previously non-partisan” celebration, while others predicted it would be “dreadful,” "obscene” and even filled with Confederate flags. ABC’s Stephanie Ramos said the president was “turning a traditionally non-partisan event into a Trump-focused campaign-style rally.”

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But Trump largely struck a patriotic and unifying note, paying tribute to the military, U.S. Border Patrol and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and African-Americans who campaigned to abolish slavery in the process. He used the speech to call on Americans to “stay true to our cause” and praised American heroes, including the Armed Forces and civil rights leaders.

“Our nation is stronger today than it ever was before. It is its strongest now,” Trump said. “We celebrate our history, our people, and the heroes who proudly defend our flag: the brave men and women of the United States military.”

The event featured flyovers by every branch of the military, a display of tanks and other military.

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Trump originally wanted a parade with military tanks and other machinery rolling through downtown Washington ever since he was enthralled by a two-hour procession of French military tanks and fighter jets in Paris on Bastille Day in July 2017. Later that year, Trump said he'd have a similar parade in Washington on the Fourth of July 2018, and would "top" the Paris show.

The event ended up being pushed to Veterans Day, which conflicted with one of Trump's trips abroad, before it was scuttled after cost estimates exceeding $90 million were made public.

Fox News’ Lukas Mikelionis, Andrew O’Reilly and the Associated Press contributed to this report.