Fact check: Jim Acosta’s CNN special didn’t reach ‘millions and millions’ of people despite on-air claim

The ratings-challenged network has experimented with different options at 9 p.m. since it was forced to terminate Chris Cuomo last year. This week, Acosta is occupying the time slot with a special, “Democracy in Peril,” and the former White House reporter invited Democratic lawyer Marc Elias onto the program to discuss reforming the electoral count and other voting right legislation. Elias, an avid CNN watcher, flattered the network with misleading numbers during the segment.

CNN’s Jim Acosta didn’t correct a false claim by Democratic lawyer Marc Elias.

CNN’s Jim Acosta didn’t correct a false claim by Democratic lawyer Marc Elias. (CNN screenshot )

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“I’m an optimist about this because I think that if everyone stands up in their town square, you know, you have a great town square,” Elias told Acosta. “You’re broadcasting to millions and millions of people.” 

However CNN, which recently dispatched its chief media critic to New York City schools to warn against the dangers of misinformation, has struggled to attract a primetime audience during the Biden era. 

Acosta’s special on Monday managed only 511,000 viewers, a far cry from the “millions and millions” that Elias claimed were tuning in. The previous week, when Brianna Keilar filled in at 9 p.m. and hosted a special also titled, “Democracy in Peril,” CNN averaged only 555,000 average viewers. The network went extended periods of 2021 failing to reach even one million average viewers and settled for an average audience of only 783,000 last year. 

Acosta, who declared Monday he still had “marks on my back” from his time covering former-President trump, was unable to correct Elias’ misinformation, as he didn’t know the size of his audience in real time.

Jim Acosta’s CNN special on Monday managed only 511,000 viewers. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Jim Acosta’s CNN special on Monday managed only 511,000 viewers. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

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