Hopefully, Rachel Maddow took the rest of the day off last Friday after her show aired. Sure, there were only two hours left in the day by then, but still—she probably had a nice cup of oolong, maybe a bento box from that good spot on 63rd. If so, she earned it—Maddow was the most-watched person on TV.
Or at least, she was for an hour on Friday night. According to Nielson ratings, The Rachel Maddow Show wasn’t just the top-rated news discussion show of the night, kicking the shit out of Jeanine Pirro, who was subbing for Sean Hannity. It was the number-one show on all of television for the 9-10 p.m. hour, beating the networks as well as cable. In fact, Maddow almost had the top-rated show for the entire Friday night primetime TV block of 8-11 p.m.—the only thing that managed to (barely) squeak past her was an episode of Dateline on NBC, and even that was only by a difference of 0.2 million, which is a lot of people, but pretty minuscule when you consider the traditional reach and advertising scope of broadcast networks vs. MSNBC.
This is in keeping with the trend of the past year, as Maddow’s ratings have been climbing high enough to actually compete with Fox News—normally the undisputed ratings king, thanks to the fact that a hell of a lot of retired folks like to sit in front of their TVs all day and watch cable news that reassures them young people are scary. She beat Hannity’s ratings in the fall and in March of this year, and while Hannity came back to retake the crown, the fact that it’s now an ongoing back-and-forth between the two hosts suggests that even the power of old white people to watch insane amounts of TV is struggling to hold back the tide of, well, the daily reality of the world we live in now.
Maddow should enjoy the moment, however, because once the fall TV schedule begins, this will probably not be happening any more—not unless The Big Bang Theory suddenly decides to become a platform for Chuck Lorre to argue in favor of third-world starvation or something. Still, that’s a lot of people cheering on the Robert Mueller investigation.