Mr. Spicer’s briefings, carried live by the major cable news networks, are pulling in an average of 4.3 million viewers, according to data from Nielsen. Audiences across Fox News, MSNBC and CNN grow by an average of 10 percent when Mr. Spicer comes onscreen to discuss the latest news on President Trump, statistics show.
The soap opera at the White House is outscoring actual soaps like “General Hospital” and “The Bold and the Beautiful,” which typically air around the same time. Mr. Spicer’s ratings are on par with prime-time entertainment like “MasterChef Junior” on Fox and the ABC sitcom “Dr. Ken,” which draw around four million viewers each.
The big ratings offer a quantifiable measure for what has become a truism in Washington: Three weeks into the Trump administration, Mr. Spicer’s daily joust with reporters — peppered with fiery exchanges, memorable malapropisms and some much discussed dissembling — are now must-see-TV for the political class.
Since Inauguration Day, Fox News’s audience from 1 to 3 p.m. on weekdays has grown to about 2.2 million, up 62 percent from the previous year. CNN and MSNBC have also seen big increases in daytime audiences.
Spicer has what some describe as the least desirable job in Washington, balancing his relationship with reporters while spinning on behalf of a president who has shown open hostility toward the press.