Fox News tops cable news in ratings race for Trump address, Democratic response

Fox News was the most-watched network in cable news for President TrumpDonald John TrumpCould Donald Trump and Boris Johnson be this generation's Reagan-Thatcher? Merkel backs Democratic congresswomen over Trump How China's currency manipulation cheats America on trade MORE's prime-time address on Tuesday night, delivering 8.043 million total viewers, according to preliminary numbers released by Nielsen Media Research.

MSNBC finished second in total viewers, registering 4.243 million viewers on Tuesday night, while CNN came in third, with 3.556 million.

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During the address, which was broadcast on all the major broadcast and cable news networks, Trump argued that there was a “humanitarian crisis” at the southern border and that his proposed wall is the only thing that can stop it.

ABC, CBS, NBC and MSNBC had deliberated for hours about granting the president his request for a prime-time speech on national airwaves before eventually joining Fox News and CNN in committing to live coverage of the Oval Office address.

The broadcasts also included the Democratic response to Trump's speech, which was delivered by House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDHS chief to Pelosi: Emergency border funding 'has already had an impact' The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants Trump faces new hit on deficit MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTop Democrats demand security assessment of Trump properties Lawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens Trump administration denies temporary immigrant status to Venezuelans in US MORE (D-N.Y.).

In the key 25-54 demographic that advertisers covet most, Fox News finished first, with 1.870 million viewers, followed by CNN, with 1.385 million. MSNBC was third in the category, with 811,000 viewers.

Trump's speech came on the 18th day of a partial government shutdown, which began on Dec. 22 amid an impasse between lawmakers and the White House over Trump's demand for $5.7 billion in border wall funding.

Trump told reporters on Wednesday afternoon that he is considering declaring a national emergency to build a border wall if a deal can't be reached with Democrats. Negotiations are scheduled to resume later Wednesday afternoon.

“I think we might work a deal, and if we don’t we might go that route,” Trump said during a bill signing in the Oval Office.

Some legal experts and Democratic lawmakers argue the president does not have the authority to declare a national emergency under these circumstances.