Tucker Carlson delivers program's largest audience during Iranian missile strike coverage

Tucker Carlson delivers program's largest audience during Iranian missile strike coverage
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Tucker CarlsonTucker CarlsonTrump punts on Stone pardon decision after sentencing Meghan McCain after Gaetz says Trump should pardon Roger Stone: 'Oh come on' Fox News legal analyst: Only a pardon can 'fairly undo' Roger Stone 'mess' MORE's prime-time Fox News program delivered its highest-rated show during breaking news coverage of Iran's missile attack on military facilities housing U.S. military personnel in Iraq on Tuesday night, according to Nielsen Media Research.

“Tucker Carlson Tonight” delivered 5.6 million viewers as news broke of the Iran retaliation for the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. drone strike, the most viewers since the show launched in 2016.

The Iranian missiles ultimately resulted in no U.S. casualties.

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Carlson's finish was a close second to Fox News's "Hannity," which registered 5.7 million viewers, while Martha MacCallum's "The Story" on the same network took in 4.74 million viewers.

The average audience for “Hannity” in 2019 was 3.3 million and 3.1 million for “Tucker Carlson Tonight," according to Nielsen.

Carlson has been outspoken in his opposition to U.S. military involvement in the Middle East, and has repeatedly called for U.S. troops to return home while questioning assessments by the intelligence community that Iran and Soleimani were considered an imminent threat.

"It's hard to remember now, but as recently as last week, most people didn't consider Iran an imminent threat," Carlson said in his Wednesday night opening monologue. "Iranian saboteurs were not committing acts of terror in our cities. Oh, but our leaders tell us they were about to any second and that's why we struck first."

"What's so striking is how many people appear to accept this uncritically," he continued. "Just the other day, you'll remember, our intel agencies were considered politically tainted and suspect. Certainly, on this show, they are — were — and will be for quite some time."

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News of the Iranian strikes also propelled MSNBC and CNN to higher audiences.

CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" saw 2.9 million viewers tuning in, while the network's "Chris CuomoChristopher (Chris) Charles CuomoTrump takes shot at Cuomo's brother ahead of Oval Office meeting Buttigieg: It was 'disgraceful' to hear Trump's attacks on Romney Media's selective outrage exposed in McSally-Raju kerfuffle MORE Prime Time" had 2.73 million. The two programs averaged less than 1 million viewers per night in 2019.

"The Rachel MaddowRachel Anne MaddowTlaib says she held Omar's hand during 'triggering' moments at Trump's State of the Union speech Schiff: Bolton 'refused' to submit affidavit on Trump's involvement in Ukraine controversy Tlaib says mention of Kavanaugh was 'trigger' to walk out of Trump speech MORE Show" was the most-watched show on MSNBC on Tuesday night, taking in 3.4 million viewers. "All in with Chris Hayes" was second with 2.46 million tuning in.

Maddow and Hayes saw an average of 2.6 million and 1.6 million viewers in 2019, respectively.