Acosta, who become a household name and hero of the anti-Trump “resistance” due to his combative style of questioning, was given a gig anchoring the weekend edition of “CNN Newsroom” between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET on Saturdays and 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET on Sundays.
The Acosta-anchored Saturday programs have averaged 796,000 viewers since the former White House correspondent took over on April 3. Over the first three months of 2021, CNN averaged 1.141 million viewers on Saturdays during the same time slot, indicating a 30% drop in viewership with Acosta behind the anchor desk
But the decline isn’t simply a product of CNN’s brief post-election ratings bump at the beginning of the year. CNN averaged 1.247 million viewers on Saturdays between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET during all of 2020, 36% more than the average for the Acosta-anchored programs.
Acosta’s viewership issue is worse on Sundays, when his edition of “CNN Newsroom” has averaged 710,000 viewers. That’s a staggering 41% drop from the network’s average of 1.196 million viewers in the timeslot over the first three months of 2021.
CNN averaged 1.149 million viewers on Sundays between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET over 2020, indicating that Acosta has lost 38% of last year’s audience.
The numbers don’t get any brighter when focusing on the key demographic of adults between the ages of 25-54, where Acosta’s program is down 40% compared to 2020 on Saturday and 43% on Sunday.
During his time in the White House, Acosta sparred with everyone from a trio of press secretaries and senior policy adviser Stephen Miller to Trump himself — developing a reputation for grandstanding and shouting questions at inappropriate times.
He famously refused to give up the microphone in 2018 after he engaged in a contentious back-and-forth with Trump during a heated post-midterm election press conference. During the shocking scene, Acosta refused to pass the microphone to a female White House aide, instigating brief contact between the two. His White House pass was revoked later that day but it was eventually restored when CNN argued that it violated the First and Fifth Amendment rights of Acosta and the network.
The encounter with the aide didn’t change Acosta’s style, as he continued his aggressive behavior toward members of the Trump administration for the duration of his time as a White House correspondent.
On his way out the door, Acosta was widely mocked for admitting he doesn’t plan to cover Joe Biden’s presidency as actively as he did Biden’s predecessor, claiming covering Trump was “an experience that might merit hazard pay.”