November 15, 2019

An average of 13.1 million people tuned in to the six major networks during Wednesday's live coverage of the first public hearings in the House impeachment inquiry, according to preliminary numbers Nielsen released Thursday. If you add PBS, Telemundo, CNN, and HLN to the numbers for Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, NBC, ABC, and CBS, the average viewership rises to 13.8 million from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

To put those numbers in perspective, nearly 13 million people watched former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's testimony in July, while about 20 million people tuned in for former FBI Director James Comey's post-firing hearing in 2017 and 2018's confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Wednesday night's CMA Awards drew 11.1 million viewers to ABC.

Fox News, somewhat ironically, drew the highest viewership numbers, with an average of 2.89 million people tuning in, followed by MSNBC's 2.7 million. Next came ABC (2 million viewers), CBS (1.97 million), CNN (1.9 million), and NBC (1.7 million). ABC won the coveted 25-54 demographic, with an average of 496,000 viewers, followed by Fox News and NBC. The numbers don't include C-SPAN or most streaming viewers.

These numbers fall "far short of blockbuster level," Vulture notes, but given the obscurity of the two witnesses — U.S. Ambassador William Taylor and State Department official George Kent — and today's "era of audience fragmentation and streaming services," Wednesday's hearings actually "drew a big audience by 2019 standards." Peter Weber

2:11 p.m.

First lady Melania Trump is officially donning a face mask during the COVID-19 pandemic, although the jury's still out on whether her husband will follow suit.

In a social media post Thursday, the first lady shared a photo of herself wearing what appears to be a surgical mask, touting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendation "to wear cloth face coverings."

"Remember, this does NOT replace the importance of social distancing," she wrote. "It is recommended to keep us all safe."

Melania's masking comes one week after President Trump announced he would not be wearing a mask, despite the CDC-issued guidelines urging people to do so. At the time, Trump implied that it would be odd to be "sitting in the Oval Office, behind that beautiful Resolute Desk" while wearing a mask, so it's unclear how he's taking this news.

The photo of the first lady appears to show her wearing a surgical mask rather than the CDC-recommended "cloth face covering," the former of which is recommended only for use by health care professionals and medical first responders amid critical supply shortages.