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Demo Debate A Slam Dunk For MSNBC

What could have been the final debate of the Democratic presidential primaries was a huge success for MSNBC, leading the cable news channel to its highest ratings ever. More than 7.8 million viewers tuned in to Tuesday's debate between Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, according to Nielsen Media Research, making it the third-most-watched debate this cycle, behind ABC's Democratic debate on the eve of the New Hampshire presidential primary and CNN's Kodak Theatre offering this month. And it was far above anything else ever shown in MSNBC's 11-year history. Its previous record was the 3.7 million viewers who tuned in on March 19, 2003, for coverage of the beginning of the Iraq War.

Ironically, the MSNBC debate almost didn't happen after fill-in host David Shuster upset the Clinton campaign by suggesting Chelsea Clinton was "sort of being pimped out" to help her mother. NBC News senior vice president. Phil Griffin says interest in the debate was key to the high ratings but he hopes to continue growing the channel, which typically lags behind the ratings numbers of Fox News and CNN.



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