Fox News finds itself in an unaccustomed spot _ out of first

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Fox News Channel, which saw its usual dominance of primetime upset last week by MSNBC, led Monday night in terms of both viewers between 25 and 54 - the demographic most coveted by advertisers - as well as overall audience, according to preliminary numbers from Nielsen. On Monday, the network pre-empted "The Five" at 9 p.m. with an hour newscast hosted by Shepard Smith focusing on the terrorist attack in Manchester, followed by a live telecast of Hannity, whose show is usually taped. "Is this the beginning of Fox actually having to work hard to keep its place?"

Ratings held up for the most part in the first few weeks after Fox replaced O'Reilly at 8 p.m. He died on May 18th.

With Megyn Kelly now at NBC and O'Reilly off podcasting somewhere, Sean Hannity is the only network stalwart holding down the FNC lineup. "Tucker is more of a prosecutor".

Nonetheless, the fact that Fox has lost ground just as its old guard moved on is probably a coincidence. (That's in the demo and total viewers.) But with CNN and MSNBC on its heels in different dayparts, this last week will prove to be make-or-break for all parties.

And yes, a lot of this is President Donald Trump's fault. After eight long years under Barack Obama, right-leaning viewers flocked to their go-to channel to bask in his inauguration and extremely short-lived honeymoon. The surge was fueled by a huge week of news that included President Trump's firing of Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey and the fallout that came afterward.

Whether it's permanent or temporary, the current ratings malaise certainly raises larger questions for Fox News as it confronts a key transition period and figures out how to cover the Trump administration.

However, the longtime cable news king remained second in total viewership, with an average of 2.41 million viewers over the course of the week, compared with CNN's 1.65 million and MSNBC's leading 2.44 million.

That didn't bother Fox when George W. Bush was president, but those were also the halcyon days for MSNBC and its prime-time anchor at the time, Keith Olbermann.

While Ailes was heavily (and deservedly) criticized over both the political legacy he left behind and the reports of serial sexual harassment that defined the end of his career, there was heated agreement within the press that Ailes was a television marketing master whose ratings success was untouched - and that the Ailes model would outlive even his own presence as at the network.

What's so shocking about Fox News' ratings woes is how swift the downward movement has been. But when Trump isn't the story, the ratings shift.