Moments before Michael Jackson’s memorial service began on Tuesday — and with blocks of seats in the Staples Center still empty — Fox News’s Shep Smith and Greta Van Susteren shared (as I noted then) this exchange:

SMITH: I wonder if the news media has not run away with this thing in a way the public has not…


VAN SUSTEREN: We’ll see, all the media organizations are here, they have all spent a bloody fortune on this…. we’ll see how much viewers are interested…

So?

31 million viewers watched on 19 networks, with 8.9 million watching on cable (CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Headline News) and another 14.3 million on the broadcast networks. Better ratings than Pres. Reagan’s funeral in 2004 (some 20 million viewers) but not quite Princess Di level (over 33 million).

h/t, TVNewser

Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.