TV Ratings: MSNBC Boosted by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie Bridge Scandal Apology

Chris Christie Time 100 - P 2011
Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for TIME

Chris Christie Time 100 - P 2011

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's extraordinary apology and two-hour press conference Thursday in response the George Washington Bridge scandal helped to boost MSNBC over perennial cable news leader Fox News and gave the network its highest-rated night since last April's aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing.

From 8-11 p.m., MSNBC pulled in 348,000 viewers in news' target demographic of adults 25-54, compared to 311,00 for Fox News. CNN averaged 251,000 demo viewers from 8-11 p.m. with Anderson Cooper 360 and the documentary Sole Survivor, about lone survivors of large plane crashes. 

At 8 p.m., FNC's The O'Reilly Factor still edged out All In With Chris Hayes by 4,000 viewers; O'Reilly averaged 316,000 to Hayes' 312,000. But The Rachel Maddow Show bested The Kelly File 400,000 viewers to 347,000.

Maddow led last night's broadcast with an alternate theory about the Christie administration's motivation for closing three lanes on the busiest bridge in the world last September, ensnaring motorists including police, emergency vehicles and school buses carrying children in hours of gridlock.

At 10 p.m., The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell pulled in 332,000 viewers in the demo compared to 271,000 for Sean Hannity