The cable news network edged out Fox News between 11 p.m. and midnight Thursday when news first broke of a shootout between police and two suspects. CNN had 986,000 total viewers, while Fox News had 954,000, Nielsen data said. MSNBC came in third with 392,000 viewers.
Fox News saw a 48 percent increase in ratings between Monday and Thursday, while MSNBC had a 37 percent increase, the data indicated, as reported Friday by the Los Angeles Times.
One suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, a native of the Caucasus region of the former Soviet Union, was killed in a firefight with police Thursday. His brother, 19-year-old Dzhokar Tsarnaev, was apprehended Friday night in Watertown, Mass.
CNN President Jeff Zucker issued a memo to the network staff praising them for their coverage of the marathon bombing and the West, Texas, fertilizer plant explosion, The Hollywood Reporter said.
"You have worked tirelessly, around the clock, to share these stories. And our audiences have responded, making it clear that they rely on us in ever increasing ways," he wrote in a statement. "In front of the cameras and behind the scenes, you have shown the world what makes us CNN."
Early on in its coverage of the Boston marathon bombings and the subsequent manhunt for the suspects, CNN was mired in journalistic embarrassment, the Times said. The network reported police had arrested a "dark-skinned" male on the same day of the bombing, drawing criticism from the NAACP after the report turned out to be false.
Zucker acknowledged the network's errors in his statement.
"And when we made a mistake, we moved quickly to acknowledge it and correct it," he said.