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MSNBC's Brian Williams and Rachel Maddow. Photo: Heidi Gutman/MSNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

MSNBC topped Fox News in total viewers during the week of Dec. 17 for the first time since 2000 as its flagship "The Rachel Maddow Show" ended the week as cable news' most-watched program. (Update: Fox News notes that Sean Hannity, who is opposite Maddow at 9 p.m. ET, has been out for the holidays since Dec. 14.)

The big picture: MSNBC's rise comes as the AP reports that Fox News' fortunes may be tied to the state of news from the Trump administration. Sean Hannity, the network's preeminent host and "Maddow" competitor, is set to earn the title of most popular cable news personality this year, but his ratings have fallen 19% in the month following the midterm elections as the rest of Fox News' prime time slate have also fallen 20% in the same time period.

Disclosure: NBC is an investor in Axios and NBC News Chairman Andy Lack is on our board of directors.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

U.S. surpasses 25 million COVID cases

A mass COVID-19 vaccination site at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 22 in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The U.S has confirmed more than 25 million coronavirus cases, per Johns Hopkins data updated on Sunday.

The big picture: President Biden has said he expects the country's death toll to exceed 500,000 people by next month, as the rate of deaths due to the virus continues to escalate.

GOP implosion: Trump threats, payback

Spotted last week on a work van in Evansville, Ind. Photo: Sam Owens/The Evansville Courier & Press via Reuters

The GOP is getting torn apart by a spreading revolt against party leaders for failing to stand up for former President Trump and punish his critics.

Why it matters: Republican leaders suffered a nightmarish two months in Washington. Outside the nation’s capital, it's even worse.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
7 hours ago - Economy & Business

The limits of Biden's plan to cancel student debt

Data: New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax; Chart: Axios Visuals

There’s a growing consensus among Americans who want President Biden to cancel student debt — but addressing the ballooning debt burden is much more complicated than it seems.

Why it matters: Student debt is stopping millions of Americans from buying homes, buying cars and starting families. And the crisis is rapidly getting worse.