Trump Says His SOTU Ratings Were The Highest Ever; They weren’t
President Trump was caught exaggerating his size again. The morning after his first State of the Union address, Trump claimed his speech was the most-watched ever.
“Thank you for all of the nice compliments and reviews on the State of the Union speech,” he tweeted just after 7 a.m. on Thursday. “45.6 million people watched, the highest number in history. @FoxNews beat every other Network, for the first time ever, with 11.7 million people tuning in. Delivered from the heart!”
Thank you for all of the nice compliments and reviews on the State of the Union speech. 45.6 million people watched, the highest number in history. @FoxNews beat every other Network, for the first time ever, with 11.7 million people tuning in. Delivered from the heart!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 1, 2018
Trump was right about the 45.6 million figure — that lines up with what Nielsen reported. (It doesn’t include streaming data.) But that’s nowhere close to the biggest audience for a State of the Union speech.
In fact, it ranks ninth since 1993. The biggest audience for a SOTU address was Bill Clinton’s first, in 1993, with 66.7 million viewers. Barack Obama’s first address also had a bigger audience than Trump’s, drawing 48 million viewers in 2010.
Even Fox News was quick to fact-check the president:
#SOTU TV Viewers:
1993: 66.9M* (largest TV audience)
*Not an official SOTU pic.twitter.com/OZlUHmGQp4
— Fox News Research (@FoxNewsResearch) February 1, 2018
Trump did get higher ratings than the Grammys, which he predicted he would. The annual awards show gave 19.8 million people fodder to complain about how out of touch it is.
It’s not clear why Trump thought the speech was the highest-rated of all time. “There is no data to back up his boast, and plenty of data to contradict him,” said CNN’s Brian Stelter, who noted that “Fox & Friends,” the president’s preferred morning program, mentioned the 45.6 million stat and said Fox News won the cable ratings that night (which was true). But the hosts didn’t say anything about 45.6 million being the highest number ever.
It’s been well documented that Trump is obsessed with ratings, dating back to his days as the host of NBC’s “The Apprentice.” He was called out about exaggerating his rankings then, too: “Vanity Fair” reported that he asked an NBC publicist to tout the show as the No. 1 show on television when it actually ranked No. 72 and was losing its time slot to “Mike & Molly.”