President Donald Trump tweeted on Feb. 1 that the television audience who viewed his State of the Union address was probably "the largest in history." Although, it is very clear by the ratios, that this news is false.
According to the preliminary Nielsen ratings, more than 45 million American families tuned in to watch the address on the evening of Jan. 30, USA Today reports.
Nielsen has been keeping careful track of the State of the Union ratings since about 1994. According to their reports, there have been at least four State of the Union addresses with a much bigger audience than Trump's.
In his early years of presidency, former President George W. Bush saw the biggest audience, which was an estimated 51.8 million in the year 2002, and 62 million in the year 2003. The nation was then recovering from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and there were active wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Former President Barrack Obama’s State of the Union address in 2010 grossed an audience of about 48 million people. Former President Bill Clinton, whose first State of the Union address was in the year 1994, gathered around 45.8 million views, which just edges out President Trump’s first address.
Although, the numbers do not include any presidents' first televised address to Congress in their first inaugural year because these speeches were not State of the Union addresses. Those speeches have always captured more attention and higher ratings than the State of the Union addresses, and in all fairness, President Trump captured audiences in 47.7 million households in 2017.
"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,” said President Trump. “Delivered from the heart!!”
Trump also made sure to note that his most preferred network, Fox News, had more views than 13 other networks, airing the event to almost 11.7 million viewers.
Trump’s obsessions with ratings and views can be traced as far back as when he was a rich reality television star, and he still wants those views so now, in his presidency, it seems if he does not have them, he simply inflates the number to whatever sounds good to him at the time. So very often, he can also be heard claiming, very inaccurately, that his network television show, "The Apprentice," was the number-one show on television at the time.
Though this is not the first time that Trump has boasted of large crowds and historic television ratings for an address, which seemed to have set a combative tone for his presidency. The White House press secretary, who used to be Sean Spicer and is now Sarah Huckabee Sanders, is oftentimes left holding the ball and doing battle on his behalf when members of the press challenge his grandiose claims.
Readers on the internet shared their thoughts on USA Today's Facebook share of President Trump's recent claims.
"The beauty of having a pathological liar in office is knowing the truth is the opposite of what he says. 100% of the time," wrote one.
Another chimed in: "Does this surprise anyone? He’s been lying and worrying about crowd size for over a year. That’s one of 3 things he actually cares about...his crowd and/or ratings, making money and himself. That’s it."