President Trump says his State of the Union viewership was the highest ever. The ratings say otherwise.

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President Donald Trump boasted that the viewership of his State of the Union speech was “the highest number in history” — a claim at odds with ratings figures released the day before. In a Feb 1 tweet, President Trump said, "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! " That number matched a figure released by Nielsen based on viewership on 12 broadcast networks and cable channels.

But the audience was smaller than the 48 million who watched Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress in 2017 and smaller than several speeches delivered by recent predecessors. Barack Obama's joint session speech in 2009 drew 52 million viewers; George W. Bush's State of the Union address in 2003 drew 62 million viewers; and Bill Clinton's joint session speech in 1993 drew 67 million viewers. (A newly elected president's first address to a joint session of Congress is not considered a State of the Union speech.) A White House official, who was not authorized to speak for the president and spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that President Trump intended to say that the cable ratings for his speech were the highest ever.


President Trump says his State of the Union viewership was the highest ever. The ratings say otherwise.