President Trump seems to have a fixation with the size of his audiences — and with getting the numbers wrong. He was wrong again Thursday, falsely claiming that the broadcast audience for his first State of the Union address was “the highest number in history.”
After a rare three consecutive days of not starting his day on Twitter and stirring up controversy, Trump shed his restraints, tweeting twice against congressional Democrats and a third time boasting that his audience of 45.6 million viewers for Tuesday’s night’s address broke all records.
As with Trump’s boasts about the size of the crowd at his inauguration and subsequent similar events, this one is easily proved wrong.
Trump’s audience, measured by Nielsen data, is below the 48 million viewers who watched former President Obama's first State of the Union address in 2010. It’s also below 52 million — the number that tuned in to watch President George W. Bush’s first such speech in 2002 and President Clinton’s in 1994.
The Tuesday audience also was slightly lower than Trump’s own in February of last year, when 47.7 million viewers on broadcast and cable networks watched him address a joint session of Congress just over a month after his inauguration. That speech was not a State of the Union address, which occurs after a president’s first year in office.