Our apologies, President Donald Trump — but the 45.6 million people who watched your State of the Union address on Tuesday was most certainly not “the highest number in history.”
That’s what the President tweeted out Thursday morning at 7:02 a.m. ET (below). While it’s a good, strong tune-in tally for these sorts of things, Trump’s SOTU sum is nowhere near the record.
As a matter of fact, that audience count is only good for the ninth-biggest annual congressional address by a U.S. president in Nielsen history, which dates back to 1993.
It’s important to note in that number we’re also including a POTUS’ Address to the Joint Sessions of Congress, which is what they present a few months after first taking office. Even if we ignored those, which are technically not SOTU speeches, Trump’s Tuesday effort would only rank sixth all-time. Womp-womp.
Here is every annual national address that trumped Trump’s. The Addresses to the Joint Sessions of Congress are asterisked(*).
1993* (Bill Clinton): 66.9 million total viewers
2003 (George W. Bush): 62.1 million
1998 (Clinton): 53.1 million
2009* (Barack Obama): 52.4 million
2002 (G.W. Bush): 51.8 million
2010 (Obama): 48.0 million
2017* (Donald Trump): 47.7 million
1994 (Clinton): 45.8 million
Hey, at least we can agree you “delivered from the heart.”
It’s possible that Trump got his records mixed up here. To be fair to No. 45, this State of the Union was a record in terms of cable news viewership.
There are a few problems with that boast, however. First, cable news is constantly growing, so it’s not like Bill Clinton was going to have a chance at that particular podium.
Second, Trump’s cable news record is pretty much entirely thanks to Fox News Channel, which was the most-watched network for the 9 p.m. ET – 10:30 p.m. (ish) address. It doesn’t take a talking head to understand why Trump’s supporters flocked to the most conservative-leaning major news outlet.
Maybe next year, Donald. Until then, keep tweeting.