Accuracy in Media

President Donald Trump posted on Twitter that he had the highest State of the Union TV ratings in history. However, that was incorrect. This is what he claimed:

“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!”

The media criticized him for the statement because it was not true. This week’s State of the Union speech had 45.6 million viewers, which is what the president said, but it is less than last year’s unofficial State of the Union Speech — first-time presidents, in their first year, do not have an official State of the Union speech until their first year in office.

Here are the higher ratings among the State of the Union speeches, per Nielsen:

Date Networks Combined Household Rating Combined No. of Households Combined No. of Viewers President
2/17/1993* ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN 44.3 41,200,000 66,900,000 Clinton
1/28/03 ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, CNN, CNBC, FOXNC, MSNBC 38.8 41,447,000 62,061,000 G. W. Bush
1/27/98 ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, CNN, CNBC, FOXNC, MSNBC 37.2 36,513,000 53,077,000 Clinton
1/29/02 ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, CNN, CNBC, FOXNC, MSNBC 33.6 35,547,000 51,773,000 G.W. Bush
1/25/94 ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN 32.9 31,000,000 45,800,000 Clinton
2/24/2009* ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, CNBC, CNN, FOXNC, MSNBC, TELEMUNDO, UNIVISION 32.5 37,185,000 52,373,000 Obama
1/19/99 ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, CNN, FOXNC, MSNBC 31 30,700,000 43,500,000 Clinton
1/27/10 ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, TEL, UNI, CNN, BET, CNBC, FOXNC, MSNBC 29.8 34,182,725 48,009,595 Obama
1/23/96 ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, CNN 29.6 28,400,000 40,900,000 Clinton
1/23/07 ABC, CBS, FOX**, NBC, CNN, FOXNC, MSNBC, TELEMUNDO**, UNIVISION ** 29.6 32,968,000 45,486,000 G.W. Bush
1/24/95 ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN 29.5 28,100,000 42,200,000 Clinton
2/28/2017* ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, UNI, PBS, CNN, Fox Business Net, FOXNC, MSNBC, and NBC Universo 28.7 33,857,000 47,741,000 Trump

Nielsen, which compiles the ratings, did report that this week’s State of the Union speech was the No. 1 show in America the night when the speech was live.

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