President Donald Trump touted the ratings from his State of the Union Thursday morning, tweeting that the numbers were record-breaking. But they actually weren’t.“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. [Fox News] beat every other Network, for the first time ever, with 11.7 million people tuning in. Delivered from the heart!” Trump tweeted Thursday morning, his third tweet of the day.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 1, 2018
Trump’s right about the numbers. Per Nielsen data, approximately 45.6 million viewers tuned in to watch his speech. And he’s also accurate that Fox News garnered the highest ratings, although, per Nielsen data, the network actually had 11.5 million viewers, not 11.7. But he’s not right when he called the numbers the “highest number in history.”
Trump’s three immediate predecessors — former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton — all amassed higher ratings from their first State of the Union than he did: 48 million people tuned in to watch Obama in 2010; 51.7 million tuned in to Bush in 2002; and 45.8 million tuned in for Clinton in 1994. (The President delivers an address to the joint sessions of Congress during his or her first year, and the State of the Union the following year).
Trump’s speech, however, did have the highest views since Obama’s in 2010.
This is not the first time the President or his administration has inflated statistics in this regard. After Trump’s inauguration, he said 1.5 million people attended — which was dubious based on photographs — and his then-Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters, “that was the largest audience to witness an inauguration, period.” Spicer later said he regretted making that claim.