President Barack Obama’s first State of the Union in 2010 drew 48 million viewers, and Bill Clinton and George W. Bush also garnered larger audiences for their first SOTU addresses. The audience for Trump’s State of the Union also didn’t match his first speech before a joint session of Congress, which was 47.7 million.
“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!” Trump wrote.
There was some clarification later on Thursday. Trump’s reference to the “highest number” connects it to 45.6 million viewers, but a White House source said that the president “was referring to highest in cable news history, which is why he specifically mentioned Fox News.”
Trump was right that Fox News received the largest audience for its coverage of the address. Nielsen did not have immediate figures on audience rankings for cable networks through history, only total audiences.
A CBS News instant poll after the speech showed that those surveyed responded favorably.
Trump’s made similar claims of record audience size in the past, starting with the number of people who attended his inaugural address on Jan. 20, 2017. His then-Press Secretary Sean Spicer gave an impromptu press statement to dispute media reports that the crowd size was lower than that of Obama’s two inaugurals. “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period,” Spicer said. He later mocked his own statement when he appeared at last year’s Emmy Awards.