Donald Trump is yet again spreading fake news.
The president took to Twitter to boast over the official Nielsen ratings to his State of the Union address on Tuesday night.
And while he started off on the right track, citing 45.6 million people tuned in to the Tuesday night broadcast, he followed up with the false claim that it was “the highest number in history.”
We could start with Trump’s own speeches, since his joint address to Congress shortly after his inauguration drew in 48 million viewers, according to CNN. Though it isn’t a State of the Union address, it’s worth pointing out that Trump isn’t even breaking his own records here.
Where does his speech actually rank?
Looking only at State of the Union addresses, then, there are five that rank ahead of Trump. So no, Mr. President, you didn’t make history with this speech. You didn’t even break the top five.
George W. Bush‘s 2003 State of the Union drew in the highest number of viewers, at 62,061,000, according to Nielsen’s data. Bill Clinton‘s 1998 address came in second, with 53,077,000 viewers, with Bush again on the list for third place with his 2002 address. That address took in 51,773,000 viewers. Then we have Barack Obama, whose 2010 address brought in 48,009,595 viewers. And Clinton takes up the fifth place spot with his 1994 address, bringing in 45,800,000 viewers.
Which means that not only did Trump not crack the top five but he’s also two spots behind Obama.
It’s not like this kind of grandiose, easily-disproved claim is new, though. The president infamously claimed that his inauguration crowd was the biggest ever and had his press secretary assert as much in the very first presidential briefing.
That false claim put the term “alternative facts” into mainstream consciousness, and the spin has never really stopped.