Donald Trump touted the ratings his daily press briefings during the coronavirus pandemic are getting, comparing them to the final season of The Bachelor, in a tweet Sunday afternoon.
“President Trump is a ratings hit. Since reviving the daily White House briefing Mr. Trump and his coronavirus updates have attracted an average audience of 8.5 million on cable news, roughly the viewership of the season finale of ‘The Bachelor.’ Numbers are continuing to rise…” he tweeted.
It was the first in a series of tweets in which he quoted and summarized a New York Times piece from March 25 that explored the phenomenon of the high ratings for his daily press briefings and asked whether or not networks should air them, as the Times alleges that such briefings can involve inaccurate information being disseminated.
The Times noted, as Trump did in a later tweet, that his daily press briefings have averaged an audience of around 8.5 million people. That’s roughly on par with what ABC brought in with its final season of The Bachelor.
One press briefing brought in 12.2 viewers across CNN, MSNBC and Fox News. That’s roughly on par with what Monday Night Football usually brings in. And as the Times points out, those TV viewership numbers don’t account for the millions who watch the briefings online.
However, Times writer Michael M. Grynbaum suggested that networks may want to consider not showing the daily press briefings, as “Mr. Trump has repeatedly delivered information that doctors and public health officials have called ill informed, misleading or downright wrong,” he writes.
In fact, it’s not just Trump’s daily press briefings during the coronavirus that Grynbaum alleges have caused consternation for some broadcasters. He suggests that in showing Trump’s briefings, the networks must then devote time to fact-check, correct, and provide context for some of his statements.
In fact, at least two networks, CNN and MSNBC, have cut away from the final portions of some of Trump’s press briefings, for different reasons. In response to criticism from the administration for cutting away, a CNN spokesperson said simply that the network would make its own editorial decisions, while MSNBC said that the “information no longer appeared to be valuable to the important ongoing discussion around public health.”
Trump, for his part, took notice of the fact that Grynbaum suggested that networks stop airing his briefings.
Because the “Ratings” of my News Conferences etc. are so high, “Bachelor finale, Monday Night Football type numbers” according to the @nytimes, the Lamestream Media is going CRAZY. “Trump is reaching too many people, we must stop him.” said one lunatic. See you at 5:00 P.M.!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 29, 2020
Back on Twitter, Trump is getting criticism for focusing on his television ratings during a worldwide pandemic.
For example, Fox News correspondent Brit Hume appeared to have been taken aback by the series of tweets.
Why bother to tweet about this, of all things? https://t.co/ORce5bNNMy
— Brit Hume (@brithume) March 29, 2020
One Twitter user pointed out the juxtaposition of a correspondent on Trump’s favorite news source questioning one of Trump’s tweets.
The exact moment when Brit Hume begins to suspect that Donald Trump is a megalomaniac with no concern for anyone or anything but his own ego.
— JRehling (@JRehling) March 29, 2020
However, another Twitter user suggested that Hume had failed to grasp the fact that Trump isn’t getting the credit he (the user) thinks Trump deserves.
Because the entire media in this country and the democrat party will never give him credit for anything. You of all people should understand this.
— Jackson (@Cavu172) March 29, 2020