Trump brags about high TV viewership of coronavirus briefings


(Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday bragged about the millions of people tuning in to view his daily press briefings on the coronavirus pandemic, saying on Twitter that his average ratings matched a season finale of “The Bachelor.”

“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 tweeted. “‘Trump is reaching too many people, we must stop him.’ said one lunatic. See you at 5:00 P.M.!”

Trump’s daily coronavirus updates have attracted an average audience of 8.5 million on cable news, the New York Times reported on March 25, citing data from Nielsen Holdings Plc.

Trump had abandoned the custom of having regular press briefings at the White House, but brought them back this month to update the public on his coronavirus task force.

The New York Times said viewership of the briefings had risen because people were concerned about the virus and stuck at home. Trump’s briefing on March 23 drew nearly 12.2 million viewers on the major cable news channels, the newspaper said.

Millions more than usual are watching on ABC, CBS, NBC and online streaming sites, it said, but reliable numbers are available only for cable news.

MSNBC cut away from the March 23 briefing after about an hour, later saying in a statement that “the information no longer appeared to be valuable to the important ongoing discussion around public health.”

During the briefings Trump hade made inaccurate claims about his administration’s response to the virus and undercut warnings by public officials.

On March 26, Trump said the pandemic “was something that nobody has ever thought could happen to this country,” even though public health officials warned for years that the country was unprepared to respond to a pandemic.

Trump and top administration officials for weeks downplayed the outbreak, which began in China in December, before shifting their tone about the severity of the health crisis more recently.

Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Daniel Wallis