Nielsens are in and it’s official: Obama’s SOTU a flop

Media viewership continues to decline for Barack Obama’s annual political pander-fest, as voters of all stripes tire of lies and laundry lists of “free” stuff.

Cartoon by Branco. Re[produced with permission.*
Cartoon by Branco. Re[produced with permission.*

WASHINGTON, January 24, 2015 – The final ratings are now in and it’s official: President Obama’s midweek State of the Union (SOTU) laundry list and laugh fest, 2015 Edition, racked up a whopping 33.3 million viewers. That’s the number reported by the Nielsen organization Friday, which includes viewership on 13 networks plus a tape-delay transmission on Spanish-language cable channel Univision.

That number is down slightly from the 2014 SOTU edition, and way down from the 52.4 million viewers the President attracted in his 2009 debut performance before Congress in his “First Address to the Joint Session of Congress,” which is what a new President’s first speech before Congress is generally termed.

Part of the drop, of course, can be attributed to the simple fact that the Words of the Messiah are no longer new, nor particularly original. The remaining drop likely stems from the increasing perception, even among low-information voters, that the current President is not a man to be either believed or trusted, except when it comes to new revenue enhancement proposals.

To paper over these unimpressive numbers, at least one enterprising site, Deadline Hollywood, tried to use the network and cable breakout numbers to change the subject and make an alleged Fox News failure the story instead.

Deadline’s first story noted that “Fox News also was the only network to post bigger numbers than the 2013 SOTU – up 28% in viewers and 25% in the demo.”

But a later Deadline story “corrected” the politically unacceptable error of giving credit to Fox for anything by crowing about the brilliant performance of CBS:

“More viewers turned to CBS to hear Obama’s address than any other TV network. CBS’s crowd of 7.57 million viewers beat Fox News Channel (3.471 million) and CNN (2.557 mil) combined.”

Continuing in this vein, Deadline sliced the numbers another way just in case you didn’t catch that initial anti-Fox snark attack:

“CNN was No. 1 among the cable news networks in the all-important news demo – 25-54 year olds — with an average of 1.021 million. CNN easily outstripped Fox News Channel, which logged 834,000 demo viewers. Ditto the 473,000 news demo viewers who’d tuned to MSNBC to see the SOTU…”

Three questions for Deadline:

First, how does MSNBC’s 473,000 number “outstrip” Fox’s 834,000 demo viewers?

Second, why wouldn’t CBS or any other broadcast TV network like ABC or NBC not “beat” the cable-only Fox News network airing of this speech?

Third, isn’t it actually surprising that Fox News had any viewer numbers at all for this SOTU, given that most of the cable channel’s large, steady news viewership would, instinctively, not bother to tune into Obama’s annual and predictable Litany of Lies in the first place?

That apparently didn’t occur to Deadline, which was more intent on pursuing pro-Republican prey. That’s undoubtedly why this report next proceeded to chortle over the President’s infantile SOTU cheap shot, “one in which Obama sucker-punched the GOP, saying contemplatively, ‘I have no more campaigns to run,’ to which some Republicans predictably responded with derisive applause, walking right into his punchline: ‘I know, because I won both of them.’

Har-de-aer-har! What a card, that Barack! But actually, what else could one expect from The One, who has, after all, always been a unifier, not a divider?

Parenthetically, Deadline wondered why neither The Masses nor the media had actually listened to the wonderful things contained in the speech:

(Obama also called for higher taxes on wealthy Americans and new initiatives to boost the middle class, but nobody but the wonks are talking about that today – and not even some of them.)

Maybe this forward-looking brilliance was missed by proles and media elites alike because the chattering classes were busy avoiding reporting the verifiable fact that the wealthy, via still-available tax shelter vehicles, will avoid any and all new wealth taxes that manage to pass. Or the way the President proposed to “help” the middle-class not only by increasing the tax burden on small businesses, but by taxing the outflow of 529 educational savings plans—much as, we’re sure, he’d like to do the same to Roth IRAs, which, of course, would also help the declining middle class.

Bottom line: All demographics continue to tune this President out. With two years to go in his feckless, destructive administration, he has fully achieved zero credibility at last.

Even worse, though, is the fact that he could care less, given his utter contempt for the American electorate. Having endured the singular indignity of having to address the now-Republican controlled Congress, he can now get quietly back to his life’s work of eviscerating American democracy one Executive Order and one golf swing at a time. It’s the Marxist, post-Colonialist way to go.

* Cartoon by Branco. Reproduced with permission via

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Terry Ponick
Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17
  • Steve Davidson

    I don’t wanna rain on anybody’s parade, but 33+ million viewers isn’t a flop by any stretch of the imagination.

    For a more thoughtful viewing, the White House prepares an “enhanced” video of the SOTU that can be watch at your leisure at any time. It shows charts, graphs and statistics as the President speaks. They also publish the full text of the speech. That is more than enough ammunition to nail the President with his own words.

    Politifact did fact-check some of the Presidents SOTU statements, but carefully cherry-picked from the correct ones. His worst rating given was “half true”.

    For all its exaggerations, distortions and downright falsehoods the SOTU should have been better fact checked by Politifact, but wasn’t. Instead, Politifact’s most publicized check was the “bread bag” shoe comment made by Joni Ernst in the short Republican rebuttal.

    It’s true, but they couldn’t bring themselves to admit it. Instead, using a pretty graph, they ridiculed her for being a hick from the middle of nowhere. That clearly shows where their biases are.