A livid President Donald Trump cited “through the roof” ratings on his briefings after being criticized by The Wall Street Journal for having press conferences devoid of substance. Yet these sessions with the media are losing out to some game shows in syndication that are running at the same time, undercutting his argument.

On April 8, The Wall Street Journal ran an editorial titled “Trump’s Wasted Briefings,” claiming “they have become less about defeating the virus and more about the many feuds of Donald J. Trump.”

Clearly, those comments struck a nerve, because President Trump tweeted back. “The Wall Street Journal always “forgets” to mention that the ratings for the White House Press Briefings are “through the roof” (Monday Night Football, Bachelor Finale, according to @nytimes) & is only way for me to escape the Fake News & get my views across. WSJ is Fake News!”

That New York Times article, written by Michael M. Grynbaum on March 25, noted that these briefings are carried on multiple networks (CNN, Fox and MSNBC).

Since then, Trump’s ratings seemed to have cooled, by the President’s own count. But he’s still pleased with having 8.5 million viewers. A March 29 tweet from the President stated “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.’”

He’s right about that, according to Variety, which confirmed the numbers for the season finale of The Bachelor were 8.5 million.

But unfortunately for the former Realty TV star, he’s not the king of television programming. As the Hollywood Reporter notes “The weekday editions of Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy and Family Feud were the three most-watched shows in syndication from March 16-29, and among the most-watched across all of TV. Wheel of Fortune averaged 12.13 million viewers during those weeks, jumping by 2.25 million viewers from the previous two weeks, before widespread stay-at-home mandates took effect. Jeopardy (11.91 million viewers) and Family Feud (10.7 million) grew by 1.77 million and 1.64 million viewers.”

This slump in ratings from 12 million to a more recent average of 8.5 million (so those numbers could be even lower) also seems to have translated into lower approval ratings. According to Politico on April 8, “On Wednesday, six separate pollsters released new surveys. In all six, Trump’s approval rating was below 50 percent, ranging between 40 percent and 45 percent. And each suggested Americans had at best a mixed opinion of his response to the virus, and those with trendlines from weeks earlier in the crisis showed an uptick in the percentage of those critical of Trump’s response.”

Politico added “But his failure to unite the country behind his leadership also reflects Americans’ judgment of his handling of the outbreak thus far: In poll after poll this week, increasing percentages say they think Trump is doing a bad job, and his administration hasn’t done enough to protect citizens from the effects of Covid-19.”

Instead of providing important information that the people need to know, like how most New Yorkers got coronavirus from Europe instead of China, Trump has used the platform to denounce politicians, the media, government agencies and international targets he doesn’t like. And it’s driving down his ratings and poll numbers. That would put him in “Jeopardy” of losing the White House later this year.


Image Credit: The image of the White House Press Briefing with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force and emceed by Donald Trump is and Official White House Photo taken by Tia Dufour (flickr/public domain).

John A. Tures

John A. Tures

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia. He can be reached at [email protected]. His Twitter account is JohnTures2.