Commentary

Trump's TV Ratings Make Him The Star Of The COVID-19 Show. Just Ask Him

Donald Trump is touting his big TV ratings during the tragedy of a pandemic — in a tweet.

On March 29, citing a New York Times story:

“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...”

In another tweet: “The Lamestream Media is going CRAZY. ‘Trump is reaching too many people, we must stop him,’  said one lunatic.”

Trump missed the point: The angle of the NYT story was whether TV networks should air those daily COVID-19 press conferences at all, given the risk of the President spreading of false or misleading information.

As of late-night March 31, 4,079 U.S citizens are dead in a pandemic that shows no mercy, according to Johns Hopkins, with 189,618 confirmed cases. Should President Trump be focused on a traditional television metric? One that presumably measures his popularity.

Originally, he said the coronavirus was like the flu; his pal Rush Limbaugh initially said: “The coronavirus is the common cold, folks.” Nope, there are treatments for those illnesses, and a vaccine for the flu. Treatments for COVID-19 are still not ready and a vaccine is still more than a year away — no matter what we do.

Our TV-obsessed President had a dream that come Easter — April 12 — everyone would be in a church praying to their good fortune that they survived. Now, not so much. At best, those kind of prayers won’t be applicable until April 2021. Maybe.

The Trump Administration has to be on TV every day — not only offering hope — but some reassuring data and trends, given the severity of the virus. And that exposure brings high ratings — as well as problems.

That's evident when you watch Trump: This is not what he signed up for. He struggles to keep calm when bombarded with questions. And then the battles start, which can include sharp, defensive responses to reporters who are asking “snarky, nasty” or “threatening” questions, such as what measures is he taking to save lives.

Maybe frightened Americans want to see another Trump. Akin to the end of a movie, when a struggling, hurtful boss learns the lessons of his bad ways, and after a talk with a nervous underling, corrects them. A TV audience wants to see what TV characters usually deliver at the end of a big show: contrition.

1 comment about "Trump's TV Ratings Make Him The Star Of The COVID-19 Show. Just Ask Him".
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  1. PJ Lehrer from NYU, April 3, 2020 at 11:33 a.m.

    Yeah.  He still doesn't get it...
    http://pjlehrer.blogspot.com/2020/03/if-you-live-in-moment-you-dont.html

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