The Daily Bork

June 30, 2005

Spin the numbers

What do you do if you have a president giving a good speech, but publishing the details would seem too much like, you know, giving people some real information? Run with the viewing stats instead...

Bush's Iraq speech draws career-low TV audience
30 June 2005

LOS ANGELES: President George W Bush's latest address to the nation, urging Americans to stand firm in Iraq, drew the smallest TV audience of his tenure, Nielsen Media Research reported on Wednesday.

Live coverage of Bush's half-hour speech on Tuesday night averaged 23 million viewers combined on four major US broadcast networks and three leading cable news channels, Nielsen said.

Designed largely to bolster sagging public support for the persistently bloody conflict in Iraq, the speech fell 8.6 million viewers shy of Bush's previous low as president, his August 9, 2001 address on stem cell research, which was carried on six networks.

Even Bush's last prime-time address, his April 28 speech on Social Security overhaul, drew more viewers: 32.7 million.

Bush garnered the biggest US TV audience of his presidency - 82 million viewers on nine networks - when he addressed a joint session of Congress nine days after the September 11, 2001, attacks on America.

By comparison, his May 1, 2003, speech from the deck of an aircraft carrier declaring an end to major combat operations in Iraq averaged 48.4 million viewers.

OK, so what? Viewing numbers for a president's speech, during his second term, are hardly indicative of anything.

I know that you desperately want to make it seem that because "only" 23 million people watched it live that it somehow makes the content less meaningful, but that can only hold if everyone knew exactly what he was going to say beforehand. In which case noone would have watched it. So really, what the hell is this about?



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