Donald Trump lost the 2020 election to Joe Biden, and on Wednesday he lost something that will also make him mad: the TV ratings battle. According to Variety, the new president got better TV ratings than Trump did when he was inaugurated in 2017.
Though Biden didn’t win with quite the “landslide” Trump once claimed the margin to be in the electoral college, it’s enough of a boost to beat the ratings Trump had four years ago and helped CNN make its own network history.
Approximately 39.87 million people watched the half-hour swearing-in ceremony over the nation’s six major TV-news outlets, according to Nielsen, compared with 38.35 million viewers for the 2017 event. The 2021 figure represents an approximately 4% increase over its 2017 predecessor.
CNN’s coverage captured an average of 9.9 million for the pivotal half hour, leading the pack. The AT&T-backed cable-news network said the numbers represented the biggest audience it has captured for an inauguration broadcast in its history.
The Variety report also indicated yet another bad day for Fox News, which lagged behind CNN and other networks in audience on inauguration day. That certainly makes sense given Fox viewers tend to lean right, and therefore were not as eager to watch Biden take the oath of office and replace Trump. But it’s another number that speaks to a notable downward trend for the network that long worked to support Trump.
The weirdness of the Trump presidency started almost immediately in 2017, and it certainly began with his own inauguration. He famously had then-press secretary Sean Spicer insist that Trump drew more people to his inauguration than Obama, to the point that photos were necessary to debunk those “alternate facts.” Trump also didn’t beat Obama in the ratings but, from there, it was four very, very long years.
Trump can, perhaps, take solace in the fact that more people likely attended his inauguration than Biden drew. But that has a lot more to do with the still-ongoing coronavirus pandemic he failed to help control and the coup attempt his followers carried out at the US Capitol he helped incite earlier in the month. Trump has always cared about TV ratings, so this will surely sting. But if he’s upset about it, well, we won’t know until he finds a way to release a statement about it. He’s still, of course, banned from Twitter.