Donald Trump has long been television ratings gold, and, even as president, he has kept his eye squarely on the small screen as a gauge of his popularity, a barometer for his governing agenda and his ability to dominate the airwaves, as The Washington Post's Ashley Parker and Robert Costa reported Monday.
Now, in an interview with the Associated Press released Sunday, Trump set a new standard of hubris even for himself — comparing his ratings prowess to one of the darkest days in U.S. history: Sept. 11, 2001.
“It's the highest for 'Face the Nation' or as I call it, 'Deface the Nation,' " Trump told the AP's Julie Pace, referring to the CBS News Sunday political talk show. “It's the highest for 'Deface the Nation' since the World Trade Center — since the World Trade Center came down.”
Trump said he helped the CBS Sunday morning political talk show score 5.2 million viewers, although it was not clear which appearance he was referring to. Trump's appearance in January 2016 registered 4.6 million viewers, according to TV Newser. His subsequent appearances on “Face the Nation” during the campaign last year got lower ratings, including after a Republican primary debate in February 2016.
As a New York real estate promoter, Trump certainly would have had a unique perspective on the al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on the twin towers. But his choice of using that moment, considered one of the most-filmed events in history at a time of emerging technology, as a measuring stick could strike many as tin-eared and inappropriate.
Trump made the comparison during a long, boastful interview in which he touted his ability to bring viewers. He said he scored 9.2 million viewers on Fox News when he spoke to anchor Chris Wallace last fall.
“It had 9.2 million people,” Trump said. “It's the highest they've ever had.”
At the same time, Trump used the opportunity to denounce, as he has repeatedly, the press corps again as “fake media” that treats him “very unfairly.” Trump, who has elected to skip the White House correspondents' dinner Saturday, has announced that he will hold a campaign rally in Harrisburg, Pa., to mark his 100th day in office on the same evening, in a bit of counterprogramming.
Some of the media, Trump said, “bears no relationship to the truth.”
Still, the president can't quite quit the mainstream press that he has so long been obsessed with. The White House announced that Trump will grant an exclusive interview to “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson to mark his 100th day, set to air this weekend.