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For someone who’s obsessed with television ratings and uses them to weigh his own worth, Trump must have been seething over the shrinking TV audience that tuned into this week’s State of the Union Address. Speaking to the nation amidst the final stages of the Senate impeachment trail, Trump attracted nearly 10 million fewer Americans as compared to his 2019 State of the Union speech.

To have your national audience plummet by almost 25 percent represented a major setback for Trump, who of course envisions himself as the Reality TV President. And that’s how he staged the SOTU. “A tear-stained reunion of a military family, a snubbed handshake and an impromptu bestowing of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to a guest star, the radio host Rush Limbaugh,” as the New York Times noted. And a Reality TV President is also how the press has touted him for years, suggesting Trump is a pop culture phenomenon who instantly boosts ratings whenever he appears on television shows, and that Americans just can’t get enough of his supposedly compelling antics.

Read the rest of Eric Boehlert’s post at his new newsletter.