Friday, February 10, 2023

State of the Union: Nobody Watched

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Tuesday's State of the Union address sure has gotten attention for the ways in which some Republican members reacted to President Joe Biden's lies, but among the chatter, it's worth wondering if people actually tuned in for the address? 

Not really. But everyone has an opinion. An opinion that was apparently formed by someone else or some other source.

Be informed, not misled.

As it turns out, given that just 27.3 million people watched President Joe Biden double down on the most secular, destructive, so-called "progressive" ideologies in American history, most Americans have drawn their opinion of the President's State of the Union address from someone other than their own observation.

According to data from Nielsen across 16 networks, only 27.3 million people bothered to watch.

That figure is the lowest audience for a SOTU in at least 30 years, according to Nielsen records.

Biden’s 2021 speech to a joint session of Congress drew 26.9 million, but that event, coming just a couple months into his presidency, was not an official State of the Union speech.

Last year, 38.2 million watched across 16 networks.

That's a decline of 29%.

Fox News topped coverage with an average of 4.69 million viewers, followed by ABC with 4.4 million, NBC with 3.8 million, CBS with 3.64 million, MSNBC with 3.6 million, CNN with 2.4 million, and Fox Broadcasting with 1.66 million.

The Hill mentioned in their headline that the ratings took "a nosedive."

They also said this: "The number of total viewers is down significantly from the 38 million who watched Biden’s speech last year and is almost half the 45.6 million who watched former President Trump’s first address in 2018."

Nielsen: State of Union TV Ratings. 

President Trump:

  • 2017 — 48 Million 
  • 2018 — 45.6 Million 
  • 2019 — 46.8 Million 
  • 2020 — 37.2 Million 

President Biden:

  • 2022 - 38 Million 
  • 2023 - 27.3 Million (the lowest audience in 30 years according to Nielsen. 

And there is this: Biden is at a 38 percent "very positive" average, while President Barack Obama had a 50 percent average in that "very positive" category. President George W. Bush had a 53 percent average, and Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump had a 54 percent average. 

Trump and Biden were virtually tied in having the highest average of those Americans who said they had a "very negative" view, at 12 percent and 11 percent, respectively. 

Only 27.3 million people bothered to watch, out of a population of  336,046,823 people according to Worldometer as of February 9, 2023.

What does this mean?

Certainly, it means that the general public wasn't nearly as interested in what the president had to say as they have been in previous presidents in previous years.

Some thoughts on what this reflects.

  • People may be more interested in being informed by someone else, than by their own experience.
  • People who disagree with the president's worldview feel helpless. "What can I do about it?"
  • People feel the culture is so bad they feel hopeless. "No one can turn it around--too far gone." 
  • People feel it doesn't matter what our leaders say, because they lie.
  • People feel their vote doesn't count due to corruption in the election process.

Historian Jon Meacham wrote a cover article for Time Magazine on October 12, 2022, titled: "Lincoln Saved American Democracy: We Can Too."

Meacham put the moment in historical perspective:

At noon on Monday, March 4, 1861—a day that observers noted had dawned “cloudy and raw” but turned bright and warm—Abraham Lincoln emerged from the 14th Street NW door of Willard’s Hotel, accompanied by President James Buchanan. The two men rode together in an open carriage up Pennsylvania Avenue, bound for the covered platform that had been erected on the East Front for the presidential Inauguration.

Double files of cavalrymen escorted the procession to the Capitol. Cross streets had been closed to secure the route in the event of attack. Sharpshooters were stationed on rooftops along the avenue, “with orders,” an officer recalled, “to watch the windows on the opposite side, and to fire upon them in case any attempt should be made to fire from those windows on the presidential carriage.”

An hour later, hatless and adjusting his eyeglasses, Abraham Lincoln, his Inaugural Address in hand, stood and gazed out across a large audience. Federal artillery was deployed on a nearby hilltop. “Plainly, the central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy,” the new President said. “Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better, or equal hope, in the world? In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict, without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to ‘preserve, protect and defend’ it.”

"Hated and hailed, excoriated and revered, Abraham Lincoln served as President of the United States in an existential hour," Meacham says. 

A President who led a divided country in which an implacable minority gave no quarter in a clash over power, race, identity, money, and faith has much to teach us in our own 21st century moment of profound polarization, passionate disagreement, and differing understandings of reality. 

What can Lincoln teach us?

Meacham writes, "Lincoln kept the American experiment in self-­government alive when it seemed lost. He did not do so alone. Ordinary people, Black and white, sacrificed to preserve the Union.  But Lincoln was instrumental, and his ultimate vision of the nation—that the country should be free of slavery—was informed by a moral understanding of life."

Lincoln said in September 1862 speaking of Meditation on the Divine will of God: "The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong."

On September 7, 1864 speaking in reply to Loyal Colored People of Baltimore upon Presentation of a Bible, he said, "All the good the Saviour gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man's welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found portrayed in it."

We must continue to see the current events in the culture through the eyes of God's Word, otherwise, we will be deceived, misinformed, and misled. And we will grow weary in well doing.

America's salvation begins now, with you...and me, and it begins on our knees:

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land"  (II Chronicles 7:14).

Be Informed. Be Discerning. Be Vigilant. Be Engaged. Be Prayerful.