Biden speech draws more broadcast viewers than Trump's first TV address

The speech delivered just hours after Biden signed a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill into law

Reuters March 13, 2021
US President Joe Biden speaks about the administration's response to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic at the White House in Washington, US, March 2, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS


US President Joe Biden’s prime-time address on the fight against Covid-19 attracted more broadcast television viewers on Thursday than former President Donald Trump’s first speech to the nation, according to preliminary ratings data.

Roughly 18.2 million people watched Biden’s speech on US broadcast networks ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, Hollywood publications Deadline and The Wrap reported on Friday. The speech was delivered just hours after Biden signed a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill into law, and came on his 50th day in office..

Trump’s first televised address to the country occurred in August 2017 - seven months after he took office - when he spoke about the war in Afghanistan. That event attracted 17.7 million viewers on the four broadcast networks.

Updated figures that include cable TV viewership were expected to be released later on Friday.

Political victory

Earlier, Biden signed the American Rescue Plan, designed to be a financial bridge to hard-hit Americans and a boost to the economy, in the Oval Office with Vice President Kamala Harris at his side. The $1.9 trillion package is a major political victory for the Democratic president fewer than two months into his administration.

Read more: Democrats advance Biden's $1.9 trillion Covid-19 bill in marathon Senate session

Biden and top members of his administration will embark on a victory lap in the coming weeks to laud and explain the legislation, which got final approval from the US House of Representatives on Wednesday.

The package provides $400 billion for $1,400 direct payments to most Americans, $350 billion in aid to state and local governments, an expansion of the child tax credit and increased funding for Covid-19 vaccine distribution. The bill passed without a single vote from Republicans, who complained the price tag was too high.

Coronavirus-related lockdowns and restrictions have cost millions of jobs, and Biden is focused on confronting the economic fallout. Direct deposits from the legislation would come as early as this weekend, the White House said.

Biden will discuss the benefits of the pandemic relief bill during trips to Pennsylvania and Georgia next week.

The lockdown from Covid-19 began under Trump, who played down the crisis in its early stages while repeatedly predicting the virus would soon disappear even as his administration pushed to speed up vaccine development.

The former president and his wife, Melania Trump, did not appear in a public service announcement released on Thursday encouraging Covid-19 vaccinations and featuring all of the other living former US presidents and their spouses.


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