Biden’s poor TV ratings against Trump is exactly what this administration wants

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The 45th president was fairly obsessed with ratings. Given Donald Trump’s experience as a TV reality-show star, that is not terribly surprising. 

Between Feb. 20, 2020, and Dec. 6, 2020, Trump tweeted 44 times about TV ratings, according to Fast Company, or four times more often than about wearing a mask during that same span. 

Trump also quote-tweeted this from The New York Times on Mar. 29, 2020, a time when the country was shut down and when confusion and fear about the novel coronavirus dominated the minds of many Americans: “President Trump is a ratings hit. Since reviving the daily White House briefing Mr. Trump and his coronavirus updates have attracted an average audience of 8.5 million on cable news … .”

Understandably, this created tremendous and deserved backlash against the president at the time, as COVID-19 cases and deaths soared. But this was simply Trump’s reflexive DNA dating back to before he was president, which carried over to after he started calling the White House home, literally on Day 1. “It was the most-watched inauguration in history, period!!” White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters the day after Inauguration Day on Jan. 22, 2017, in a statement from the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room. 

In April 2019, Trump focused on ratings again to attack MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, declaring: “Morning Psycho (Joe), who helped get me elected in 2016 by having me on (free) all the time, has nosedived, too Angry Dumb and Sick. A really bad show with low ratings – and will only get worse.” 

You get the point. Trump saw big ratings as a sign of big love.

Truth was (and still is) that the former “Apprentice” star and real estate mogul was a modern version of the late Howard Cosell, who in a 1970s TV Guide poll was voted as simultaneously the most liked and disliked man in America. That sums up the ratings explosion during the Trump presidency, in which a rising tide (OK, a tsunami) lifted all media boats in terms of ratings and clicks, to heights we may never see again.  

So, it was no surprise to see President Biden’s ratings fall far short of Trump’s in the viewership department after he finally gave an address to a joint session of Congress. The differential was staggering: For Trump’s 2017 address to a Joint session, 48 million people tuned in. For Biden’s address, just 27 million tuned in.

For a guy who received more votes than any other presidential candidate in U.S. history, it would seem on the surface that this would be seen internally as bad news for Team Biden. 

But this seems to be exactly what they want: a stealth presidency. One that is tightly scripted in taking the protagonist off the stage while maintaining all of the power he has as a “Leader of the Free World” whose party also happens to have control of the House and Senate. Despite the promises we heard at the beginning of this administration that Biden would be the most honest, transparent president we’ve seen in modern times, the plan appears to be to avoid being the center of attention. Given how poorly this president does when speaking away from a teleprompter, it is understandable why, although it doesn’t remotely excuse avoiding accountability and scrutiny. 

Overall, during Biden’s first 100 days, MSNBC has seen its viewership drop from an average of 1.3 million viewers in the last week of January to 868,000. CNN has plummeted from 1.2 million viewers on average to just 749,000. On the online and print side, it’s the same deal, with clicks down significantly at most publications.

So, while relatively few Americans are paying attention, Biden and Congress are looking to pass some of the biggest spending packages in U.S. history in a short period of time. 

A $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package was passed earlier this year, for example. The “COVID relief package” was almost anything but that, of course, with less than 10 percent of said package going toward anything COVID related and with pet projects ranging from $1 billion for expanding the Smithsonian to $86 million for assistance to Cambodia, $130 million to Nepal, $135 million to Burma, $453 million to Ukraine and $700 million to Sudan, among many others. 

And then there’s the $2.25 trillion infrastructure package, which has almost nothing to do with, you know, infrastructure when applying the true definition of that word. Overall, less than 6 percent of this “infrastructure” bill will go towards roads and bridges if passed as proposed, while $590 billion will be allocated for ambiguously defined “job training, research and development, and industrial policy.” Another $400 billion will be earmarked for expanding home health care, while $174 billion will target the electric vehicle market and shifting away from gas-powered cars.

And if you think Team Biden is done throwing around trillions of dollars like Monopoly money under the guise of COVID relief and infrastructure, think again. Another $1.8 trillion is being proposed in a separate package called the American Families Plan, which addresses teacher shortages and proposes universal pre-K. 

So how is this paid for? As pollster and former Clinton strategist Mark Penn said on Fox Business recently, all of these plans are like offering someone a lollipop while also telling them someone else is paying for it. I mean, who wouldn’t take that lollipop? But as the late Margaret Thatcher once said, “The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” And all the tax hikes on all the rich people in the world isn’t remotely going to cover $6 trillion in new spending on top of the trillions over budget we already are spending as a country. 

Biden’s TV ratings are low. And it’s just the way his handlers want it. He and his vice president rarely talk to reporters, rarely hold press conferences, rarely tweet anything controversial. From a visibility perspective, it is the polar opposite of the bombastic, unfiltered Trump years. 

While words matter, deeds matter much, much more. And if this stealth presidency gets its way, Biden will do more to transform this country into a far-left utopia than any other Democratic president in history. 

Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist for The Hill.

Tags biden first 100 days covid relief bill Donald Trump Joe Biden Joe Scarborough Kirsten Gillibrand Mark Penn Presidency of Joe Biden Presidency of the United States Presidents of the United States Sean Spicer

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