President Joe Biden’s address before a national television audience on Thursday — carried on six broadcast networks and the three biggest cable news channels, with the former delaying their prime-time schedules — attracted a reported audience of some 22 million viewers.
The largest audience shares of that audience tuned in to ABC
according to the trade magazine the Hollywood Reporter, at 3.57 million and 3.46 million.
Fox News, with 3.35 million viewers, nearly kept pace with the ABC and CBS broadcast networks, while MSNBC
ranked No. 2 among the cable news channels, with 2.11 million.
broadcast network and CNN
were neck-and-neck at 1.45 million and 1.4 million viewers, respectively.
The Nielsen ratings service put the total audience at 20.33 million viewers, but that figure excluded the reported 2.13 million who watched the Oval Office address, in which Biden linked U.S. aid to Israel and to Ukraine on the grounds that both are acting in self-defense against a neighbor that seeks nothing less than their utter annihilation, on Univision and Telemundo.
Context: Biden says Israel and Ukraine support is vital for U.S. security, is asking Congress for billions in aid
Also read: Why Biden’s planned Israel visit is calming markets — for now
Figures for CNBC, Fox Business and NewsNation were included in the Nielsen aggregate audience number.
Biden had arrived back in Washington from an Israel visit earlier Thursday, for which he departed just 10 days after the shocking cross-border incursion by Hamas militants. He reported having been told he was the first U.S. president on the ground in Israel during a time of war. He’d been scheduled to travel to Amman, Jordan, to meet in person with Arab regional leaders, but those conversations were canceled amid an initial claim, later widely disputed including by the U.S., that Israel had launched a mass-casualty strike on a Christian hospital in Gaza City.
Biden, in the Thursday address, which ran just under 16 minutes, forcefully reiterated a belief in the U.S. assessment that the incident “was not done by the Israelis.”
The U.S. president said he had pressed his cases to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who leads the most right-wing coalition government in Israel’s 75-year history but has a decades-old cordial relationship with Biden, that humanitarian aid needs to be allowed into Gaza and that Israel, in prosecuting its war against Hamas, must abide by international norms.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, in a Sunday interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation,” signaled agreement with the Democratic president’s argument that Ukraine and Israel are interconnected, even as he conceded that some members of his Senate caucus — and more in the House — have come to feel otherwise.
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