Sorry, Obama: No One Will Watch Tonight

State of the Union speeches just aren't popular anymore
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jan 25, 2011 11:20 AM CST
President Obama announces new government-wide initiatives to support military families, including programs aimed at preventing suicide and eliminating homelessness, Monday, Jan. 24, 2011.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(Newser) – Don’t feel guilty if you’re not planning to watch the State of the Union speech tonight—hardly anyone is, writes David Graham in Newsweek. And even those who do watch won’t remember much about it. “What used to be a must-see for the country is watched by a shrinking audience. The only way to get people to tune to it, it seems, is a fresh face, a juicy scandal, or a war.”

As it stands, “the economy has stabilized, there’s no war looming, and there aren’t salacious scandals in the news.” The numbers don’t look good for viewership, either: The 2000 speech reeled in 22.5 million viewers—down from 41.2 million in 1993, Graham notes. The president shouldn’t expect to leave much of a mark, either. “They’re not defining moments for presidents,” says a historian. It's what happens afterward that can make speeches' key phrases worth remembering.

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