As the number of infections of the disease reached 130,000 and with the death toll having passed 2,350, the president tweeted part of a New York Times article from last week that pointed out as many as 8.5 million people had tuned into Monday’s update – roughly the viewership of the season finale of The Bachelor.
“On Monday, nearly 12.2 million people watched Mr Trump’s briefing on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, according to Nielsen – ‘Monday Night Football’ numbers,” Mr Trump wrote, tweeting the words of journalist Michael Grynbaum.
“On Monday, Fox News alone attracted 6.2 million viewers for the president’s briefing – an astounding number for a 6pm cable broadcast, more akin to the viewership for a popular primetime sitcom.”
The article pointed out – though Mr Trump did not – that the numbers were high and getting higher because of “intense concern about the virus and the housebound status of millions of Americans who are practising social distancing”.
It also pointed out that health experts were concerned about the numbers watching because the president had for a long time played down the seriousness of the virus and likened it to the ‘flu.
Mr Trump also omitted that part from his tweets.
Either way, the president was quickly attacked for being so apparently concerned about his television ratings at a time of national crisis.
“Holy sh*t,” wrote Brian Tyler Cohen, who hosts a political show on YouTube. “He’s still going on about ratings.”
A woman tweeting under the handle IrishryGirl, wrote: “You know what’s rising? The death toll from the virus you called a hoax.”
Keith Boykin, a CNN contributor and author, said: “RESIGN!!!