Stephen Colbert Won’t Let Trump Get Away with That Ratings Lie

Once again, Donald Trump is boasting about records he did not break. This time, the president has falsely claimed that his State of the Union viewership—45.6 million—is “the highest number in history.” In fact, his address garnered fewer viewers than Barack Obama’s first State of the Union, and even fewer than actual record holder Bill Clinton, who set the bar at 66.9 million viewers. As far as Stephen Colbert is concerned, “it doesn’t matter how many people watched. But what does matter is that the president needs to lie about it—and then somehow get away with it.” If it’s up to the Late Show host, that last part at least won’t come true.

“This is the new world we live in,” Colbert continued Thursday night. “So let me just say right now, in advance, congratulations to President Trump on winning the Super Bowl. Well played. . . Also, you make a great Black Panther.”

The president did break one record, Colbert admits: his address was the most tweeted-about in State of the Union history. “It’s like regular history, but shorter and not true,” the comedian quipped. “And somehow, more Nazis.”

In another Late Show segment, a fake press secretary made the case that Trump’s was the most-watched State of the Union—if you count all of the viewers. For instance, “Nielsen only counts American viewers, but we’re confident plenty of Russians were tuning in, too,” he said. “Next, pets home alone who step on the remote still count as viewers.” Also legitimate? “Men in trench coats who were counted as one, but are actually three small people stacked on each other’s shoulders.” Also: people possessed by demons; time travelers coming back to warn us about Trump; and aliens who will watch the broadcast in the future.

Get Vanity Fair’s HWD NewsletterSign up for essential industry and award news from Hollywood.Full ScreenPhotos:Women's March 2018 in Photos: Thousands Descend on D.C. as the Government Shuts DownLaura BradleyLaura Bradley is a Hollywood writer for VanityFair.com. She was formerly an editorial assistant at Slate and lives in Brooklyn.

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