Rush Limbaugh argued on his radio show Tuesday that the reason the college national football championship game earned such high ratings was because of an appearance by President Donald Trump.
“Donald Trump walks on the field at the 40-yard line for the national championship game, national anthem singing along, heart covered by his right hand, and the place erupted in cheers,” the conservative radio host said.
Limbaugh was referring to Monday night’s national football championship between the Universities of Georgia and Alabama, a remarkably close game that went into overtime.
“The drive-by media is saying that there were some boos. I haven’t talked to anybody who heard any boos. Now, there had to be some, of course, I mean the place was filled and the law of averages was such, but the cheers and the support for Trump was overwhelming,” he continued, according to Mediaite.
Limbaugh went on to say that it must have been hard for ESPN staffers — who have been accused of liberal bias in their sports coverage — to watch Trump attend the game, stand for the anthem and sing along.
The NFL has been embroiled in controversy in recent months with numerous players kneeling during the playing of the U.S. national anthem, a move players believe is in solidarity with victims of various injustices, but also an act that many Americans find insulting.
The controversy has resulted in a drop in ratings for the NFL and for ESPN. Many of the sports network’s anchors, meanwhile, have shown sympathy for the anthem protests.
Not only did the national championship game enjoy the attendance of a sitting president, but it also touted a record number of viewers — something Limbaugh says the president deserves credit for.
ESPN’s ratings for other high-profile matches, however, did not receive the same level of viewership, Limbaugh noted.
“And ESPN’s televising this thing and it just had to destroy them to see Trump show up and then to have this kind of reception. And this kind of support that he got. And they find out after the game last night that the college football ratings were through the roof,” he said.
“Meanwhile, ratings for the NFL Wild-Card weekend were down double-digit — percentage-wise — all four games, Saturday and Sunday.”
The talk show host argued that the reason college football’s ratings are doing so well, as compared to the sinking ratings of the NFL and the Golden Globes, has everything to do with the “forgotten people of flyover country” who hold respect for American symbols near and dear to their hearts.
Most Americans have responded poorly to NFL players choosing to kneel during the singing of the national anthem. Many analysts have indicated the drop in ratings are clearly a response to the controversy.
The NFL league’s television viewership fell by about 10 percent overall from the year prior, according to CNN. Ratings for NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” dropped 10 percent for the entire season and the averages of Sunday afternoon games on CBS and Fox fell 11 percent and 9 percent, respectively.
The results have been devastating for ESPN.
Following a continued drop in viewership, ESPN announced late last year that it was laying off 150 employees, 2 percent of their entire workforce, according to The New York Times.
That announcement in November followed massive layoffs that took place earlier in 2017, when the network had let go of around 100 people, including famous on-air personalities.
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