Obama news conference slips in Nielsen ratings

LOS ANGELES Wed Mar 25, 2009 8:55pm EDT

President Barack Obama listens during a prime time news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, March 24, 2009. REUTERS/Jim Young

President Barack Obama listens during a prime time news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, March 24, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Young

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Taking to the airwaves again to pitch his economic plan, President Barack Obama drew 40 million viewers for his latest news conference, down some 9 million from his first prime-time press encounter last month.

Obama's question-and-answer session with reporters at the White House on Tuesday night capped a weeklong media blitz by the president and was carried by 11 U.S. TV networks, including the Big Four broadcast outlets, ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, according to Nielsen Media Research.

By comparison, the first prime-time news conference of his presidency, on February 9, averaged 49.5 million viewers across eight networks, Nielsen reported.

Both events were dominated by discussion of Obama's plans for dealing with the recession and financial crisis.

Facing hesitation in Congress about elements of his recovery plan, even among some in his own Democratic Party, Obama sought to capitalize on his popularity with a string of media appearances in the past week.

He showed up on the ESPN sports network to talk college basketball, made history as the first sitting president to appear as a guest on "The Tonight Show" and gave an interview on the CBS news program "60 Minutes."

Sunday's "60 Minutes" broadcast averaged 17 million viewers, making it the fourth-most watched TV show of the week behind episodes of "American Idol" and "Dancing with the Stars," Nielsen said.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Peter Cooney)

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