by UnHerd
Wednesday, 30
June 2021
Chart
17:00

Why journalists miss Donald Trump

The 45th President made for great ratings - especially on the Right
by UnHerd
Changes in monthly traffic in the months before and after Trump left office. Credit: Axios

Do you miss Donald Trump? Apart from his diehard supporters, there’s not many who’d admit to it.

Except that in newsrooms across America and beyond, there are those who are nursing serious nostalgia. That’s not so much because they have hidden sympathies for the 45th President, but because he was amazing for traffic.

In journalistic parlance, traffic (or ‘traf’) is nothing to do with transport policy, but rather, it refers to the level of readership, viewership and online clicks. And there’s no denying that Donald Trump was great for driving up the consumption of news.

Since he’s been gone, there’s been a widespread slump. The figures are presented in a piece for Axios by Neal Rothschild and Sara Fischer. 

They divide up the various American news outlets into five ideological categories: Far Left, Left-leaning, Mainstream, Right-leaning and Far Right. Comparing the final few months of the Trump presidency with the first few months of Biden presidency they found a 27.3% drop in traffic for Far Left news outlets. Among Left-leaning and Mainstream outlets, the drop was smaller — 16.7% and 18.3%.

One might expect this sort of pattern. There’s nothing like having a hated government in power to wind-up its most fervent opponents. That’s especially true when the leader of that administration goes out of his way to provoke the enemy. And so when there’s a change of government, there’s a release of tension on the winning side — and it’s time for the new losers to get all fired-up instead. 

Except that this time is different. The slump in news engagement on the Left and Centre is even more pronounced on the Right. According to the same set of figures, there’s been a 26.9% fall-off in traffic for the Right-leaning outlets and a precipitous fall of 43.8% for the Far Right category. 

This is further confirmation that Trump was no ordinary President. He was the universal wind-up merchant, capable of provoking his most fervent supporters as well as his bitterest enemies. And no wonder. He never stopped presenting himself as an insurgent, even when he was in power.

What he forgot is that not everyone in America is a news junky or a political obsessive. And that includes the millions of ordinary voters who elected him in 2016. 

What they voted for was a President who would deliver change. But what they got was a shock jock in the Oval Office. And that, more than anything, explains why he’s gone. 

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J Bryant
J Bryant
11 months ago

What they voted for was a President who would deliver change. But what they got was a shock jock in the Oval Office. And that, more than anything, explains why he’s gone.
I respectfully disagree. Trump was a shock jock, twitter addict and sometimes a windbag. His behavior did wear out some of his supporters over time, and that’s one reason he lost the 2020 election.
The main reason, however, is the concerted campaign by the mainstream media and many large US corporations, notably the tech companies, to heavily edit the narrative in favor of the democrats. There was a conspiracy against him but it wasn’t hidden and it wasn’t from the ‘deep state’. It was a blatant show of power by Google etc.
I also think it’s inaccurate to suggest Trump didn’t deliver change. He didn’t deliver as much change as he wanted, partly because of his own political ineptitude. But he tried to shake up large swathes of the administrative state, roll back cancel culture at universities, tackle China head on, give parents more control over the syllabus being taught to their children, etc. He was heavily resisted at every step by those with too much invested in the status quo to risk change.
He was a very flawed man. In some ways he really was a jerk. But he was someone the US needed at a particular moment in time. I hope the republicans produce a presidential candidate who has the same fire in his belly as Trump but with the political skills to carry through with his agenda.

David Simpson
David Simpson
11 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

and he “lost” the election with the largest number of votes cast for any presidential canddiate, apart, sadly, from the one who “won” the election. He definitely engaged people, of whatever stripe.

Rob Britton
Rob Britton
11 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Trump actually did something which was quite a novelty in US politics; he kept his promises – most of them.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
11 months ago

Trump was and remains amazing. Given the crazy conspiracies that the Democrats conjured (‘Russia, Russia, Russia’ the most insidious) and the support of the obsequious Main Stream Media which published false and inflammatory news day after day, Trump managed to invigorate the economy so much so that black and Hispanic earnings had risen for the first time in decades. The border was as secure as could be. The country began to question age old deals like NATO, the (impotent) Paris Climate Accord, Trade with China – that needed rethinking and challenging. Moving the Israeli capitol to Jerusalem was a long sought promise met, and on top of that came the Abraham Accords, an agreement which has pushed discussions in the MidEast forward. Not to mention, he eliminated Critical Race Theory – a new sort of anti-white racism – in the federal government only for Joe Biden to declare we are in fact a racist nation…against the white US population. And this is just a partial list of Trumpian wonderfuness. Yes, Trump supporters are missing him dearly.

Last edited 11 months ago by Cathy Carron
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
11 months ago

I rarely even wear my MAGA hat now days, the whole – having the election stolen by the Dems, and seeing the weaselly sock puppet in Trump’s place – it is just too depressing…..sigh

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
11 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

p.s.

Marjorie Taylor Greene is now my hero, and I hope DeSantis runs, and I think Trump was great, the only flaw was his vast deficit spending, but the Democrats will Kill USA and the West is they are not ousted in 2022, and 2024. I feel the West is on a knife edge, and only a Republican win will save it from the abyss.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
11 months ago

Which news channels are ‘mainstream’ in this diagram? I have read recently that CNN viewership has dropped dramatically and I can attest to the fact that CNN international is left leaning (and also fake news!). And where is MSNBC?

George Glashan
George Glashan
11 months ago

yeah i’d say its pretty important to know which organisations are in which category. I’d imagine the genuine far left and right don’t communicate on sites readily available to journalists so how have they counted any of that traffic

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
11 months ago

The linked Axios piece gives some clues to “mainstream”: New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Reuters .
They describe Newsmax and The Federalist as “far-right” but don’t give any examples of “far-left”. The only mention really is the cuddly-sounding “lefty” appellation for Mother Jones and Raw Story.

Last edited 11 months ago by Brendan O'Leary
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
11 months ago

The Democrats are the Party of the Far Left, and all the American MSM excepting a very few, are really far Left like the Guardian and BBC.
Biden wants 6 Trillion in more give aways, and all are to pay for it by that stealth tax of inflation!
Actually there may not be real inflation anymore as tech is so deflationary with automation and software, so these trillions are printed and pumped out in monetary and fiscal stimulus to stop deflation – which is very weird. Inflation has always been the tax used to fund re-distributional spending, now it may mostly be stopping deflation, as it means Zero interest and no real growth, so assets are wasted away ‘In Real Terms’.

It is a new world of vudu economics, where MMT is to stop deflation and inflation may be a thing of the past…. which is bad as I put my money in things which do well in inflation, and bad in deflation….Or inflation may come, but I am beginning to believe the popular experts who say fat times will go on for ever and the New World Order of owning nothing but being happy is how it works, UBI for everyone.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
11 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Asset inflation has reached stellar heights and in the past that has meant a stellar fall when no more ‘bigger fools’ can be found. But corporate cash except for a few is not being invested in productivity. That also spells trouble. As long as the printing press remains open and interest rates stay low all will be fine. A slight hike in interest rates will strike the budget hard. Then the cards begin to fall. It will be painful for some politicians.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
11 months ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

Not really – it all leads to $ devaluation in the end, but everyone else is also up to it. Then loss of reserve currency maybe, and then poverty which can not just be funded by welfare as it could not be afforded, that is the risk.
At the Prom America is the Pig with the best dress and lipstick on – China, EU, UK, Singapore, India, Brazil pigs all look a bit cheap and hastily made up…
And that is why USA can print so destructively, we are still the best looking pig in the party.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
11 months ago

New York Times is pretty far left and has become a rag of rubbish. I think this Axios piece and thus Unherd’s piece is a load of unverified nonsense.

Last edited 11 months ago by Lesley van Reenen
David Simpson
David Simpson
11 months ago

What, truly, did Trump actually do wrong? He said some silly things, but he actually did (or did not do) some truly wonderful things – like start no more wars, to name one.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
11 months ago

The Fox ratings are down, but not as much as their competition. The ‘remove’ Trump crowd achieved their goal and no longer need the constant barrage of anti-Trump blather. Of course, that continues but nobody cares. Meanwhile the right can now take on their whipping boy whilst awaiting 2022.

Su Mac
Su Mac
11 months ago

The effect on the right of watching the awful lies, dissonance and gaslighting of election fraud issues is disillusionment, disengagement and a “I’ll never vote again, we can’t win” sentiment. Why wind yourself up again watching another Sidney Powell pledge or the endless torture of audits in Georgia if you believe the truth will not be allowed out. I would suggest it is a hopeless disengagement from the public political compact that is driving down these number not dissapointment with Trump. Otherwise people would have faded away during his presidency surely? Bit weak that article…

Callum Innes
Callum Innes
11 months ago

‘Especially on the right’ when the real data suggests left wing channels have fallen even more? Absolute joke