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. 

Join the discussion


  • 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?

  • 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

  • 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.

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