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No more ‘Trump bump’? Media ratings slip as Orange Man Bad fatigue sets in

Mainstream US media reportedly admit that flogging outrage about President Donald Trump doesn’t pay like it used to, but spin this as Trump’s fault and not their own. But will the media change their tune?

The term “Trump bump” has been used since the 2016 election to describe the rise in subscriptions and ratings for media outlets that have made it their mission to obsess about the White House’s current resident, generating an ever-escalating spiral of outrage, clicks and revenue.

At some point in the past year, however, that approach seemed to stop working, and news executives are now talking about a “Trump slump,” according to Axios.

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The New York Times, for example, has boasted that their subscriptions soared after Trump criticized them as fake news. Yet their chief operating officer Meredith Kopit Levien admitted to Axios in March that this boom was pretty much over by mid-2018.

A recent analysis of digital traffic by Parse.ly shows a nearly 30 percent drop in demand for Trump-related content over the past six months. It would be tempting to think this might have something to do with the media’s eagerness to give airtime to anyone willing to bash Trump – such as loudmouth lawyer Michael Avenatti – or the tireless insistence on the ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy theory, even after special counsel Robert Mueller concluded his probe empty-handed.

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To hear Axios tell it, however, this is actually Trump’s fault: The “shock factor” of his presidency has worn off, so the surprise announcements and staff departures aren’t as attention-grabbing as they once were. The president’s tweets are getting “less than half the engagement” now than when he first took office, they note.

Yet the story also reveals that interest in politics is down across the board. If it was just Trump, the attention would shift to Democrats. Except that none of the two dozen candidates hoping to challenge him in 2020 amount to a “knock-out media star” that can grab attention like Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is not running for president and is too busy accusing Trump of being the Second Coming of Hitler, anyway.

“The Trump bump that supported the news industry through difficult economic times is not sustainable, and media companies that were once reliant on politics coverage to get through tough times are going to have to pivot,” the Beltway-insider publication warns.

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The media’s single-minded obsession with Trump has increasingly alienated them from the American public, prompting the mocking observation that there are only so many ways they can say “Orange Man Bad.”

Yet the conventional wisdom has been that such behavior, while not good for the country, is at least good for business. If the Axios analysis is to be believed, that’s not true either – and hasn’t been for a while. 

Rather than showing some awareness of this, cable news channels like CNN and MSNBC continue with their same old Trump coverage, while online news outlets that turned into “woke clickbait mills” would rather clamor for different opinions to be deplatformed than make the effort to change their own.

Nebojsa Malic, RT

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