Is the media doomed without Trump?

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That old saying about being careful what you wish for might apply to corporate media pundits and the organizations they work for as the country heads into the Christmas gift-giving holiday.

For the liberal media as things stand now, was Election 2020 equivalent to a Pyrrhic victory, and could President Donald Trump have the last laugh? The consensus seems to be that Trump is the media’s meal ticket, but the buffet table is about to go into lockdown.

For the last four years, and perhaps even before, Donald Trump has functioned as media critic-in-chief. Plus, the president has long predicted that market share of his relentless media foes, whom he labeled as purveyors of fake news, will eventually crash when he leaves office either in January 2021 (or January 2025 if he is successful in challenging the election results given the allegations of rampant irregularities).

Almost exactly three years ago, in anticipating a second term, President Trump insisted that “Another reason that I’m going to win another four years is because newspapers, television, all forms of media will tank if I’m not there because without me, their ratings are going down the tubes. Without me, The New York Times will indeed be not the failing New York Times, but the failed New York Times.”

More recently, in October 2020, a cable news host supposedly told the liberal Vanity Fair that “We in the news media have thought for years that this gravy train is coming to an end. Donald Trump brought us better ratings than we ever thought we’d have by this time in 2020’… adding that the president ‘has given many of us extended relevance, or new relevance.'”

Here, Trump reacts to the viewership of the first presidential debate against Biden:

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1311414741907116032

Similarly, writing in the New York Post last week in a perceptive column headlined, “News media zombies will have nothing to feed on after Trump presidency,” National Review columnist Kyle Smith implied that Trump’s departure from elective office is the equivalent to a lump of coal in the media’s Christmas stocking.

In starting off with what he described as some free advice for the president, Smith claimed, in part, that Trump can displace the Times, The Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, and other perpetually-outraged, virtue-signaling “news” organizations merely if he stops talking (and presumably tweeting, too).

“Since approximately June 16 of 2015, all of these news outlets’ business models have been built around the same strategy: Turning your words into their profits. The Times tripled — tripled! — its online subscriber rolls in what’s supposed to be a dying era for newspapering…” Smith wrote.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1282641318460653568

The ideologically hamstrung media — which Instapundit‘s Glenn Reynolds has deemed Democrat operatives with bylines — can’t rely on Biden for content and protect him at the same time, Smith continued.

“And if Trump, as a private citizen, should stop providing the media with 24/7 OMG moments, what then? There is no plan B. Covering Biden scandals won’t happen, unless you mean covering them up. Yet the media can hardly portray Biden the way they did Barack Obama, as a bold, visionary, inspiring, energetic pathbreaker. Biden can’t get through a sentence without a teleprompter and sometimes, not even then.

“On the off chance Biden makes it to 2024 without lapsing into a vegetative state, in which case praise of Kamala Harris’ godlike virtues will turn every media outlet into the equivalent of the Pyongyang Kim-Tribune, the media can’t report anything that makes Biden look bad, which means they can’t report anything Biden does…

“Once Trump leaves the White House, the media’s only hope is this: Attract viewers by pretending he is still the most important man on earth…” Smith wrote.

Even during the Trump era, CNN and MNSBC regularly finished far behind Fox News in the fragmented cable ratings universe while promoting the alleged scandal or conspiracy theory du jour. Left-wing websites have also nonetheless been struggling, even while feeding their woke readership lots of click bait. The president has also expressed disillusionment with still-ratings-dominant FNC outside of its prime-time programming.

With credibility seemingly an afterthought, it remains to be seen if mainstream media organizations which have gone all-in with single-minded, anti-Trump fervor can, as a practical matter, maintain business viability once the president relocates from the White House to Mar-a-Lago.

Robert Jonathan

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