Inside the Beltway: Dull news: The media misses Donald Trump

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Well, they knew it was coming. The news media has just about run out of the fodder that fueled so much of its political coverage. That fodder, of course, was supplied by former President Donald Trump, who has left the building and is now — presumably — crafting interesting strategies for himself, or the GOP. President Biden is the new reality. Welcome to the Trump-less news cycle.

“Trump’s been unplugged. Now what?” asked The New Yorker.

“The reporters who got famous fighting with Trump are facing a question: What do we do now?” noted The Atlantic.

“Trump is gone. Biden is here. What happens now?” wondered the Poynter Institute, an academic resource and fact-checker for journalists.

Mr. Trump’s upcoming impeachment hearing could offer respite. Some news organizations, however, have already felt the pinch.

CNN, for example, was enjoying handsome ratings covering the final days of the 2020 presidential election, plus shocking violence at the U.S. Capitol, Mr. Biden’s inauguration, Mr. Trump’s impeachment melodrama, and much more.

CNN was drawing as many as 5 million prime-time viewers during those heady January days. And then, suddenly, President Trump was off the political radar.

“CNN prime-time ratings fall back to Earth in first post-Trump Week,” Variety reported Tuesday.

How much was that fall? Viewership dropped by 44% during prime-time, while Fox News “saw its own ratings dip slightly,” the industry publication said.

“While it’s too early to conclude any longer-term direction for news ratings after just one week, the downturn could be interpreted as an indicator of what many industry observers had anticipated: With Biden in the White House, networks that have spent the last four years railing consistently against Trump have lost the main attraction that energized their audience bases, making it difficult to hold onto the elevated viewing levels,” Variety said.

TROUBLED BY TRILLIONS

There isn’t a great deal of snarling outrage regarding the Democrats’ proposed $6.1 trillion budget blueprint — except for a few who realize what’s happening. One of those would be Stephen Moore, an economic adviser to former President Donald Trump and co-founder of the nonprofit Committee to Unleash Prosperity.

“The spending plan that Democrats are ramming through Congress is the most fiscally dangerous budget in the history of the United States,” Mr. Moore says in a statement shared with Inside the Beltway.

“The Pelosi-Biden-Schumer budget increases government spending by more than 20% to $6.1 trillion and borrows just short of $4 trillion. This will send the national debt crashing over the $30 trillion mark and risks a financial meltdown of epic proportions,” Mr. Moore predicts.

And by the way, here’s what the budget blueprint actually looks like: $6,100,000,000,000.

DROP THE AOC FIXATION

Enough already with constant chatter about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the New York Democrat who is also known as “AOC” and appears to prompt excitable chatter among some Republicans.

“Obsessing over AOC only boosts her profile,” cautions Karol Markowicz, a New York Post columnist.

“What will it take for Republicans to stop putting a socialist lawmaker in the spotlight, either by lamely attempting to cooperate with her, or succumbing to the temptation to savage her inane online effusions, or both — and thereby helping boost her profile?” Ms. Markowicz asks.

She points out that Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, has publicly sided with Ms. Ocasio-Cortez twice, with less than desirable results.

The New York lawmaker, however, remains a magnet for media magnification.

“No one should be normalized less than a socialist elected official in the United States. We have to stop pretending it’s cute that we are giving airtime to someone who wants to bring down the American system and replace it with one that has failed every single time it has been tried,” Ms. Markowicz points out.

“We should challenge bad ideas, to be sure. But ignore AOC the rock star. Treat her like any other member of the House of Representatives. Let the leftist media give her the adoring attention,” she advises.

THE HIDDEN PROGRESSIVE FACTOR

Things have gotten a little cooler for the governor of the Golden State. A massive new poll of 10,000 California voters reveals that 36% of them overall would vote to remove Gov. Gavin Newsom from office given the opportunity, while his approval rating has fallen from 60% to 46%. So says a poll conducted by the University of California, Berkeley just one week ago.

Political analysts are still sorting out the dynamics of a potential recall for the governor, given that Democrats far outnumber Republicans in California. There is a wild card, though.

“Republican political consultant Rob Stutzman said one of the greatest political threats to Newsom could come from progressives in the state if they sour on the governor and decide to back one of their own. If they join with Newsom’s Republican critics to oust the governor, the recall movement would get a major boost,” The Times said.

The governor’s dismal approval rating is a factor.

“These polling numbers show that he is not a lock to beat the recall. He’s under 50%,” said Republican strategist Rob Stutzman, a former spokesman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“To me, it’s the market sign of real vulnerability,” Mr. Stutzman told The Times.

POLL DU JOUR

• 64% of U.S. adults favor “stopping family separation” at the U.S.-Mexico border; 40% of Republicans, 64% of independents and 89% of Democrats agree.

• 61% overall favor creating a “pathway to citizenship for young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children;” 40% of Republicans, 58% of independents and 85% of Democrats agree.

• 58% overall favor raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour; 27% of Republicans, 57% of independents and 84% of Democrats agree.

• 45% overall favor halting construction of the southern border wall with Mexico; 12% of Republicans, 43% of independents and 77% of Democrats agree.

• 42% overall favor ending the ban on travelers from Muslim-majority countries; 18% of Republicans, 39% of independents and 67% of Democrats agree.

Source: A Yahoo News/YouGov survey of 1,516 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 20-21

• Kindly follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin.

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