Inside the Beltway: Trump-dependent media feels the pinch

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The news media misses former President Donald Trump. His absence from the White House and policy making has put an end to endless coverage and automatic audiences who clung to every Trump-centric story whether they liked the 45th president or not.

Now comes the big reality check.

“Boring news cycle deals blow to partisan media,” says a new Axios report.

“In the months since former President Donald Trump left office, media companies’ readership numbers are plunging — and publishers that rely on partisan, ideological warfare have taken an especially big hit,” the report advises, suggesting that the fodder for juicy reading, listening and viewing is getting rare with President Biden in the White House.

“Why it matters: Outlets most dependent on controversy to stir up resentments have struggled to find a foothold in the Biden era, according to an Axios analysis of publishers’ readership and engagement trends,” the news organization said.

Media audiences for left- and right-leaning print, online and broadcast sources fell at rates ranging from 16.7% to 43.8% according to the two study periods, which were conducted from August 2020 to January 2021 and February 2021 to May — using data from such industry sources as Comscore and NewsWhip.

The slower political news cycle has put the spotlight on breaking news stories, the report noted.

“Changes to the media landscape could also be at play here. For example, there’s been enormous growth in conservative podcasts over the past year. In particular, an analysis from conservative media expert Howard Polskin finds that younger conservative talk personalities, like Ben Shapiro, Dan Bongino and Steven Crowder are gaining enormous traction, alongside veterans like Bill O’Reilly and Mark Levin,” said the report, written by Axios media reporter Sara Fischer and Neal Rothschild, director of audience and growth for the news organization.

THE LEFT’S ‘PRETEND’ SENSE OF DOOM

Now here’s an intriguing thought: Some politically minded people need “a sense of impending catastrophe in their lives” for one reason or another.

So says Jim Geraghty, a National Review columnist who cites the persistent influence of former President Donald Trump on his political rivals — particularly wealthy progressives who seemed to dwell on his “lurking threat” even when it was absent. It is a “pretend” suggestion of doom.

“Trump gave a lot of progressives a devil figure to rally their ranks against — and they needed that figure,” Mr. Geraghty writes.

“Progressives like to think of themselves as scrappy underdogs, but quite a few of them live very comfortable lives. They realize they have $12-per-pint ice cream in their freezers while noticing more homeless people sleeping on grates not far from their brownstone townhouses, and they feel guilty about that,” Mr. Geraghty writes.

“They need to feel as if they’re at risk, too. They need to feel as if they share in the struggles of the less fortunate. The sense of being part of a noble political resistance to a white nationalist/fascist/insert-other-bad-label-here occupying force gives their lives a sense of consequence and meaning that these individuals otherwise cannot find,” the columnist says.

NOT HAPPY IN TEXAS

President Biden is not winning many hearts and minds in the Lone Star State. A University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll tells all.

“As for immigration and border security, only 27% of Texas voters approve of the job Biden is doing, while 57% disapprove. Republican disapproval runs especially high, with 89% saying they disapprove, including 82% who strongly disapprove. For Democrats, 56% approve of the president’s job at the border but their support is more tepid, as only 21% strongly approve, 35% somewhat approve and nearly one in five disapprove,” the research notes.

In addition, 62% of independent voters disapprove of Mr. Biden’s actions when it comes to immigration and border security, while 14% approve and the rest are undecided.

The survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted June 10-21 and released Tuesday. The Texas Tribune is a non-partisan, nonprofit media organization headquartered in Austin.

PERILS OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE STATE

The Competitive Enterprise Institute will issue on Wednesday its annual report on the size, scope and burden of the federal administrative state — profiling the often unproductive realm ruled by weighty regulations and bureaucracy.

The report is appropriately titled “Ten Thousand Commandments”  and it includes an estimate of the cost of all the busywork which is typically required by regulatory compliance.

In 2020, the aggregate cost of federal regulation was $1.9 trillion — deemed a conservative estimate based on publicly available data from government, academia, and industry and the ‘inherent unknowability of such costs.”

It was written by Wayne Crews, vice president of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Find the report at CEI.org.

FOXIFIED

Fox News Channel has completed the second quarter of 2021 as the most-watched cable network of all, according to Nielsen Media Research. Fox News has remained the top news channel for the last 78 quarters — and No. 1 in the entire basic cable realm for the sixth consecutive quarter.

Fox News delivered 2.2 million primetime viewers, compared to CNN with 914,000 primetime viewers and MSNBC with 1.5 million viewers.  Fox News also claimed five of the top six cable news programs in the last three months — and also broadcast 39 of the top 100 basic cable telecasts in the same period.

POLL DU JOUR

• 89% of U.S. adults believe that the COVID-19 situation in the U.S. is getting “a little or a lot better.”

• 65% think it is best to lead normal lives now “as much as possible.”

• 62% say their lives are “somewhat back to normal, but not completely normal.”

• 15% say their lives are already completely back to normal.

• 46% say their lives will get back to normal.

• 40% say their lives will never get back to normal.

SOURCE: A Gallup poll of 4,843 U.S. adults conducted June 14-20 and released Monday.

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