Sep 30, 2018

A bipartisan obsession: The Trump Show

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A divided nation that usually shrugs at politics — and always shrugs at midterm elections — is suddenly united, passionately and addictively, in binge-watching the Greatest Show in American Politics.

The big picture: Because of The Trump Show, we're more attuned to current events and know more about the news than ever. Happy hour conversations include the 25th Amendment and the Emoluments Clause. News plays in sports bars. Pundits talk casually about FBI 302 forms. And more women and minorities are getting involved in politics, setting up midterm elections that likely will change the complexion of Washington.

The Trump Show has us watching more, running more, voting more:

  • Pew Research Center reported this week that voter enthusiasm is at its highest level during any midterm in more than two decades, based on the percentage of registered voters who say they're more enthusiastic than usual.
  • Midterm primary turnout surged for both parties.
  • Women broke records for the number who filed — and for the number who won primaries — for Senate, for U.S. House and for governor. And a record number of women won primaries for state legislature.
  • More than 20 million people watched Thursday's Kavanaugh hearing on TV, with millions more watching digitally — "an audience size similar to that for a playoff football game or the Academy Awards," AP notes. (5.7 million of those watched on Fox News, the most of any cable station or broadcast network.)
  • Cable news constantly shatters records. 12 million people collectively watched Fox News' Sean Hannity, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow or CNN's Chris Cuomo at 9 p.m. ET after the Kavanaugh hearing, enough to "put a dent in viewership for the fall premieres of broadcast network prime-time shows."

The N.Y. Times' Amy Chozick writes in today's Sunday Review section ("Why Trump Will Win a Second Term") that "TV executives say the only way for the Trump show to get canceled is for ratings to fall off":

TV history shows that the most successful series — “American Idol,” “Lost,” “The West Wing” and, yes, “The Apprentice” — don’t see sharp declines in viewership or talk of cancellation until around Season 6. 
By that logic, Mr. Trump would win re-election in 2020 unless, as many liberal viewers are probably hoping, impeachment and scandal end his presidency prematurely. (In what would no doubt be “The most dramatic finale of a presidency ever!”)

Be smart: Whether it's resistance or defiance, American public life is the most animated it has been in our lifetimes.

Go deeper

6 mins ago - Technology

Twitter: Trump's Minnesota tweet violated rules on violence

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Twitter said Friday morning that a tweet from President Trump in which he threatened shooting in response to civil unrest in Minneapolis violated the company's rules. The company said it was leaving the tweet up in the public interest.

Why it matters: The move exacerbates tensions between Twitter and the president over the company's authority to label or limit his speech as well as the president's authority to dictate rules for a private company.

Updated 14 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Trump threatens to "assume control" of Minneapolis over unrest

Flames from a nearby fire illuminate protesters standing on a barricade in front of the Third Police Precinct in Minneapolis on Thursday. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump threatened via Twitter early Friday to send the national guard to Minneapolis following three days of massive demonstrations and unrest in the city over George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody this week.

Details: "I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right," Trump tweeted after a police station was torched by some protesters.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: Protests over George Floyd's death grip Minneapolis

Protesters cheer as the Third Police Precinct burns behind them on in Minneapolis on Thursday night. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Cheering protesters set a Minneapolis police station on fire Thursday night in the third night of unrest following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in the city, per AP.

The state of play: Minnesota's governor on Thursday activated the state's national guard following violent outbreaks throughout the week, as the nation waits to see if the officers involved will be charged with murder.