Sep 13, 2018

Trump's historic gift to media

"Fear" by Bob Woodward on a Barnes & Noble shelf. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Aboard Air Force One recently, an aide was showing President Trump detailed data, complete with graphics and fine print. Usually the president prefers top lines and the big picture. This time, he was going deeper. The topic of the commander-in-chief's attention: cable news ratings, with a focus on specific shows that are booming.

The big picture: Cable news is setting records, books are hot again, newspapers are racking up the digital subscriptions and an op-ed (!) is a hot gossip topic — all because of the national obsession with "The Trump Show."

  • Trump and the media, for all his attacks and despite the cultural chasm between them, just can't quit each other.

Throughout the 20 months of the Trump presidency, news executives have been expecting Trump fatigue to eventually set in. Not only is there not a single sign of it, we're experiencing the opposite — a rising Trump fever.

  • Viewers and readers, lovers and haters, are addicted to Trump.

The Trump boom is fueling both old and new media:

  • Not so long after old-school publications fretted about financial survival, digital subscriptions are booming at The New York Times ($99 million in the second quarter, a 20% jump from a year earlier), The Washington Post and The New Yorker — fueled by Trump fascination and extraordinary journalism for historic times.
  • An AP headline after Michael Cohen's plea and Paul Manafort's conviction: "A bad week for Trump means a good week for Rachel Maddow." Typical of the daily ratings entries on TVNewser: MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow was No. 1 on all of cable TV, drawing a solid 3.5 million viewers ... Fox News held steady at No. 1 in total viewers."
  • Simon & Schuster says Bob Woodward's "Fear" sold 750,000 all-format copies (including preorders) on Tuesday — the largest first-day sale for any title in company history. At the Barnes & Noble near Axios HQ, a table full of "Fear" was gone in a day.
  • That follows 2 million in global sales for Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury."
  • The anonymous N.Y. Times op-ed, "I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration," has drawn 14.5 million page views and sparked a week-long whodunit.

Be smart: News organizations know they have a Trump bubble — that whenever the 46th president arrives, they could have an audience crash. But they'll worry about that then. For now, they're adding staff and products, to cover the story of a lifetime and to feed an insatiable appetite for Trump.

Go deeper

Netanyahu says July 1 deadline for West Bank annexation won't change

Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday at a Likud Party faction meeting at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, that his July 1 deadline for starting the process of annexation in the West Bank will not change, according to people in attendance.

Why it matters: The White House and the State Department have stressed over the last few weeks that the deadline set by Netanyahu is "not sacred" to the Trump administration — and that any discussion of annexation needs to be in the context of renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina if capacity reduced

President Trump on stage during the 2016 Republican National Convention in Ohio. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

President Trump threatened in a series of Monday tweets to move this summer's Republican National Convention from Charlotte if North Carolina's Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, doesn't allow the event to be held at full capacity.

The state of play: Mandy Cohen, the state's health and human services secretary, said last week that the GOP should "plan for the worst" as mass gatherings will be a "very big challenge" if the number of coronavirus cases in the state continues to increase, per NPR.

The wreckage of summer

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We usually think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer, with all of the fun and relaxation that goes with it — but this one is just going to remind us of all of the plans that have been ruined by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: If you thought it was stressful to be locked down during the spring, just wait until everyone realizes that all the traditional summer activities we've been looking forward to are largely off-limits this year.