Updated Oct 13, 2018

The Trump-fueled political media frenzy is just getting started

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

You think the insane flow of politics in your newsfeed, on your TV and lighting up your iPhone will slow when the Trump Show ends?

Think again: Media companies are doubling down on even more politics to generate even higher ratings and more clicks, as audiences seems to crave all politics, all the time. This is your life on politics.

Over the past two years, media companies have enjoyed high ratings and engagement from Trump coverage, and for the networks, at a relatively low cost.

  • Why it matters: Now that a precedent has been set around these high returns, it's unlikely news outlets will cut back — meaning that the barrage of political content being created and absorbed during the Trump presidency will likely outlive this administration.

By the numbers:

  • Politics is the #1 most read category for thousands of member websites within the database of leading traffic analytics company Parse.ly over the past 90 days.
  • Cable news networks have seen record ratings, even higher in select cases than their broadcast counterparts during major events.
  • Fox News scored its highest Saturday primetime viewership since the 2003 Iraq War during Saturday's Kavanaugh confirmation.
  • MSNBC has also surged: "It was in the top 25-30 in terms of Nielsen ratings for total audience. [E]ver since the advent of Trump — it's now become the top two or three basic cable network in terms of total audience," TV Newser editor A.J. Katz tells Axios.

Between the lines: The president's ability to attach himself to so many broad topics online, (mostly by tweeting so much), has pushed many apolitical topics, from sports and finance, to become political.

  • National newspapers and major networks are already staffing up for 2020 with some of their biggest field teams yet. The Washington Post is looking for six reporters and an editor to expand its coverage of the 2020 presidential election, it will announce today. It's the paper's biggest presidential coverage team ever.
  • The Atlantic, L.A. Times and others are all staffing up.
  • Politico, which didn't exist a dozen years ago, has six White House reporters alone — and is hiring.

Even children's books have fallen to the political drama in the Trump era.

  • Stephen Colbert's children’s book that he made out of Trump’s post-Hurricane Florence comments has been sitting in the top ten on Amazon since it was announced. It’s currently #1.
  • John Oliver's book about Mike Pence's rabbit, "A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo," has had consistent sales since release, and is still in the top 50 children's books ranking on Amazon.

The bottom line: We are living in an era of unprecedented political drama. And data shows that Americans are craving more of it. 

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 932,605 — Total deaths: 46,809 — Total recoveries: 193,177Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 213,372 — Total deaths: 4,757 — Total recoveries: 8,474Map.
  3. Business updates: Very small businesses are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus job crisis.
  4. World update: Spain’s confirmed cases surpassed 100,000, and the nation saw its biggest daily death toll so far. More than 500 people were reported dead within the last 24 hours in the U.K., per Johns Hopkins.
  5. State updates: Florida and Pennsylvania are the latest states to issue stay-at-home orders — Michigan has more than 9,000 confirmed cases, an increase of 1,200 and 78 new deaths in 24 hours.
  6. Stock market updates: Stocks closed more than 4% lower on Wednesday, continuing a volatile stretch for the stock market amid the coronavirus outbreak.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

World coronavirus updates: Spain's health care system overloaded

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

Two planes with protective equipment arrived to restock Spain’s overloaded public health system on Wednesday as confirmed cases surpassed 100,000 and the nation saw its biggest death toll so far, Reuters reports.

The big picture: COVID-19 cases surged past 900,000 and the global death toll surpassed 45,000 early Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data. Italy has reported more than 12,000 deaths.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

FBI sees record number of gun background checks amid coronavirus

Guns on display at a store in Manassas, Va. Photo: Yasin Ozturk / Anadolu Agency via Getty

The FBI processed a record 3.7 million gun background checks in March — more than any month previously reported, according to the agency's latest data.

Driving the news: The spike's timing suggests it may be driven at least in part by the coronavirus.