Jun 25, 2019

"Trump slump" hits big media

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Top news executives tell Axios that a real "Trump slump" is hitting digital, cable and more.

Why it matters: The shock factor around President Trump's unplanned announcements, staff departures, taunting tweets and erratic behavior is wearing off, and media companies are scrambling to find their next big moneymaker.

Driving the news: Executives tell Axios that Trump fatigue is very real: Interest in political coverage overall is down, which is spurring investments in other beats, like technology and the global economy.

  • Democrats don't appear to be the lifeline media companies are hoping can fill the gap for diminished Trump interest. Executives say they expect this week’s debate ratings to be nothing like the ratings for the 2016 Trump debates.

Be smart: Part of the problem is that 2020 Democrats don't have a knock-out media star to drive interest in the election. To date, the Democrats' biggest media attraction has been Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who isn't running for president.

  • Other candidates split the spotlight in the crowded Democratic primary field.

By the numbers: Digital demand for Trump-related content (number of article views compared to number of articles written) has dropped 29% between the first 6 months of the Trump presidency and the most recent 6 months, according to data from traffic analytics company Parse.ly.

  • Evidence that Trump's social media star power was also beginning to wear off surfaced last month, when Axios reported that his tweets were receiving less than half the engagement that they got when he first took office.

Similar trends are happening in more traditional media settings:

  • In March, New York Times COO Meredith Kopit Levien told Axios during a panel at SXSW that the paper's subscription "Trump Bump” ended in mid-2018.
  • In December, media research firm MoffettNathanson found that live news network ratings were down "in the -10% to -20% range" for the better part of 2018. Overall, the firm found that ratings around TV news coverage overall began to decline after the 2016 election.
  • Cable TV networks, which still reach a majority of Americans with political news coverage, began pulling back on Trump campaign rallies late last year because they weren't driving ratings, according to Politico.

Our thought bubble: The Trump bump that supported the news industry through difficult economic times is not sustainable, and media companies that were once reliant on politics coverage to get through tough times are going to have to pivot.

Go deeper:

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 855,007 — Total deaths: 42,032 — Total recoveries: 176,714.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 186,265 — Total deaths: 3,810 — Total recoveries: 6,910.
  3. Business updates: Should you pay your rent or mortgage during the coronavirus pandemic? Find out if you are protected under the CARES Act.
  4. Public health updates: More than 400 long-term care facilities across the U.S. report patients with coronavirus — Older adults and people with underlying health conditions are more at risk, new data shows.
  5. Federal government latest: President Trump said the next two weeks would be "very painful" on Tuesday, with projections indicating the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans. The White House and other institutions are observing several models to help prepare for when COVID-19 is expected to peak in the U.S.
  6. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Captain of nuclear aircraft carrier docked in Guam pleaded with the U.S. Navy for more resources after more than 100 members of his crew tested positive.
  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.

White House projects 100,000 to 240,000 U.S. coronavirus deaths

President Trump said at a press briefing on Tuesday that the next two weeks in the U.S. will be "very painful" and that he wants "every American to be prepared for the days that lie ahead," before giving way to Deborah Birx to explain the models informing the White House's new guidance on the coronavirus.

Why it matters: It's a somber new tone from the president that comes after his medical advisers showed him data projecting that the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans — even with strict social distancing guidelines in place.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health

Paying rent in a pandemic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

For many people who've lost jobs or income because of the coronavirus pandemic, tomorrow presents a stressful decision: Do you pay your rent or mortgage?

Why it matters: The new CARES Act that was signed by President Trump on Friday protects homeowners and renters who are suffering from the response to the coronavirus pandemic — but it's not “a one-size-fits-all policy rulebook,” a congressional aide tells Axios.

Go deeperArrow3 hours ago - Health