Trump predicted in 2017 that the media wouldn’t know what to do without him and he was right. Since Trump left the White House, legacy media outlets have been bleeding viewers. However, the most affected by Trump’s departure reflects a sweet irony. According to the Washington Post, CNN has lost 45 perfect of its viewers in the last month alone.
According to The Washington Post:
The most deeply affected network is CNN. After surpassing rivals Fox News and MSNBC in January, the network has lost 45 percent of its prime-time audience in the past five weeks, according to Nielsen Media Research. MSNBC’s audience has dropped 26 percent in the same period. Fox News — the most Trump-friendly of the three networks in its prime-time opinion shows — has essentially regained its leading position by standing still; its ratings have fallen just 6 percent since the first weeks of the year. The cable networks declined to discuss their ratings outlook for this article.
In 2014, the year before Trump announced his candidacy, the three leading cable news networks collectively attracted an average of 2.8 million viewers a night during prime-time hours. By 2019, Trump’s third year in office, that number had nearly doubled to 5.3 million each night.
Trump’s rise was so closely linked to the news companies’ success that some accused the networks of enabling him — endlessly broadcasting his racism and sexism-tinged stump speeches in what amounted to free political advertising. CNN president Jeff Zucker expressed regrets late in the 2016 campaign about his network’s coverage but acknowledged later that it drew viewers. “We’ve seen that, anytime you break away from the Trump story and cover other events in this era, the audience goes away,” he said in 2018.
A handful of leading newspapers can likewise thank Trump, at least in part, for a sharp rise in digital subscriptions over the past five years. The New York Times began his term with 3 million such subscribers and ended it with 7.5 million. The Post tripled its subscriber base to more than 3 million during his administration.
It seems it will be almost any day now that CNN and the legacy media may start begging Trump to return to the front and center of their stories if they stand any chance of saving their plummeting ratings.