There’s an undeniable aspect of the media’s war with President Trump that sometimes gets overlooked. Yes, the liberal bias is part of it, but the media has always been biased against conservatives and Republicans. And yes, the protection of the “establishment” is part of it, but that’s probably the smallest part of the puzzle. What was talked about quite a bit during the Republican primaries, but not as much anymore, is that plain-old revenue is probably the biggest thing driving this feeding frenzy. Outlets from New York to Washington are fretting daily about the First Amendment, but make no mistake about it, they are wiping their tears with stacks of cash.
For as much as he loves to call them the “failing” New York Times, the truth of the matter is that Donald Trump has handed the Gray Lady a lifeline at its lowest point. And – this may be part of Trump’s genius, actually – by using that particular attack, he’s compelling the editors to admit that Trump is the reason they’re doing so well these days.
“We’re not failing at all,” NY Times executive editor Dean Baquet told CNN. “Our digital subscriptions are going through the roof. Even print subscriptions are up. We’re a profitable company.”
The host asked him if Trump was actually beneficial to their bottom line.
“Trump is the best thing to happen to the Times’ subscription strategy – yes,” Baquet admitted. “Every time he tweets, it drives subscriptions wildly.”
Now, Baquet is trying to make it sound like there are all of these deeply-concerned Americans who are patriotically standing up to the Trump administration by subscribing to his paper. Maybe that’s going on to some small degree, but that’s not what’s actually responsible for the media’s profitable renaissance. People want to see the drama! People want to read about Donald Trump! The Times may have this image of themselves as the defenders of democracy, but they are merely playing the role expected of them by both Trump’s critics and his supporters. They are the foil, and they don’t even seem to realize that they’re feeding into it.
If their primary concern was the First Amendment, they would have exercised their press freedoms during the Obama administration. They care about supporting Democrats and they care about raking in the money, and anything else they might care about runs far behind those two concerns. Trump has given them a license to accomplish both goals simultaneously. So next time you feel a tingle of sympathy for the press, just remember: They’re loving every minute of this.