Without Trump, Audiences Shrink

After setting records, fewer are watching and reading news lately
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 23, 2021 4:21 PM CDT
Ratings Support Trump's Prediction
President Trump speaks to CNN journalist Jim Acosta during a news conference in 2018.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Cable news networks are starting to feel the absence of Trump drama. Ratings climbed for President Trump's second impeachment trial, but they've dropped dramatically since then, Variety reports. CNN has been hit hardest, with the prime-time shows of Don Lemon and Anderson Cooper down 32% in the last three months and Chris Cuomo's show just a few percentage points better. The declines at MSNBC were about half of CNN's, and Fox News ratings fell significantly but much less than the other networks' did. Although Fox has suffered least in the new administration, its primetime host who dropped the most—11.9%—was Sean Hannity, who built his program around his connection to Trump. Tucker Carlson fared best, with a 4.8% decline.

The shrinkage isn't limited to cable TV. "Newspapers, television, all forms of media will tank if I'm not there," Trump said in 2017, and there's evidence of a broad drop, per the Washington Post. Traffic to the top news websites took a nosedive last month after setting record highs in January. The Post had a drop in unique visitors of 26% in February, which was 7% below February 2020. It's not just that audiences are bored now, it's that they had been so engaged, especially since the start of the pandemic. The New York Times had 3 million digital subscribers when Trump took office, for example, and 7.5 million when he left. Normal is returning, per Hot Air. That probably will mean Fox at No. 1, then MSNBC comfortably ahead of CNN until breaking news brings viewers back. (Read more TV ratings stories.)

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