In his first speech at CPAC following his tumultuous departure from the White House, former President Donald Trump opened with, “Do you miss me yet? Do you miss me?”
The most unexpected answer the former president received came in the form of an article by Edward Luce in the British newspaper “the Financial Times” under the title “The media is really missing Trump.”
The author’s proposition is quite straightforward: US media, as well as global media, were living off Trump, demonizing and painting him in a bad light through exaggeration and sarcasm. This battle, under the pretext of fearing for the democracy threatened by the Trump the Monster, was the reason behind their high ratings in all media formats, print or otherwise. In short, Trump was “the bread and butter” of both traditional media institutions and platforms, such as the Washington Post, and modern ones, like Twitter and Facebook.
Luce stated that the Washington Post had increased its subscribers base threefold during Trump Presidency, before noting that the newspaper’s website suffered a 26 percent decrease in web traffic following the election of the new president. The same goes for the New York Times, which saw a 17 percent decrease in their web traffic. Even CNN did not survive the fall as it lost 45 percent of its audience. However, CNN’s rival on the pro-republican front, Fox News, was less affected due to its continuous criticism of the Biden administration, according to the author.
Luce believes that the negative or “gloomy” news, as he describes them, attract media consumers, making this commercial goal the primary drive behind the enthusiasm of Washington Post and CNN and their all-out war against Trump. The author also cites a few studies that suggest that when the news is bad, business is good for Facebook and Twitter, and vice versa.
He also points to a study that shows the negative bias by the media when covering the Coronavirus pandemic. He summarizes that the media focuses on the bad news of the pandemic while marginalizing any good news on it.
However, it should be noted that the opportunistic commercial reason on which Luce built his hypothesis with regards to the media’s approach during the Trump administration and the way they deal with Coronavirus news is still lacking and incomplete. Luce neglects the ideological, political agenda the print media and digital media adopt, namely Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
The “wars” these platforms waged during Trump’s era were not just a personal feud or an endeavor to increase their subscribers and followers, but rather, they were part of the ideological struggle taken up by the leaders of these institutions and platforms. Struggle and spoils are not contradictory concepts and they can harmoniously exist side by side, not to mention that sometimes, spoils are the main reason behind the struggle.
As said earlier, this is an abnormal situation. The monopoly of the media, the arts, and public opinion must see an end. Whether you like Trump or not, it is his right, according to the western liberal camp, to express himself and the many millions he represented. This is what the former president has started doing recently as he launched a new website under the name of “the 45th President of the United States.” The website serves as a platform for his supporters to express themselves and their support for the former president. Jason Miller, the Senior Adviser to the Trump 2020 re-election campaign, talked about Trump’s intention to also release an app.
To cut a long story short, the media today is tarnished by a reckless political fervor and elusive commercial tendencies, and the world needs more honest media.
This article was originally published in, and translated from, the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat.