Former President Donald Trump once claimed that news outlets would want him to win reelection because without him, “all forms of media will tank.”
Now, without Trump creating near-daily controversies to cover, The Washington Post reports that major mainstream news outlets have seen their audiences decrease in the two months since he left the White House.
According to data from audience tracking firm ComScore, mainstream news outlets saw recording setting traffic in January. But now their traffic is slumping.
As the Post reports, cable and broadcast news networks’ audiences “grew during the pandemic last spring and summer, remained high in the fall as Trump tried to fight his electoral defeat with false claims of voter fraud, and swelled in the first few weeks of 2021 when a mob attacked the Capitol and Trump became the first president in history to be impeached and acquitted twice.”
In January, CNN received the most traffic during its prime time programming, beating out Fox News and MSNBC. The network saw a 125% increase in traffic compared to the previous year that month as it averaged 2.74 million viewers during prime-time programming.
However, the network saw its traffic crater 45% during the prime-time hours over the last five weeks.
Meanwhile, MSNBC saw its viewership drop 26% in the same period.
Fox News faired best out of the news networks, losing 6% of its audience since the beginning of the year.
The Washington Post also noted that the decrease in audiences was not confined to TV. The paper’s number of unique visitors to its website was 26% lower in February than in January, and 7% lower from February 2020.
The New York Times saw a 17% decrease in the same time frame and a 16% decrease from last year.
Throughout his time in office, Trump repeatedly lashed out at news outlets that published coverage critical of him. He often referred to the Times as “failing.” His attacks were seen as responsible for helping to bolster the paper’s readership.
He also claimed in 2017 that “newspapers, television, all forms of media will tank if I’m not there because without me, their ratings are going down the tubes.”
“Without me, The New York Times will indeed be not the failing New York Times, but the failed New York Times. So they basically have to let me win. And eventually, probably six months before the election, they’ll be loving me because they’re saying, ‘Please, please, don’t lose Donald Trump.’ O.K.,” he added.