In a Vanity Fair piece titled “Hate Sells”, Matt Pressman explains “Why Liberal Magazines Are Suffering Under Obama:”
The George W. Bush years were good for more than just oilfield-services companies and waterboard manufacturers. They were also a boon for liberal political magazines, whose circulation soared on the wings of the Bush hatred that swept much of the country. The paid circulation (subscriptions plus newsstand sales) of The Nation nearly doubled from 2001 to 2005, that of Mother Jones rose by 37 percent, and that of Harper’s Magazine by 7 percent.So how have those magazines fared now that they don’t have W to kick around anymore? And have their ideological opposites on the newsstand enjoyed a boost from the anti-government, tea party-led fervor that has taken off since President Obama’s inauguration? I crunched the numbers from the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) and BPA Worldwide in order to find out.
The year 2009 was a tough one for magazines in general, with circulation down 2.23 percent overall, according to ABC (the decline in advertising revenue was far greater and more detrimental, but that’s another story). The three leading liberal political magazines, however, fared particularly badly. The Nation’s circulation in 2009 was down 7.4 percent from 2008, Mother Jones was down 6.7 percent, and Harper’s was down 5 percent.
Of course, there was another magazine that proudly wore its Bush-bashing politics on its well-tailored sleeves during most of the previous decade, whose numbers Pressman overlooked. I wonder why?
Update: Related thoughts from Mark Finkelstein.