December 1, 2020

THE COMING CABLE NEWS CRISIS:

TV pundits and reporters may personally be cheering that President Trump appears likely to be booted from office come January, but the transfer of power is bad news for the networks that employ them. CNN and MSNBC saw record-high ratings over the past four years thanks to President Trump, who supplied just the right kind of drama for their wine-sipping audiences.

What will the networks talk about if they’re not melting down over Trump tossing a roll of paper towels during a hurricane relief effort or serving a personally purchased fast-food spread to championship-winning college athletes? Can anything capture the attention of college-educated whites like Rachel Maddow’s bizarre Trump tax return conspiracies or Jake Tapper keeping tally of how many cabinet officials have resigned or been fired (and then interviewing them once they release the requisite Trump-bashing memoir)?

CNN president Jeff Zucker, who recognized Trump’s TV prowess during the 2016 campaign and offered him a weekly show on his network, admitted to Vanity Fair that cable news loses its audience when anchors cut away from constant Trump coverage.

‘We’ve seen that anytime you break away from the Trump story and cover other events in this era, the audience goes away,’ he said in 2018. ‘So we know that, right now, Donald Trump dominates.’

The biggest challenge for cable news, then, is finding something else for viewers to obsess over. The Biden administration can hardly fill the outrage gap — left-wing audiences will angrily tune out if reporters appear to be attacking the former VP.

QED: Andrea Mitchell Cancelled for Questioning the Biden Team’s Transparency.

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