Throughout the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump crisscrossed the country promising to do the impossible: to rescue businesses in the crosshairs of complex economic changes and restore a sense of glory to firms in industries torn asunder by the forces of modern capitalism.
And he did it. Not for miners, though—for the media. And, quite often, for the media companies he criticized the most.
Pay TV is in structural decline, as younger viewers cut the cord or never subscribe in the first place. But the three major cable-news networks have each set viewership records in the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency. Fox News had the best quarter in cable news history. MSNBC grew more than 50 percent in both daytime and primetime. CNN also saw double-digit growth over its sensational 2016 ratings. Feeding off the fumes of Trump’s whirling-dervish presidency, the networks seem to be growing at the expense of practically everything else on television.
Similarly, national newspapers have suffered a decade-long evaporation of advertising. But on Tuesday, The New York Times announced record growth in digital subscriptions, which have more than doubled since early 2016. Subscriptions to other publications, such as The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, the Financial Times, and the New Yorker, have all grown, after years of stagnation or decline. The presence of Trump has not nearly been enough to cancel out the decline of advertising, but fear of the president has provided a tailwind in the storm.