As President Trump is permanently banned from Twitter and I am sure Facebook, Instagram or any other woke social media, fund raising or information sharing applications I began to reflect on his war with the media. At the end of 2015 beginning of 2016 a lot of these mainstream media sites were dying. Afterall, they had just spent the better part of the last 8 years acting as satellite branches of the DNC communications department writing puff pieces for the Obama administration. People were not tuning in to watch the press adore President Obama. Then something magical happened for the media, President Trump decided to run for office.
At first, they covered him in a human-interest angle because they could leverage it to make Republicans look like fools, or so they thought. Instead, President Trump began to gain traction because they had underestimated how much the base of the party despised the GOP establishment. Afterall, they were continuing to send Republicans to represent them who would fold like a lawn chair with the slightest pressure. Now a candidate had emerged who didn’t buckle and fought like a Democrat. By the spring of 2016 the media realized that the candidate that they had helped support early on to stick a thumb in the eye of Republicans was not only a viable candidate, but would not bend to their will when they applied pressure, but would demonize them as hard as they did him.
In Trump the media found the villain that they could use to generate clicks, but the more they tried to take him down, the more the Republican base flocked to support him. In the end, the very thing that helped make many of those mainstream media outlets viable again was also the very same thing that helped elect their nemesis. Trump and the mainstream media (of which I include Twitter) formed a bizarre symbiotic relationship where neither can live without the other, but while they both exist, they serve to bring only the worse out in each other. While they have spent the last five years demonizing Trump the ultimately irony is that they have inadvertently tied their fate to Trump.
For a brief period, ok who am I kidding it was literally less than a day, I remember that the NYT had published an opinion piece lamenting that maybe they had been wrong in the way they had covered Trump. While self-reflection is a great thing it does not generate clicks and this moment of clarity was short lived. The media decided that belonging to the resistance was the only way to make up for their mistake. It was after all their institutions that Trump had used to claw his way into power. The way that they decided to rectify this mistake was to simply go all in on being anti-Trump… it also didn’t hurt that it helped drive massive amounts of clicks and viewers to help line their pockets.
Thus, began the longest running smear campaign in human history. Balance and objectivity went out the window with many of these media outlets running negative Trump narratives over 93% of the time. They sold their souls and credibility and had only one objective in mind… Get Trump. The problem was they were simply bad at it. The number of times once credible news institutions raced to dump out the latest “walls are closing in” story only to be debunked in 48 hours was amazing. Prior to Trump when a news organization got something wrong it was big news, since Trump it is almost a weekly occurrence. They knowingly pushed hoaxes, told lies, took things out of context all to sell false hope to the hate riddled addicts that came back every day for their next hit of orange man bad.
Well, they finally got Trump, it only took losing their credibility, ethics, morals, journalistic integrity and the truth to get it done. They sit in the ruins of their profession with their trustworthiness and likeability among Americans at all-time lows. The irony is that by finally beating Trump they have done themselves in as well. The few viewers that they had prior to Trump have long sense gone away to be replaced by and army of supporters who flocked to them because Orange Man Bad. Where do they go when Orange Man Bad is no longer a thing? Many of those viewers I am sure will continue to tune in as the final season plays itself out, but over time will drift off to other things that outrage them. These outlets will try to shift back to writing flowery haikus in defense of Biden, but the viewers that have sustained them can only be captivated by rage. Sure, they will continue to try to turn that rage against Republicans, but in the end, it is only sustainable in the short term as most Americans believe Republicans are just normal people. This strategy worked with the larger-than-life Trump because he gave them almost daily fodder with which to work. These media outlets are on a ventilator, they are right back to where they were in 2016 minus their credibility, ethics, morals, journalistic integrity and truth. A worst position indeed.
Trump did not escape this conflict unscathed. They cut him off at the knees by being able to de-platform him from the current major social media outlets. Sure, he might move to Parler or some other up and coming social media site and thrive, but it will not be with the same influence he wielded with his Twitter account. While President Trump will not be the kingmaker he could have been in 2022 or 2024, he will still have influence over some of the candidates chosen. This is a simple reality of him receiving the most votes of any Republican candidate and a President that grew the party. While I am fairly certain we will not see Trump run again in 2024 (honestly who would do that to themselves for a 3rd time?) I can see his support helping tip the balance in a tight primary race.
Now would be a good time for the media to try to return back to normal, but I believe that is no longer in their toolkit. They have become to addicted to generating rage clicks and dam the truth. As a partisan opposition media, they will wither on the vine because they forgot to adhere to the basic tenants of their profession. I predict over the next year we will see a collapse in influence for these organizations. They will have momentary spikes where they can dust off the Orange Man Bad as someone tries to launch an investigation into Trump, but the high won’t be like their heyday and they will be left looking like Pookie from New Jack City hoping to get one more hit of Orange Man Bad. The media may have finally gotten Trump… but they lost everything to do it.