It’s not just the J6 hearings, people have stopped paying attention.
The level of news consumption in 2021 took a nosedive following historic highs in 2020. Despite a slew of major stories, readers have retrenched further in 2022.
The war in Ukraine, a series of deadly mass shootings, the Jan. 6 hearings and the Supreme Court’s revocation of abortion rights haven’t been able to capture the same level of attention spurred by the onset of the pandemic and the 2020 election.
Engagement with news content across all platforms declined significantly in the first half of 2022.
Axios assumes that the public is exhausted. Fatigue is probably a factor, but not the only one.
It’s hard to pay attention to fake crises when there’s a real economic crises. Politics as entertainment is most appealing to those who are basically comfortable and aren’t worried about basic bread and butter issues. That’s now a smaller demographic than it used to be.
There’s also a shortage of actual crises. People are worried about crime, the actual everyday kind that they might experience, as opposed to the abstract “we need gun control because of occasional mass shootings” agitprop. The number of actual people whose lives have changed or will change because of the Dobbs decision is tiny.
On the other hand, people are canceling summer plans, moving and scrimping because of crime and the economy. The pandemic actually affected a lot of people, the current wave of political crises does not.
And there’s also movement fatigue on the Left which doesn’t have much of a standard-bearer or a breakout commentator. Biden and Maddow aren’t exactly doing it.
Cable viewership across the three major cable news networks — CNN, Fox News and MSNBC — is, on average, down 19% in prime time for the first half of this year compared to the first half of 2021. Those losses skew heavily toward CNN and MSNBC, which are down 47% and 33%, respectively. Fox’s ratings are up 12% in that six-month span.
Call it a kind of precursor to the midterms. Democrats are checking out of the narrative.
Can a crisis happen if no one pays attention? I suppose that we’ll find out.