It’s really stating the obvious.
I delved into some of the numbers earlier this year.
The Washington Post has racked up viral hit fake news stories backed by anonymous sources. And it’s paying off. The Post claimed a traffic increase of 50% at the end of last year with a 75% increase in new subscribers. The official line is that Jeff Bezos has transformed the Post’s digital strategy. The reality was conveyed by its new anti-Trump slogan. “Democracy dies in darkness.” The silly slogan was an exercise in branding. It announced that this was the paper of choice for “researched” attacks on Trump.
Now the Post has hit $100 million in digital revenues and added hundreds of thousands of digital subscribers. All of this is quite a change from a few years ago when the Post was losing $50 million a year and Baron was talking about shrinking the newsroom.
Baron, who had come out of the Boston Globe, planned to save the Post with strong metro coverage. But nobody in D.C. actually wanted metro coverage. Unlike Boston, Washington D.C. isn’t a real city. It’s a mashup of two cities, one filled with poor black people and the other with wealthy government types. The former don’t buy the Post. And the latter don’t want to read about the people living around them.
Next year, the Post suffered an 85% earnings loss. Baron’s plan to save the paper had failed. Instead what made it a powerhouse again was the flow of anti-Trump hit pieces. As Baron euphemistically put it, “I think there’s a direct connection between investigative reporting and subscriptions.”
“The people who are subscribing clearly want us to do investigative reporting… that’s something they are willing to pay for,” he said. But he was playing coy. Those subscribers wanted anti-Trump hit pieces. . They expected the paper to bring down President Trump. They were investing in dead tree media the way they invested in any left-wing political campaign. The Post had become just another PAC.
It’s no different at the New York Times, as even its former editor, no fan of the current management, will admit.
A former executive editor of the New York Times says the paper’s news pages, the home of its straight-news coverage, have become “unmistakably anti-Trump.”
Jill Abramson, the veteran journalist who led the newspaper from 2011 to 2014, says the Times has a financial incentive to bash the president and that the imbalance is helping to erode its credibility.
“Though Baquet said publicly he didn’t want the Times to be the opposition party, his news pages were unmistakably anti-Trump,” Abramson writes, adding that she believes the same is true of the Washington Post. “Some headlines contained raw opinion, as did some of the stories that were labeled as news analysis.”
What’s more, she says, citing legendary 20th century publisher Adolph Ochs, “the more anti-Trump the Times was perceived to be, the more it was mistrusted for being biased. Ochs’s vow to cover the news without fear or favor sounded like an impossible promise in such a polarized environment.”
Abramson describes a generational split at the Times, with younger staffers, many of them in digital jobs, favoring an unrestrained assault on the presidency. “The more ‘woke’ staff thought that urgent times called for urgent measures; the dangers of Trump’s presidency obviated the old standards,” she writes.
“Given its mostly liberal audience, there was an implicit financial reward for the Times in running lots of Trump stories, almost all of them negative: they drove big traffic numbers and, despite the blip of cancellations after the election, inflated subscription orders to levels no one anticipated.”
There is, a CNN, MSNBC, WaPo and the New York Times will tell you, lots of money in Trump-bashing and acting as the communications arm of the Left.
The product that the media is selling isn’t journalism or news. It’s agitprop. It’s a PAC fueled by dark money running an endless series of attack ads. Except the media is now the attack ad.