Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
71% of Americans watched the Watergate hearings live. The Iran-Contra hearings beat regular programming on the big three networks which aired them live and without commercial breaks. 20 million tuned in to watch Anita Hill recite her dishonest smears against Justice Clarence Thomas.
Televised hearings had worked for the Democrats before. And they doubled down on them now.
Around 20 million watched Comey’s testimony and the attempt to ‘Thomas’ Justice Kavanaugh. Michael Cohen’s appearance took ratings down to 15 million. Mueller’s belated appearance brought them down to 13 million. The first day of the House impeachment proceedings was watched by only 13 million.
The first day of the Senate impeachment trial saw ratings fall to under 12 million. By the second day, they had fallen to 9 million.
This is the era of the internet. Are television ratings down because people are turning to websites?
Google Trends tracks impeachment interest as about a quarter of the level in late December. Taboola shows impeachment stories dropping from 20 million-page views to 15 million-page views in one week. Newswhip shows an even more dramatic decline from 80 million weekly engagements for impeachment content during the House hearings down to 22 million for the Senate trial.
While the media remains obsessed with impeachment, it’s well aware that the outbreak of the coronavirus and Kobe’s crash are drawing in far bigger audiences than the antics in the Senate.
The Democrats had spent years building up to this climactic moment, but now no one’s even watching.
The declining ratings tell the tale of a scam gone wrong. The media spent years promising a definitive takedown of Trump. Comey’s testimony was going to take down Trump. And then the Mueller investigation would see him in prison. Impeachment was going to be the grand finale. But it’s over.
It was always over once it was clear that Trump had the votes to survive a Senate trial.
And if he does, then what’s the point? The ratings declines reflect public sentiment that the trial is pointless and fatigue with Trump Derangement Syndrome that had buoyed the media for years.
You can only hit the rage button so many times. And then the rats will no longer stir from their cages.
The New York Times’ stock price tripled after Trump won outperforming the S&P 500 by six times. In the week after his victory, it added 41,000 subscribers. The paper went from an $8 million loss to a $13 million profit. Much of the growth was driven by the paper’s stream of exclusives targeting Trump.
But there are signs this year that the media’s free Trump ride is over. In November, the Times shocked investors with the news that ad revenues had fallen over 6%. In early trading, its stock was down 9%. While there’s still plenty of money coming in, turbulence is growing and growth is becoming more uncertain. And, more significantly, the New York Times has been losing the engagement battle.
In May, the New York Times fell out of the top three, displaced by the Daily Mail. By November, it had fallen to seventh place. Its Facebook growth fell from 25% in 2017 to 3.5%. Its Twitter follower growth also dropped from 50% annually to only 5%. Another way to see the 1619 Project is as a desperate bid for relevance and traffic even as the appeal of Trump Derangement Syndrome continues to crater.
The TDS crash was even more obvious on cable news where CNN closed the year with a 9% decline in viewers and MSNBC suffered a 3% drop. Numbers like these foreshadow a much bigger collapse.
National newspapers and cable news had been using Trump Derangement Syndrome to stave off the inevitable decline in their industry. And it worked. A handful of outlets grew and went on hiring binges even while their local and digital cousins held mass purges, shut down, or cut everything to the bone.
But everything has to end sooner or later.
Trump Derangement Syndrome is burning out the core audiences that made the media profitable. The Impeachment Eve rallies failed miserably with turnouts in the hundreds in Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia. A month later, turnout at the Women’s March had declined from the hundreds of thousands to the thousands. Even as impeachment was underway, the audience wasn’t there.
“Breaking Down the Big Impeachment Rally Mystery,” an NBC News headline speculated. “Democrats have flooded the streets by the millions to protest Trump before. So why did the protests calling for his removal stay so modest?”
“I Don’t Understand Why There Aren’t Thousands of People Protesting the Senate Trial,” Esquire fumed.
“Where the Hell are the Impeachment Protests?” Washingtonian demanded.
Same place as the ratings.
After Comey, the Kavanaugh hearings, and the Mueller investigation, burnout and defeatism has set in. Even as House and Senate Democrats pursued their misguided impeachment bid, their base was no longer showing up. Not in the streets or even on their television sets. They’re not up for it anymore.
Charlie Brown had finally figured out that he was never going to be allowed to kick the orange football.
Democrats finally understand that the battle to remove President Trump won’t be fought by Comey, Mueller, Schiff, and, Nadler, or any of the other grifters, but by a choice of extraordinarily poor 2020 candidates. While the media promised that Trump would be removed by misuse of the 25th Amendment, by Robert Mueller, or, finally by impeachment, the Democrats paid too little mind to 2020.
And, as a result, their best bet for taking down Trump has narrowed down to Biden or Bernie. Meanwhile good economic news is boosting Trump’s popularity and improving his chances.
Most Democrats now understand that removing Trump is a dead end. And defeating him now looks more unlikely than ever before. While they screamed in the streets, the election was already being lost.
This is what Trump Derangement Syndrome has wrought.
The only thing that years of concentrated fury have accomplished is the derangement and corruption of the Democrats. Trump Derangement Syndrome didn’t defeat Trump, it defeated the Democrats. Even as the election approaches, the party base is tired and feels futile. Every effort to bring down Trump has fallen short. Instead of using the 2018 election to build momentum, House Democrats squandered it.
And now they’re going to be heading into the primaries fresh off another defeat on impeachment.
Trump Derangement Syndrome has burned out Democrats. It hollowed out the media, turned the House victory sour, overshadowed the primaries, and put the party on a path to another catastrophe.
The mobs have left. The viewers aren’t there. Impeachment is the final act of Trump Derangement Syndrome. And the furious screamers aren’t sticking around for the miserable conclusion of the show.
Meanwhile the Democrats and the media that cultivated TDS are about to face their own reckoning.
Trump Derangement Syndrome was the weapon that was going to bring down Trump. Without it, they don’t have a plan to win. They’ve done their worst. And now there’s nothing else left for the Left.