The New York Times thinks Twitter is a calmer place without Donald Trump’s “anxiety-provoking” tweets. But, like the proverbial battered wife, the newspaper pines for its tormenter.
In an article published on Saturday, the paper described how “a strange quiet” has settled over Twitter since Trump was unceremoniously booted from the platform in January after his supporters rioted on Capitol Hill.
To the Times, Trump’s banishment from Twitter was a literal breath of fresh air. It lowered the blood pressure of one user who “hate-followed” the pugnacious president. Liberals “legitimately slept better with him off Twitter,” and one professor described the feeling of a Trump-free Twitter as being able to “finally take a full, nontoxic breath.”
“Every time he used all-caps,” another professor (an expert in post-traumatic stress) told the Times, “It was as if ‘an abuser was shouting demeaning statements’ at the American people.”
Donald Trump was a master of branding, and never missed a chance to heap scorn and ridicule on the paper he dubbed the “failing New York Times.” The paper gave as good as it got, hitting Trump for four years with sniping commentary and investigation, often with little regard for the truth, as was the case with the infamous “Russian bounties” story.
With Trump out of office and banished from Twitter, the Times has, at least on the surface, reason to celebrate.
Yet it’s not hard to tell that the Times quite misses its abuser. Quoting anti-Trump Republican lawyer George Conway, the paper described how Trump – deprived of his favorite soapbox and in political exile in Florida – has had his voice “rendered nearly impotent,” his thunderous roaring reduced to a “mouse squeaking.”
No other mouse, however, earns feature stories by doing literally nothing. No other mouse is the subject of multiple articles daily. The Times, as well as the liberal media at large, spent four years building Trump up into a sort of spray-tanned Emmanuel Goldstein, to whom the evils of the world could be attributed. But without him, they’re lacking a sense of purpose. They’re also facing an uncertain future.
“Newspapers, television, all forms of media will tank if I’m not there,” Trump predicted in 2017, “because without me, their ratings are going down the tubes.”
Trump’s clairvoyance proved true. Visits to the New York Times’s website dropped 17% in the month after Trump left office, while the Washington Post lost 26%, according to a Washington Post report. Given that Trump’s second impeachment trial took place in February, the fall since is likely higher.
Cable news was even worse hit. CNN’s Chris Cuomo, Anderson Cooper, and Don Lemon saw ratings for their shows plummet 29%, 32%, and 33% respectively between November and March. In total, CNN has lost more than half its viewers since Joe Biden took office.
And outside cable and print news, Trump breathed life into the careers of authors, filmmakers, and government officials with an ax to grind. He made women march in the streets for rights they already had, made America fight over ice cream, and made liberals sing the praises of warmongering Republicans, because, while war is bad, Orange Man is clearly Badder.
The news and media ecosystem is forever changed without Donald Trump, but while his expulsion from social media may mean that “a nation scrolls more calmly,” it could also put the professional hysteria specialists in the media out of a job in short order. A smart New York Times reporter would start chipping in to his 2024 campaign fund immediately.