Commentary: Newspapers don't help themselves by coordinating against Trump


If you are a Trump voter who thinks that much of the press is reflexively hostile to the president, 300 of America's leading newspapers want you to know that you might be on to something.

In a self-defeating act of journalistic groupthink, America's editorial pages launched a coordinated protest against President Trump on Thursday, all running negative editorials attacking the president over his #FakeNews rhetoric.

The Boston Globe, who organized the effort, calls it "educating readers" about "an attack on the First Amendment." But to the average American, seeing an editorial in their local paper trashing Trump is called "A day that ends in 'y.'"

Seriously—Who's going to be persuaded by this effort, or be impressed that a few hundred newspapers can hum the same tune? Who's even going to notice?

Well, the newspapers will notice, of course. There's a run on pain pills from all the muscle injuries inflicted by self-indulgent media back-patting. "A Free Press Needs You," a New York Times editorial headline blared on Wednesday, praising themselves for "answering the call" of the Boston Globe and courageously facing the threat that is Donald Trump.

#FakeNews? That phrase is "dangerous to the lifeblood of democracy," the Times intoned. "And calling journalists the 'enemy of the people' is dangerous, period."  

And to prove we aren't the enemy, we in the media are going to band together and go after the guy who keeps saying we are! The same guy we attack every day, seemingly no matter what he does, and in ways we've never attacked a politician before!

The real danger to the media isn't Trump's attacks—it's his departure. Trump, and the hatred he inspires among the left-of-center, media-consuming public, is a massive fiscal boon to these newspapers.  

The New York Times picked up 41,000 subscribers in just the first week after Trump was elected. They made more that $1 billion in subscription revenue in 2017. The impact of Trump on media revenue has been so huge they call it the "Trump Bump."

Yes, yes, Trump's attacks on the media are over-the-top and wrongheaded. Yes, in some small way he's undermining the credibility of legitimate journalism.  

But here's the headline the Boston Globe missed: The media had largely done that to themselves before he showed up. Believe it or not, the percentage of Americans who say they have a "great deal" of trust in newspapers is actually up since Trump took office. 

Or rather it's up from 8 percent to 12 percent. The percentage of Americans with a great deal or quite a lot of trust in newspapers hasn't hit 30 percent since 2006, according to Gallup.



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