CNN doubled its audience in April, while MSNBC hit its best total-day ratings. Network news programs rose 39% since last year, gaining over 8 million viewers for their best numbers in over a decade. Cable news networks have become the most watched channels on cable and network news has been beating prime time programming. The pandemic is the next best thing to Walter Cronkite rising from the dead.
The New York Times is up to 6 million subscribers with an increase of 587,000 digital subscriptions that it attributes to “widespread interest in news of the coronavirus pandemic”. Last year the paper was struggling to make it to 5 million subscribers. Digital subscriptions are up across the industry. Digital subscriptions rose 29% at the Dallas Morning News, 17% at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, and the Poynter-FactCheck’s Tampa Bay Times boasted of tripling the rate of digital subscriptions.
(That didn’t stop the Tampa Bay Times from getting an SBA loan at the expense of small businesses.)
With 87% of Americans saying that they’re closely following news of the coronavirus pandemic, while many of them are trapped indoors, the media is experiencing an unprecedented boom. And with millions of kids out of school, it’s even begun launching new ventures to exploit the pandemic like NBC News’ coronavirus newscast for kids. It’s a terrible time for Americans, but a great one for the media.
The only thing that could rain on the media’s pandemic parade would be the country reopening.
A Captive Audience
Right now, the media has the American public right where it wants it, trapped indoors, and closely following whatever combination of reporting, propaganda, and lies it chooses to feed to them.
And the polls show that it’s working.
Most of the country is afraid. A not insignificant percentage of the electorate is convinced that it will die if its cohort leaves the house without a mask, and would like to keep receiving government checks forever. Media hysteria not only trashed the economy, but sold millions on the socialist lifestyle.
After the Russia hoax, a botched impeachment, and more hit pieces than even historians will be able to count, the media is achieving its grand ideological goal of endangering President Trump’s reelection.
All the media had to do was scare the public within an inch of its life into crawling under the bed.
To quote the nation’s first Republican president, “you may fool people for a time; you can fool a part of the people all the time; but you can’t fool all the people all the time.” That’s always been the problem with the media’s business model. It has a core audience that it can fool all the time. But it can’t have any real power unless it reaches beyond the urbanites and suburbanites concentrated in a few blue areas.
As the warmer weather swept in, social distancing began to collapse, accelerating reopenings in red states, and putting pressure on blue states to step up. Even New York and California have been forced to move up their timetables while struggling with the crowds headed to the beach or socializing in parks.
Every state has now moved toward lifting their lockdowns to one degree or another.
And the people aren’t waiting for the politicians to act. The median distance people have been traveling, based on cell phone data, doubled from half a mile to a mile. The shutdown is being shut down.
Now it’s the media’s turn to be afraid.
The Atlantic condemned Governor Brian Kemp’s decision to reopen Georgia as an “experiment in human sacrifice”. But, Coronavirus cases have dropped 20% since the reopening. So, the media has doubled down on its false claims by spinning conspiracy theories about the Georgia and Florida numbers.
After a Florida state employee who had been inputting numbers into the state’s virus dashboard was fired, the media insisted that she had been silenced for refusing to cover up the “real” numbers. The media neglected to mention that she had been arrested for cyber-stalking and revenge porn.
It has since moved on to suggesting a cover-up at the CDC.
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