Cable news outlets are pulling huge ratings and reporters are becoming overnight celebrities as the attacks between President Trump and the media enter strange new territory.
The White House has agitated for the fight, believing that every day it spends feuding with the media exposes further press bias and energizes the conservative base.
But Trump’s claim that MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski was “bleeding badly from a face-lift” unified the media, with anchors from Fox News to CNN expressing outrage at the president’s tweets and pointing to them as evidence that the press should not treat Trump like a normal president.
Trump again sent the media into a fury over the weekend when he tweeted a doctored video showing him at a fake wrestling match body-slamming someone with the CNN logo superimposed over their face. Reporters accused Trump of encouraging violence against the press.
The relationship between the White House and the media is in shambles, with the daily press briefings devolving into shouting matches and airing of grievances. Both sides engage in stunts, grandstanding and political theater meant to undermine or embarrass the other.
The White House has long viewed attacking the media, dubbed “the opposition party” by chief strategist Stephen Bannon, as a winning strategy. But the nasty turn has also been a boon to the media and the individual reporters who register acts of protest against the administration.
“Ratings are part of it, but the media’s open contempt for this administration is part of it too,” said Tim Graham, the director of media analysis at the conservative Media Research Center. “I imagine it will continue as long as the ratings keep going up.”
Left-leaning MSNBC pulled big numbers as the only network in open opposition to the president, even before the spat between Trump and “Morning Joe” hosts Joe Scarborough and Brzezinski engulfed Washington.
According to Nielsen’s second-quarter ratings, MSNBC’s total viewers are up 73 percent year-over-year, with prime-time viewership up 86 percent, easily making it the fastest-growing cable news outlet.
Anchor Rachel Maddow has become a cultural icon on the left while also attracting a younger audience of viewers. MSNBC’s share of the coveted 25- to 54-year-old demographic grew 78 percent in prime time over last year. Its prime-time audience has nearly tripled since second quarter of 2014.
Scarborough said on Twitter that his show had a record month for ratings.
SOURCE: JONATHAN EASLEY