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More Opinion Means Less News

Donald Trump’s rising tide has lifted the boats of both liberal and conservative media—and that’s worrisome.

If you happen to be one of those wonks who watches the media closely—not that there’s anything wrong with that—Axios has a rather interesting story out today noting a somewhat paradoxical trend in the Era of Trump—one that, thank the maker, has zero to do with Stormy This or Russia That.

Typically when one political party is in power, you tend to see an uptick in the number—not to mention the ratings—of opinion outlets on the opposite end of the political spectrum. As an example, Axios notes the increasing popularity of conservative talk radio when Bill Clinton was in office, which mobilized conservatives who wanted to hear their opinions validated by radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh.

Cursiouly enough, however, Donald Trump seems taken things a step further. Not only has he inspired a vigorous Resistance Media, he has also created a cottage industry of media with a pronounced MAGA bent:

The big picture, from Rodney Benson, chair of NYU's Department of Media, Culture, and Communication: "Many of the media moving toward subscriptions have disproportionately left-liberal audiences. ... While liberal media draw their circles ever tighter around themselves (via paywalls, high-level content, etc.), conservatives are fighting to extend their mass reach."

The latest: "Bill O’Reilly is in talks to head back to cable news in his old 8 p.m. slot, but this time at Newsmax TV," according to N.Y. Post's “Page Six.”

Newsmax owner Chris Ruddy is close friends with President Trump, and O'Reilly's return to the spotlight would give the President another media ally to disseminate his talking points.

We see this trend in every medium:

Radio: Executives at Salem Radio, the parent company of some of the most popular conservative talk shows, pressured radio hosts to cover Trump more positively, according to emails obtained by CNNMoney.

Broadcast: Sinclair Broadcasting, the largest owner of local TV stations, has drawn criticism for its "must-run" editorials and scripts — peppering local newscasts with pro-Trump talking points — but continues the practice.

Cable: Very few people were surprised by this week's New York mag story about Fox's Sean Hannity speaking regularly at night with Trump. The network's pro-Trump, prime time coverage in focuses heavily on stories that highlight the supposed dishonesty of mainstream media.

Digital: A handful of local news sites, like “Tennessee Star” and the “Arizona Monitor,” are popping up, with headlines supporting GOP candidates that are then sometimes featured for GOP election ads, Politico reports. These sites are intentionally framed to look like real news websites, as outwardly conservative sites, like The Daily Caller and Breitbart, see traffic dips.

Meanwhile, the article points out, the former Obamaniks who run Pod Save America are making money hand over fist pumping out their anti-Trump shtick. Couple that with the 24-hour #Resistance on MSNBCNNABCCBSNBC, and you got yourself a cash bonanza clash that makes Avengers: Infinity War look like a low-budget indie flick.

I have a few problems with the Axios theorem—for one thing, it doesn’t explain why Air America bombed out so badly when George W. Bush was the left’s designated boogeyman, not does it take into account how the entertainment value of right-wing media tends to be better than the outrageously dull stuff the left marinades in—but it is kind of fascinating that Trump really seems to be helping both sides out.

But is that a good thing?

Since I write opinion on this site, part of me wants to say, “Hells to the yeah!” Anything that gooses clicks to the Resurgent is good for the writers here and good for the boss—and, as Nick Kammer discovered when he insulted Erick’s taste in bourbon and was forced to live in a steamer trunk for a week answering to the name “Gimp,” we like to keep the boss happy.

However, the idea that people are increasingly retreating behind the paywalls of their own Private Idahos is a bit dismaying. Real, hard news doesn’t always agree with our respective worldviews—so when we get our information only from sources that don’t conflict with our prejudices, it’s a lot like eating pork rinds to get your recommended daily allowance of riboflavin. Sure, it might be in there, but it’s nowhere near what you need for a balanced diet.

Sadly, I don’t see this trend changing anytime soon.

"Real, hard news doesn’t always agree with our respective worldviews" I agree. That might be a first for me regarding one of your articles Marc! I do my part by keeping up on what you guys write here. I'm boycotting RedState now after they cleaned house (even though they left a few dissident voices). So expect to see more of me over here getting my "balanced diet." Good article.

All of the news-ish channels are now about 90% political news. It used to be I could turn on CNN and watch ten stories, one of which would be political. Now it's the reverse. A major celebrity can die now and it will get only a few minutes of air time.

Now, is this a bad thing? Let me see, what will impact my own, personal, tangible life more:

a) Tom Wolfe dieing;

b) Trump insulting another one of our (soon to be former) allies.

I'm going to go with (b). The fact is that"all of that political stuff" is exactly what the news should be covering these days since there's so many drastic, world-changing, life-changing changes going on right now.

I think this trend might just be a healthy thing for our country. People need to get more serious and not just assume "everything will be alright".

I once shared a flight to Mexico City with David Brinkley. He would weep to see what the "news" has become. There is only advocacy and partisanship, and the public is left to sift through the rhetoric and the malarkey to find some semblance of real news. There is nothing healthy about it.

I quit cable news for CBS, the local affiliates and nationwide. Even looking in occasionally at cable news, on any station, makes me glad I did it. You can see the bias so clearly. As well as the attempts to manipulate by strongly stating your opinion as the host. Whatever cable "news" is, it is not news.

Today's "news" is 95% partisan opinion and naked speculation. This makes it nearly impossible to establish shared facts to facilitate self governing. Everything is spun for partisan advantage....keeping the viewers aware of who they should be angry at, fear, or hate. But....this is what we wanted....we demand instantaneous gratification...or we are going to burn everything to the ground. We need to change as a people....recognize that politics at its core is about compromise...and building coalitions....then the media will follow the cue....and get back to doing ethical journalism. What's going on now is unwatchable and sad....

None of the news stations give unbiased news. Fox News is all in for Trump with nothing but positive things to say about the "bully in chief." Whereas the other news stations have only negative things to say about the "bully in chief." My answer, stop watching the news. They are all biased one way or the other. I get my news from reading articles online from sites such as The Resurgent, The Blaze, National Review, The Daily Wire, etc.

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I gave up on news long ago cuz all this opinion crap made me angry! I'm tired of the media insulting my intelligence! All I want is facts and no outlet seems to understand that. News is all opinion today, telling us how we are supposed to think and feel about whatever they want us too. No thanks!

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