As much as the mainstream media has spent the last 4 years doing nothing but pointing out the faults of, and generally harassing President Trump, there would likely be a good portion of the media that would be sorry to see him go, should he lose the 2020 election.
And that is the stage many media companies, including Fox News and the New York Times, are pondering now: what would ratings be like - and what would life be like - if President Trump isn't around for four more years?
Early indications seem to show that the viewing public could be ready for a change, however, even if news organizations aren't. Vice President Joe Biden posted better ratings than Trump in October for both candidates' town halls, Bloomberg reports. Additionally, articles on Biden online - which are far more positive and ubiquitous than articles on Trump - have gotten "higher engagement per story" than those about Trump.
Despite this, news organizations seem to be worried about ratings deep into a Biden administration. On the contrary, Trump was capable of driving ratings simply based on his personality, regardless of whether or not there was a political story to report on any particular day.
Jim VandeHei of Axios said: “With Biden you’re not going to have these wild rallies. You’re going to have speeches on budget reconciliation. I don’t think that’s going to light people’s hearts afire. There’s no way you’re not going to see lower cable ratings and some reduction in traffic to websites.”
One of the biggest beneficiaries of the Trump presidency has been the New York Times, who Bloomberg reports as bringing on subscribers "in droves" during Trump's presidency. Of course, the New York Times was helped along by being able to peddle a Russian meddling story and an impeachment story that both turned out to be non-stories. Between that and publishing an "anonymous" manifesto from a member of the White House "resistance" who turned out to be nobody but a disgruntled low-level staffer, we can see why the paper was able to capture the attention of some curious new subscribers.
The irony, of course, is that the New York Times could do worse under their candidate's Presidency. Media analyst John Belton of Evercore said: “There’s certainly a perception within the investor community that a Biden win will result in a slowdown in New York Times subscriber growth.”
NYT CEO Meredith Kopit Levien said: “The Times is in many ways, as a business, countercyclical to certainty in the world. And it is very hard to imagine that we’re moving into more certain times.”
Cable channels could also face challenges if Trump loses. Fox News might do the best after a Biden win, as it saw its viewership drop after Trump won, from 55% during the Obama years to 46%. MSNBC has "struggled" this year when the news cycle isn't about politics. With nobody left to complain about during a potential Biden presidency, we'd have to guess that Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes would be devoid of a majority of the political content that kept the network afloat the last 4 years.
Tony Haile, CEO of Scroll, summed it up by saying: “The tribal representation of subscribing as political act loses some of its strength,” if Trump loses his platform.
He continued: “If on one hand you’ve got Biden who is predictable and conventional and you have all these wild antics on other side, do you just ignore it or do you cover it? It’ll be a big test for the media.”
And that begs the obvious question: even if Biden wins, would Trump be thrust out of the media or continue to be embraced by it?