Yesterday, Donald Trump again denied sexually assaulting E. Jean Carroll, saying in an interview with The Hill, “I’ll say it with great respect. No. 1, she’s not my type. No. 2, it never happened. It never happened, O.K.?”
There was some handwringing about this on social media, but it was muted because this is not the first time that Trump said something like this about a woman who accused him of sexual assault. In fact, the news story itself — a veteran journalist accusing a sitting President of rape — barely raised any eyebrows.
Two and a half years into his Presidency, Trump fatigue has fully set in. It turns out that even the President is not immune to the whims of the media cycle. Remember a few years ago, when Miley Cyrus had a series of episodes of escalating shock value culminating in the MTV Music Awards, where she was rubbing herself on stage with Robin Thicke? That was peak Miley, but after that, there wasn’t much she could do anymore to churn the news cycle again. Miley fatigue set in, and she couldn’t even buy online exposure, even after going full frontal on Instagram. It’s happened with so many celebrities over the last 15 years: Bieber, Lohan, Hilton, Jennifer Lawrence, Jude Law, etc., etc., etc.
And now it’s happening to the President, and that’s a mixed bag where it concerns the leader of the free world. On the one hand, the less the media relies on the Trump news cycle to generate clicks, sell newspapers, and grab cable news viewers, the less the media will be beholden to Trump in the next election (he might even have to buy exposure, like everyone else!).
There may be a slight liberal bias in the media, but you can bet your ass that every cable company and newspaper CEO was a little giddy about Trump winning the 2016 election because they must have thought that the rating surge would go on forever. That bubble has burst. From Axios:
Top news executives tell Axios that a real “Trump slump” is hitting digital, cable and more.
Why it matters: The shock factor around President Trump’s unplanned announcements, staff departures, taunting tweets and erratic behavior is wearing off, and media companies are scrambling to find their next big moneymaker.
Driving the news: Executives tell Axios that Trump fatigue is very real: Interest in political coverage overall is down, which is spurring investments in other beats, like technology and the global economy.
Meanwhile, Trump is also pulling a Miley in that in trying to steer the news cycle, he’s tweeting even more — “157 times per month during his first 6 months to 284 times per month over the last 6 months” — and people are paying even less attention to those tweets. According to Axios, Trump’s interaction rate has fallen from 0.55% in the month he was elected to 0.32% in June 2017 to 0.16% in May 2019.
People don’t give a sh*t about Trump anymore because he’s not saying anything new. He’s repeating himself, and no one cares anymore. The shock value has worn off. We’ve tuned him out. While that is satisfying in some ways because people have lost interest in Trump, it also means that he can get away with a lot more because people don’t care. They’re immune to his scandals, which is another way of saying that his scandals have been normalized.
What may be even worse is that the media itself doesn’t give a sh*t about the 2020 election, except inasmuch as it can generate ratings. Again, from Axios: “Part of the problem is that 2020 Democrats don’t have a knock-out media star to drive interest in the election.” So, apparently, qualifications for President now include “media star”; in fact, it may be the most important qualification.
Unless, of course, you’re like me or many others who would just really like a year or three where we trusted a President enough not to pay attention to her, because honestly, I don’t care about cable news ratings — if the streaming wars run all the cable news networks out of business, I’d be A-OK with that. We can all finally turn our attention where it should be: Perpetual Grace Ltd, airing Sunday nights on Epix.
Header Image Source: Epix