I was prepared to write about the way national media has become ever more distracted in the post-Trump political realm.
But I was momentarily distracted, by Tucker Carlson's claims that the NSA thinks he's James Bond. Uh, Tucker, if an American with influence is emailing Vladimir Putin for anything between sharing secret codes or asking for an interview, I hope our security cyborgs are at least aware of it, to be honest. And if this happened to Don Lemon, you'd be calling him Benedict Lemon or comrade or something like that.
But that's a topic for another page, I suppose.
This is more about the spin cycle that Trump once dominated that has now spun itself so far off course, Magellan is giggling.
The headlines on Thursday afternoon around the media landscape ranged from attempts to be clever to politicians trying to game the system, which does not seem like news or is certainly not worthy.
> On Foxnews.com "DING DONG: HHS secretary defends door-to-door vaccine checks, says 'government's business' to know who got jab." A little further down, there are pictures of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn smooching during vacation, which had a little People-meets-AARP magazine vibe;
> On CNN.com, a headline trumpets: "They're running in districts that don't exist," which seems fitting since there are more than a few politicians out there we wish they did not exist.
The further extremes of Mother Jones and MSNBC on the left and Newsmax and The Federalist on the right were just as predictable, be it overstatements in all directions about voting bills or portraying Trump as the David to the social media Goliaths.
Of course, the cable news sites are digging deep to keep their readers engaged and outraged, but that task is harder today without the leading carnival barker in the White House. We had no-drama Obama and now Biden ranges from a polite, workman approach that is kind of boring to confused rambling that is kind of sad. And the statistics from these websites bear that out and might even be worse than you think.
A report this week from Axios.com showed that traffic for mainstream media sites like The New York Times was down 18%. For left-center sites (think the Atlantic) and right-center sites (Foxnews.com) the numbers were down 17% and 27%, respectively. The far left and the far right sites (think Mother Jones and Newsmax) are down even more at 27% and 44%, respectively.
These numbers should not be lost on us. Perhaps the steep declines in web traffic, especially to the more extreme outlets, are good news moving forward. Fewer folks turning to the extremes is a good thing, regardless of which side of the aisle you sit, right?
The one-trick ponies — be they media sites or even the political names attempting to fill Trump's absence — cannot generate the type of hyperventilating headlines that Trump could.
In terms of leadership, that's a good thing. But it begs the question of how these sites will fare because eyeballs and clicks are money.
And those eyeballs follow the outrage — real or manufactured.
Contact Jay Greeson at firstname.lastname@example.org.