I hope this is not just me trapped in my Times-bashing bubble, but... Jim Rutenberg delivers this piece on Trump saving the news business without any irony or self-awareness that I can detect:
By Attacking the Press, Donald Trump May Be Doing It a Favor
The answer to all the troubling new questions about the future of the news business — how to make money, stop the spread of fake news and reassert a uniform view of reality — appeared last week in a plate of “flaccid, gray Szechuan dumplings.”
That was how the Vanity Fair writer Tina Nguyen described her appetizer at the Trump Grill in a review that said the joint — the flagship eatery of White House North (Trump Tower) — could be “The Worst Restaurant in America.” [link]
Vanity Fair posted the piece late Wednesday. Early Thursday, Donald J. Trump did what he so often does when a news organization or private business makes him mad. He attacked its leadership and impugned its fiscal health, on Twitter.
“Has anyone looked at the really poor numbers of @VanityFair Magazine,” the incoming president of the United States wrote. “Way down, big trouble, dead! Graydon Carter, no talent, will be out!”
Actually, the magazine reports that its circulation, its revenue and its Web traffic are all up this year over last. And Mr. Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair and one of the best magazine editors in the country, is in no more danger of losing his job than he was a year ago, when Mr. Trump wondered aloud whether he was on his way out.
But Mr. Carter seized the moment with a red home page banner calling Vanity Fair “The Magazine Donald Trump Doesn’t Want You to Read” and imploring visitors, “Subscribe Now!”
Lo and behold, subscriptions spiked a hundredfold over their daily average, the magazine said, bringing Vanity Fair’s parent company, Condé Nast, the biggest number of new daily sign-ups in its 116-year history. (The tally had hit 42,000 by Sunday.)
As Mr. Trump tries to burn the media village down, he may just be saving it.
You can only imagine my relief upon hearing this good news about the state of Vanity Fair. But after this somewhat extensive lead in illustrating the salvation of the "news" business, let me ask a question - does Mr. Rutenberg sincerely believe that the Trump Grill in question really is a candidate for "worst" restaurant in America, does he suspect it may be the worst restaurant in America for Trump-loathers, or does he not even care as long as readers lap it up?
Every media outlet, even the Times, faces a perennial problem posed by their readership - people generally want affirmation, not information. To pick an example seemingly at random, the Times pre-election coverage rarely challenged their progressive readership with the notion that all was not honey and cream throughout Obama's America.
After the election's rug-pull the "what went wrong" coverage expanded. We learned that white employment has actually fallen during the Obama "recovery", which just might (along with declining working class white life expectancy) have been a straw in the wind suggesting that Hillary's commitment to continuing the current regime might have fallen on unhappy ears in the heartland. But who wanted to know that these unreconstructed racist homophobes had arguably real economic concerns? No one at the Times.
Nor, I suspect, do Vanity Fair readers want to read positive reviews of Trump properties right now. Any Trump bashing, on the other hand, guarantees clicks from the large (but melting down!) progressive community. I am confident that there are people who will happily subscribe right now to a guaranteed year of "This Is How Hard Trump Sucks" coverage, based on Mr. Rutenberg's lead anecdote.
But is this really the salvation of the news industry?
Mr. Rutenberg is apparently unable to connect his lede to his theme, or maybe doesn't see the gap:
But in the weeks since the election, magazines like The New Yorker, The Atlantic and Vanity Fair; newspapers including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post; and nonprofits like NPR and ProPublica have been reporting big boosts in subscription rates or donations.
It’s as if Mr. Trump’s media attacks have combined with the heightened attention on the perils of fake news to create one big fat advertisement for the value of basic journalism.
“The fake news business is going to be great for journalism in the long run,” Mr. Carter told me Friday, referring to Mr. Trump as “the Fake Newser in Chief.” “Proper news organizations should thrive under this.”
"Proper news" such as calm, objective analysis declaring a Trump restaurant the "worst in America"? Please. And with the exception of the WSJ, those are all left-leaning outlets. What, people didn't value their coverage under Obama?
No. In the twilight struggle between affirmation and information, the Vanity Fair example shows that affirmation has won.
I HAVE TO ADD: I didn't read the Vanity Fair article to the end so I can't say definitively that the author, Tina Nguyen, declared the grill to be dreadful because of the high risk of seeing tourists dining there who also shop at WalMart. But she might have!
SINCE YOU ASK: Yelp reviews for the Trump Grill can be sorted by date, including oldest first. Believe it or not, a lot of the reviews in the post-election period are negative!
I would say the early reviews (2008-2012 appear on the first page) are mixed to negative. But Worst?