Thursday, August 30, 2018

Trump's "fake news" revisited

I am not entirely sure why, but I find something heartening about the fact that the National Enquirer, a U.S. scandal sheet, has a dwindling circulation. The publication has made no secret of its support for Donald Trump and, in recent revelations, has been accused of short-circuiting the publication of a story about the current president's alleged extra-marital liaisons and payoffs to a porn star and a Playboy focal point.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Enquirer has long explained its support for Donald Trump as a business decision based on the president’s popularity among its readers. But private financial documents and circulation figures obtained by The Associated Press show that the tabloid’s business was declining even as it published stories attacking Trump’s political foes and, prosecutors claim, helped suppress stories about his alleged sexual affairs.
The Enquirer’s privately held parent company, American Media Inc., lost $72 million for the year ending in March, the records obtained by the AP show. And despite AMI chairman David Pecker’s claims that the Enquirer’s heavy focus on Trump sells magazines, the documents show that the Enquirer’s average weekly circulation fell by 18 percent to 265,000 in its 2018 fiscal year from the same period the year before — the greatest percentage loss of any AMI-owned publication. The slide follows the Enquirer’s 15 percent circulation loss for the previous 12 months, a span that included the presidential election.
Somewhere, in the midst of this story and the loss of circulation, the question arises in my mind as to whether Trump supporters are really not quite as stupid as the liberal left would like to believe. Is there a limited amount of bullshit even Trump's core constituency is willing to swallow? Maybe, of course, it's just be that no one likes to read much any more and therefore Enquirer readership is bound to tumble ... together with a willingness to consume "Moby Dick" or William Shakespeare. But maybe watching the "fake news" segue into bastions of right-wing support is just too big a pill to swallow and people are voting with the wallets.

J. Edgar Hoover, the longtime head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was once said to have served his 48 years at the helm by being privy to so many of the dirty little secrets that the eight (seven?) presidents he served under did not want made public. Hoover knew where the embarrassing bodies were buried... and he liked his éminence grise job. If he were to spill the beans.... Well, he didn't and he kept his job.

Now the secrets have been transferred from the quasi-august FBI to a safe maintained by the National Enquirer and its family. This may seem poetically consonant with a Donald Trump presidency, but when then entire meaning of a word like "scandal" has lost its ooomph and everyone has his nose up someone else's ass, perhaps even the National Enquirer must take its lumps.

It all reminds me of Abraham Lincoln's observation that "You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time." Maybe even those who have lost their jobs under a president who promised to create more jobs (is that like "fake news" or what?) have their doubts. Is all this possible or am I just whistling past the graveyard again.

Oh well, just looking for a little sunshine on yet another cloudy day.


  1. What kills me is that trump is such a whiner. But rather than being repulsed, his core is sympathetic. I imagine any of us might feel bullied these days, but knowing the bully so that you don't support him strikes me as pretty basic. He should get out of the kitchen. And his core should wake the fuck up and pay attention.

  2. The National Inquirer’s circulation statistics are an interesting reveal.

    I’d like to see a fairly nuanced analysis of “Trump Supporters.”

    Politico has published a poll which indicates Trump’s approval / disapproval ratings among other things. It was updated 8/24/18:

    I still don’t completely understand why Trump’s approval rating is as high as it is. I’d love to know how much is due to FoxNews and Sinclair New campaign of misinformation which which helps some fraction of the 1% and how much is due to blind, deaf and dumb ideological loyalty.

  3. In a recent TV discussion I heard, someone commented that even on the cusp of impeachment, when it was clear that "I am not a crook" was a bit of over-reach, Richard Nixon still had a 20% support rate.

  4. There's a pretty good breakdown here...

    Certainly support from fox has an effect and their viewership has apparently grown with trump, while it had slumped with bush. But fox is seen as the trump channel and he's made politics very divisive. The with us or against us thing is very like a religious fanaticism. And his support in the confederate states is very high with his implied association with racist groups. And in spite of the harm to the republican party, they seem to feel a party obligation to support him. Some of us are old enough to remember the yellow dog democrat effect.

    There are far more independents registered than either of the major parties which says people feel disaffected, but they've no organizational structure or alternative candidates. there's a lot of interesting material on the subject here...

    And for an anti-trump voice there's Chauncey Devega who can be heard here discussing the phenomenon of stupid people who don't know they're stupid...