Since the early days of his campaign Donald Trump has waged war against the media. Delegitimizing them at every turn by painting them as biased and untrustworthy. Often times Donald Trump will call journalists out by name in speeches or via twitter, and labels entire outlets as “fake news”, perhaps most infamously when he shouted down CNN’s Jim Acosta with the term. But nobody has taken quite as much heat from Donald Trump as the New York Times.
Since the early days of Trump’s primary campaign the New York Times were a frequent target. And it seems to have helped the Times as their stock has climbed to a near five year high over the last year.
It’s hard to believe this bump in stock price isn’t directly tied to their new adversarial role in Donald Trump’s America. Not only does Donald Trump constantly call the New York Times out on twitter, which permeates into almost every media outlet in the country. This undoubtedly has had a direct impact on the price of Times stock, if for no other reason than this free publicity has undoubtedly had something to do with the increase in subscriptions they are currently experiencing.
In fact, New York Times subscriptions have ballooned, increasing 10 fold since election day. According to New York Times CEO Mark Thompson, the month of November alone saw over 132,000 new subscriptions. For a media company that has seen some major cuts in the last decade Donald Trump has proved to be a boon.
The New York Times are not the only ones to benefit from Donald Trump’s attacks. Saturday Night Live now boasts increased viewership and a new generation of viewers. Teen Vogue has seen record subscriptions, so has Vanity Fair, and any number of publications explicitly called out by Donald Trump. The retailer Nordstroms saw a similar bump in support after being targeted by Donald Trump.
If anything Donald Trump is a boon for all these organizations. Every time Trump takes to twitter to decry them they gain more support from people who are growing tired with the Twitter tantrums of the most powerful man in the world. And every time those supporters show up these organizations experience increased success.
At the same time though criticism from Donald Trump may have given the New York Times a boost, but that criticism is most definitely resonating with his supporters. American trust for media is at an all time low and many people had significant issues with the media long before Donald Trump. The media environment is polarized and combative which drives people into different camps and increasingly two different worldviews.
For a lot of Donald Trump supporters, the New York Times is failing. For those voters the Times is dishonest, it’s untrustworthy, and there is nothing in their media landscape that will challenge those assertions. Donald Trump constantly calling out the New York Times on twitter might be a temporary boost for the New York Times. It might even elevate journalism that eventually aids in his downfall. Unfortunately it’s much larger than that and the division within the media landscape is a serious problem that gets worse every time Donald Trump tweets.