President Trump may be the unlikely savior behind the seeming revitalization of the print newspaper industry, which has seen a stark turnaround since the 2016 presidential election.
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The Wall Street Journal, which is owned by News Corp (NASDAQ:NWSA), The New York Times (NYSE:NYT) and The Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) founder Jeff Bezos, all increased paid circulation in 2017 amid a battle to break stories about the White House.
“It’s the narrative of the Trump presidency,” Howard Kurtz, a former Washington Post reporter and host of “Media Buzz” told FOX Business’ Liz Claman. “The guy makes news 23 out of 24 hours of the day.”
The newspapers repeatedly publish scoops, rattling both the industry and the Trump administration. The Post published a story reporting that Trump had revealed top secret information to a Russian foreign minister and ambassador; the Times broke the news that Trump had asked for former FBI director James Comey to end his investigation into then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn; and the Journal, mostly known for its business news coverage, reported that Trump’s attorney arranged for a $130,000 payment in exchange for an adult-film star’s silence regarding their alleged affair.
Trump has repeatedly attacked what he’s dubbed the “fake news” for the coverage of his presidency.
“So many positive things going on for the U.S.A. and the Fake News Media just doesn’t want to go there. Same negative stories over and over again!” he wrote on Twitter on Sunday. “No wonder the People no longer trust the media, whose approval ratings are correctly at their lowest levels in history!”
In a Fox News poll from January 2017, 84% of respondents said that they were at least somewhat concerned fake news was “hurting the country,” with 61% saying they were “very” worried about it.
But the negative coverage, Kurtz said, is part of what’s propelling the industry back into the green by targeting an audience who adamantly opposes the president.
“And it’s the way the papers have positioned themselves,” he said. “For example, the Washington Post -- it helps to have a rich owner like Jeff Bezos -- using the slogan ‘Democracy Dies in Darkness.’ Wonder who that is talking about.”