by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Nearly 18 months after leaving office and with his trademark Twitter account still suspended, former President Donald Trump continues to crop up in the news.
With incumbent President Joe Biden shying from the spotlight and struggling to get his messages to resonate, Trump commands a media presence much larger than that of a typical ex-president. With Jan. 6 committee hearings scheduled for prime time this month, the public will get an even larger dose of the Trump show than usual.
“Trump is still the most interesting man in the world,” said Republican strategist John Feehery. “That’s why the media spends so much time covering him — because it is good for ratings.”
That statement is borne out by statics showing that news television and website traffic plummeted after Biden took office last Jan. 20 and remains down overall.
But it’s not just the news media. Democrats continue referencing and talking about Trump, either in an attempt to connect down-ballot Republican candidates to him or to keep his misdeeds in office top of mind.
Historian David Garrow said some news outlets, namely the New York Times and Washington Post, seem especially enthralled with Trump, which might be “because they built subscriber bases that are obsessed with loathing Trump.” Some of the Washington Post’s coverage of the 50th anniversary of Watergate centers on Trump.
Garrow, the author of Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama, has noted the sharp contrast between Obama’s quick disappearance from the headlines and Trump’s strong staying power.
“To have a former president who still looms at least as large as the incumbent is just utterly unprecedented in American history,” he said.
Some polling indicates the public is ready to move on from the Jan. 6 capitol riot.