Have you had your first Trump-free day yet? A day in which a single thought about the former president didn’t enter your head? It seemed impossible to imagine, even just a year or so ago. And yet, I know that I’ve already had one. And I would not be surprised if you have as well.
I say that because Trump’s grip on our attention economy has undoubtedly slipped in a dramatic fashion over the last several weeks. Expelled from the Oval Office and banned from social media, the former president’s ability to direct our attention has all but evaporated.
Trump seems to know this. In search of the attention that he desperately craves, the former president has started sending bombastic Twitter-like statements from the “45 Office” straight into the inboxes of reporters. But most of those statements are outright ignored. I don’t think I’ve seen a single one of them show up in a cable news chyron like his early morning tweets once did. Trump’s statements simply fail to drive the narrative nowadays.
Even when he phones up his favorite propaganda channels, no one seems to pay attention. On Tuesday, he called into Newsmax. Most people probably have no idea that he did so. And if they were aware, it’s unlikely they really know what he said. When he calls into Fox shows, the programs barely see a ratings bump the next day. No one seems to really care about what he has to say.
The proof is in the data
As Bump explains, in March, “Google search interest [in Trump] was lower than at any point since June 2015, as was the amount of time he was seen on cable. The networks were covering him far less, down to the point reached last year when the pandemic overtook Trump in the national attention. Besides that, the average mentions of Trump in March were back to the levels seen in November 2015…”
To tweet or not to tweet?
Since Trump’s only hope for coverage at this point rests on reporters posting the (often deranged) statements he puts out via email, a debate has commenced about whether journalists should be tweeting them out. Those against the practice argue that reporters are continuing to lend their platforms to someone who doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously. Don’t give him the oxygen he needs to retain his hold on our politics. Just ignore him!