President Donald Trump attacked the New York Times and Washington Post for low advertising numbers amid the coronavirus crisis, suggesting the drop was caused by “fake news.”
“Advertising in the Failing New York Times is WAY down. Washington Post is not much better. I can’t say whether this is because they are Fake News sources of information, to a level that few can understand, or the Virus is just plain beating them up,” Trump tweeted Monday morning. “Fake News is bad for America!”
In reality, advertising is down across all media and has been since businesses started shutting down as the virus spread and Americans retreated — some voluntarily, some by government mandate — into their homes. This has nothing to do with individual outlets’ coverage. The Times recently covered the downturn in the advertising industry, not just in newspapers and digital outlets, but on billboards and more.
Newspapers, especially local ones, are taking a beating as the novel coronavirus rips apart the American economy and ways of life — with some facing an existential crisis as the duration and severity of the pandemic and its aftermath remains unknown.
Just in the past few weeks, numerous local papers have folded, laid off staff or cut back operations as advertising — the foundation of papers’ revenue — has disappeared with the closures of local restaurants, bars, shops and event venues.
St. Louis’ Riverfront Times laid off nearly its entire staff last week because of dwindling advertising and a loss of revenue from now-canceled events. California’s Monterey County Weekly, meanwhile, laid off one-third of its staff. C&G Newspapers, a Michigan publishing group, suspended the publication of 19 of its print papers, while D.C.’s Metro Weekly and Las Vegas’ Gaming Today suspended their print editions. And Pennsylvania’s Trib Total Media laid off staffers and combined two Pittsburgh-area editions in what president Jennifer Bertetto called “a temporary adjustment in reaction to extraordinary circumstances.”
American newspaper giant Gannett, which owns USA Today, announced pay cuts and furloughs for reporters making over $38,000 last week. Vice Media, a digital outlet, cut staff workweeks to four days to save costs.
Representatives for the Times and the Post didn’t immediately return a request for comment on their advertising numbers or Trump’s specific call-outs. See his tweet below:
Advertising in the Failing New York Times is WAY down. Washington Post is not much better. I can’t say whether this is because they are Fake News sources of information, to a level that few can understand, or the Virus is just plain beating them up. Fake News is bad for America!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 6, 2020