- In recent weeks, President Donald Trump has stepped up his media appearances and launched a series of wild tweetstorms.
- During a live phone interview with Fox News on Sunday, the host seemed to have a hard time getting Trump to hang up.
- Experts say Trump fatigue may be setting in, with the public hardened to the constant stream of controversy generated by the president.
- Google Trends data shows search interest in the president’s name hovering at its lowest level in years, as a series of Democratic challengers begin their 2020 campaigns.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
In the battle for ratings, Fox News is usually is keen to push its exclusive interviews with President Donald Trump as he takes time from his schedule to talk to its hosts.
But on Fox’s “Sunday Morning” breakfast show this week, the anchor Maria Bartiromo seemed to have trouble getting the president to hang up the phone.
At least five times Bartiromo tried to end the interview and cut to a commercial break, while the president railed against familiar targets like former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (a “dummy”), the news media, and the “deep state.”
You can watch the end of the interview, posted by the Vox writer Aaron Rupar, here:
LOL — @MariaBartiromo desperately tried to wrap up her phone interview with Trump, but Trump refused to stop talking about "cleaning the swamp" and how Clapper is "a dumb guy." pic.twitter.com/z1NrlTHw7d
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 29, 2019
For the first time since he became president, Trump appears to be chasing the news media more than it is chasing him – especially as his rivals for the presidency in 2020 eat up airtime with their early campaigns.
Search data also appears to show that the public too is tuning out of Trump.
In recent weeks the president has stepped up his media appearances. On Fox News, his favoured network, Trump has given interviews three times in the past week alone.
And on Wednesday morning he unleashed a tweetstorm of more than 60 messages, a mix of his own attacks on the Russia investigation and retweets of supportive messages from other users.
But an increase in the kind of behaviour that has gotten Trump attention before seems to be yielding diminishing returns.
Figures from Google search patterns and TV ratings indicate that public interest in the ratings-obsessed Trump is on a downward trend.
“Trump has dominated all of the media for several years, so maybe there is a sense of him starting to outstay his welcome, in terms of people paying attention to him,” Tobe Berkovitz, a Boston University professor who is an expert in political communications, told The Hill in April.
Public Google data also indicates steadily declining interest in the president since he took power.
The graph below shows search intensity for the word “Trump.” The chart begins one month after Trump’s inauguration, which saw a dramatic spike.
Since then it has been on a downward track, with spikes during key controversies, including his firing of FBI Director James Comey in May 2017 and the government shutdown in late 2018.
Early April saw interest in Trump’s name dip to a low for his presidency, about a third of its level in February 2017. It has stayed around that point since.
Data also shows that Trump’s capacity to grab attention on Twitter may also in decline.
Data for Trump’s “interaction rate” – how likely users are to like, retweet, or reply to his posts – dropped to 0.21% in the past year, according to data crunched by Australia’s ABC News.
The figure is less than half the 0.51% he commanded around the time he won the 2016 election.
The waning interest in Trump creates an opportunity for Trump’s Democratic rivals to steal some of the limelight from the president as they begin their 2020 campaigns.
In ABC’s Twitter-interaction rankings, Democrats far outstripped Trump’s interaction rate, with Pete Buttigieg getting 3.74%, Joe Biden getting 2.58%, and Kamala Harris getting 0.52%.
A series of high-profile 2020 announcements have garnered significant airtime and attention, prompting Trump to start complaining about Fox News hosting too many Democratic candidates on its shows.
Experts say, though, that despite the lull, Trump’s media profile still far exceeds that of his rivals.
Trump’s name was the 10th-most-popular keyword on Google globally last year, according to the keyword research tool Ahrefs, and he was the only political figure to feature on the list.
“You have a president who is going to be live-tweeting the opposite party’s primary – you better believe when anything happens in the Democratic race, he will have a comment,” David Axelrod, the former chief strategist to President Barack Obama, said during a CNN interview in April.
“He will advance a meme like this and Democrats are going to have to figure out how to deal with it.”