The Huffington Post is looking to President Donald Trump’s base for new readership, an odd reversal considering the tidal wave of anti-Trump coverage that plastered the site over the last 18 months.
The site ran front-page headlines calling Trump a “Racist, Sexist, Xenophobic Demagogue” with the hashtag #wtfgop.
New editor in chief Lydia Polgreen, 41, is already taking steps to push the left-leaning outlet back toward the political center.
“When Arianna Huffington founded HuffPost in 2005, it was an answer to the Drudge Report and a bulwark against an ascendant Republican president beginning his second term,” Polgreen told HuffPo staff in January. “Today, we live in very different times. The old ideological dividing lines seem irrelevant and inimical to our journalistic mission. The question we must ask ourselves is this: Who are we for?”
Polgreen is going to have a tough time getting Trump voters to look HuffPo’s way. The site — which Polgreen said she wanted “a lot of people who voted for Donald Trump” to read — consistently attacked him throughout the primaries, general election and after the inauguration.
When Trump was still fighting in the Republican presidential primary, Huffington published a piece explaining why her website was going to cover Trump in its entertainment section.
The site covered news of Trump supporters attacking people, but rarely reported on the times Trump’s base was attacked. If HuffPo did report on it, it would be hedged by pointing the blame at the very Trump voters who were attacked.
It promoted liberal advocacy in its news articles by including petitions readers could sign. HuffPo’s Washington bureau chief, Ryan Grim, told The Daily Caller’s Alex Pfeiffer in December they are “straightforward about what our values are.” (RELATED: Huffington Post Defends Advocacy In News Stories)
A HuffPo contributor published a Trump conspiracy piece the site later deleted alleging former Secretary of State Colin Powell could become president.
Polgreen pushed her reporters to be more open and welcoming of potential new reads in her January staff message: “We must listen with empathy and openness to our audience, and invite those who are not in our audience to engage with us, to guide our journalism. That is how we can build a deep relationship based on mutual trust and understanding. It is how we get beyond our filter bubbles and serve everyone.”
HuffPo’s ad revenue dropped significantly in 2015, from 46 percent year-over-year growth down to 15 percent. Its mobile website and desktop traffic have both fallen. From May 2015 to April 2016, according to Business Insider, online traffic fell a massive 71 percent.
A Huffington Post spokeswoman disputed the drop in traffic as “outdated” and “incorrect” to The Daily Caller News Foundation, saying online traffic is up. “Our traffic is actually up 2.4% YoY [year-over-year]. In November 2015, we had 190M global multi-platform UVs [unique visitors] according to comScore and in November 2016, we had 195M.”
ComScore is a cross-platform measurement company that provides data analytics and other metric information. Business Insider received its data from SimilarWeb, a digital marketing company that provides website traffic and data analytics.
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