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The Atlantic Is Hemorrhaging Money Post-Trump

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After the 2016 election, a flurry of reports noted Donald Trump’s election was breathing new life into our decaying media industry now that they had important work to do, in a quest to save America from tangerine-tinged fascism. Via NBC News, here’s an update on how that’s working out at one of America’s prestige publications:

Nicholas Thompson, the chief executive of The Atlantic, gave a presentation to employees last month in which he disclosed some uncomfortable truths about the state of the magazine.

Subscription growth, which had skyrocketed in 2020 thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic and the presidential election, had come back down to earth. For the first time, the number of subscribers had plateaued and started to slightly decline. And even with last year’s substantial surge, the magazine had lost more than $20 million and was on track to lose another $10 million this year, according to slides of the presentation shared with NBC News.

Left unsaid, of course, is how foregoing all sense of ethics, propriety, restraint, and good judgment possibly hurt their business model. Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg is no doubt still hunting down on-the-record sources for his anonymous report on Trump calling dead American soldiers “suckers” and “losers” after more than 20 people in the Trump administration publicly denied it.

Other notable highlights from last year include staff writer David Frum declaring last October, “The people on far right and far left who publicized the obviously bogus @nypost story were not dupes. They were accomplices. The story could not have been more obviously fake if it had been wearing dollar-store spectacles and attached plastic mustache.”

Of course, let’s not forget staff writer Adam Serwer’s new collection of Atlantic essays, “The Cruelty Is the Point: The Past, Present, and Future of Trump’s America,” which should be commended for its nuanced and… just kidding, Serwer’s book is about as subtle and accurate as performing LASIK with a chainsaw.

Anyway, it’s hard to say what exactly is going on behind the scenes at The Atlantic, but as someone who’s worked at three different political magazines — two of which

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