For solace and solidarity in the Trump age, liberals turn the TV back on

Left-leaning MSNBC, after flailing at the end of the Obama years, has edged CNN in prime time. Stephen Colbert’s openly anti-Trump “Late Show” is beating Jimmy Fallon’s “Tonight” for the first time. Bill Maher’s HBO flock has grown nearly 50 percent since last year’s presidential primaries, and “The Daily Show” has registered its best ratings since Jon Stewart left in 2015.

Traditional television, a medium considered so last century, has watched audiences drift away for the better part of a decade. Now rattled liberals are surging back, seeking catharsis, solidarity and relief.

“When Obama was in office, I felt like things were going O.K.,” Jerry Brumleve, 58, a retiree from Louisville, Ky., said last week as he stood in line for a “Daily Show” taping in Manhattan.

These days, he is a newfound devotee of Rachel Maddow of MSNBC — “She’s always talking about the Russians!” his wife, Yvonne, chimed in — and believes Mr. Stewart’s successor, Trevor Noah, has finally “hit his stride.”…

“There’s definitely a sense of we’re-in-this-together-ness,” Mr. Noah said in an interview, noting that Mr. Trump’s election had infused his show with a new sense of purpose.