“We in the news media have thought for years that this gravy train is coming to an end. Donald Trump brought us better ratings than we ever thought we’d have by this time in 2020,” one cable-news host told me, adding that the president “has given many of us extended relevance, or new relevance.” Would a Biden presidency bring a ratings dip on cable? Could publications like the Times and the Washington Post see subscriptions slow to a trickle? How would daily news coverage, of which Trump has been the central figure, shift without him in power? In conversations with reporters, editors, and on-air talent just before Trump’s hospital stay, more than a few expressed hope that beats and stories that have gone dormant over the last four years could be resuscitated, and most were sanguine about the possibility of a post-Trump environment, even while acknowledging that they may have a less rapt audience. “If Trump loses,” said the host, “I think there’s a short-term drop from those people for whom television news was a life-and-death matter.”…

Baquet acknowledges that much of the Times’ readership probably does fall under the “resistance” rubric—“I suspect a lot of our readers are opposed to Trump,” he told me—and there is no denying that opposition to Trump has delivered a windfall to the Times and other news organizations. Trump’s relentless cries of “fake news” have been met with veneration for the same outlets he ridicules, even as the press has struggled to figure out how to cover him. “I think early on we probably tried to attach our traditional rules of coverage, our traditional norms, to Donald Trump—and he defied them,” Baquet said. “The American press covers extensively when the president of the United States briefs and makes comments about issues, but you have to cover it very differently when the president of the United States obfuscates and often misleads people and sometimes lies.”