Donald Trump’s tweet insulting Vanity Fair initially seemed like a distressingly ordinary example of the president-elect lashing out when he’s displeased by the media. But this time, Trump’s attack backfired and turned into a major boon for the glossy lifestyle magazine.
Trump tweeted Thursday that Vanity Fair was in “big trouble” with “really poor numbers.” (Actually, the circulation has increased in recent years.)
The outburst, likely provoked by a devastating review of Trump’s New York City steakhouse, sparked a surge in subscriptions 100-fold above a usual day, according to Poynter. That set a record for parent company Condé Nast for the most subscriptions any of its magazines has ever sold in a single day, a spokesperson told Poynter.
Vanity Fair routinely publishes stories critical of the president-elect, and publisher Graydon Carter has traded insults with Trump for decades.
But it appears an article by Tina Nguyen, titled “Trump Grill Could Be the Worst Restaurant in America,” rubbed him the wrong way this time. Apart from the unappetizing food, Nguyen mercilessly picks apart the restaurant’s décor, bathrooms, menus, waitstaff and the overall “cheap version of rich” aesthetic. It’s a thoroughly damning critique almost guaranteed to irritate the notoriously thin-skinned president-elect, or as Nguyen calls him, a “shallow, mediocre man.”
Vanity Fair capitalized on Trump’s attack with tongue-in-cheek ads on its website to subscribe to “the magazine Trump doesn’t want you to read.”
After Trump tweeted about the magazine, the steakhouse review received 1 million unique views, Vanity Fair told Folio Friday. Other Trump stories on the magazine’s website brought in more than 330,000 visitors, and Vanity Fair gained almost 10,000 new Twitter followers.
Vanity Fair did not immediately return a request for more details on subscriber numbers.
Many journalists have worried Trump’s administration may try to cripple First Amendment rights after he spent months on the campaign trail rallying supporters against the “dishonest media,” blacklisting outlets from his events and threatening to sue over critical articles. So far, however, he seems to be helping media companies’ bottom lines.
One of Trump’s favorite targets, The New York Times, has attracted an increase in subscribers despite Trump’s frequent tweets complaining about the paper. The Times gained more subscribers in the week following the election ― 41,000 ― than any week in the last five years.
The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and other print publications and news sites also have seen subscription bumps after the election.