"Weaponizing ratings slips has become a hallmark of Trump-era Republicans, who routinely blame low viewership on the athletes and leagues that speak out about social issues," says Ben Strauss. "This year’s historically bad NBA playoffs viewership — The Finals fell about 50 percent from last season — were gleefully noted by President Trump and across conservative media, from Fox News’s Laura Ingraham to the Daily Wire to Breitbart. Their rallying cry: 'Get woke, go broke.' But viewership of major sporting events is down across the board, including in leagues with no social-justice messaging to speak of. According to data compiled by the website Sports Media Watch, Golf’s U.S. Open was down 42 percent. The Kentucky Derby: 43 percent. The Stanley Cup finals: 61 percent. The vaunted NFL is down 13 percent early in its season. Major League Baseball’s division series was down 40 percent. A World Series between, potentially, Atlanta and Tampa Bay isn’t likely to change the tide. Several factors are fueling the drop, according to viewership data and interviews with TV executives and industry observers: the intensity of the political news cycle; a glut of sports on TV; and viewers’ lives being upended by the global pandemic. A new survey shows that some Republicans say they’re tuning out over social-justice messaging. But the data tells a different story."