Fox News and Donald Trump are reaching a detente at last; yesterday Megyn Kelly went to Trump Tower for an hour-long meeting she described as allowing “a chance to clear the air,” after which Trump went to the Fox offices to have lunch with network chief Roger Ailes. This comes after Kelly had the temerity to ask Trump about sexist remarks he had made in the past, which led him to unleash a months-long campaign of insults at her (The Donald doesn’t like to be challenged, especially by a woman).
The time had obviously come for Kelly to make nice, and more importantly, Fox needed to smooth over any conflict with Trump, given that he’s likely to be the Republican nominee for president soon.
Though Fox is a unique and complicated media outlet, this is a preview of what’s to come from many quarters on the right. People and organizations which have criticized and even attacked Trump, some in the harshest possible terms, will come around. They might not start praising him to the heavens, but they are going to join in the effort to get him elected. Because the alternative will be irrelevance, the last thing anyone in politics wants.
Let’s take, as a first example, our old friend Karl Rove. Politico reports today that while Rove has been criticizing Trump in public, behind the scenes he and American Crossroads, the super PAC he helped found, are telling donors that Trump can beat Hillary Clinton, so everyone needs to be prepared to get behind him. Now why might that be?
Consider that American Crossroads and its sister “charitable” organization Crossroads GPS are together the premier vehicle for rich Republicans to play in elections. In 2012, they spent $176 million on the campaign, more than any other group. If Trump is the nominee and American Crossroads said, “Forget about this election — we won’t support Trump,” where would that leave them? On the sidelines, with no role to play (at least in the presidential race), no contributions coming in, no salaries for their staff, no commissions for their consultants, and no influence. When there’s a presidential election going on, the last thing political players like them want is to be left out of the game.
American Crossroads goes after the big money, but there is a whole universe of operators and organizations who depend for their incomes on convincing conservatives that by handing over $20 or $50 or $100 they can fight today’s bête noir, whether it’s Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, and that with their contributions they can push back on social change and turn America back to the place it was when they were young. Once your name and address are on one of their lists, they’ll be bought and sold again and again, so you can be targeted with appeal after appeal for donations to do your part in fighting the good fight. It’s a gigantic grift — many of the organizations spend little on actual political work, and the contributions help line the pockets of the people who run them. In the last couple of years, even some conservatives have gotten uncomfortable with this gigantic grift. But too many people are getting a taste for it to be dismantled.
Even for those who aren’t just fleecing rank-and-file conservatives to get rich, Trump becoming the nominee (presuming that happens) changes the calculation, making attacking him no longer worthwhile. Those who have criticized him up to now will have to justify their change in tone, but with the specter of a Hillary Clinton presidency looming, it won’t be that difficult.
That applies even to those who have been most vociferous in their criticisms of Trump. He has been attacked in the strongest possible terms by numerous outlets of the conservative media, like National Review, the Weekly Standard, and the Wall Street Journal editorial page. That can partially be explained by the fact that they appeal to an elite conservative audience, the kind of people who are horrified by Trump and his supporters and would like to get back to a time when the rabble were brought along with more subtle appeals and genteel Republican officials focused on the truly important work of cutting capital gains taxes. While they might be hesitant to sing Trump’s praises too loudly given what they’ve said up to now, they’ll likely just ignore him (for the most part) and spend the summer and fall telling their readers why Hillary Clinton was spat from the very fires of hell to complete Barack Obama’s work of destroying America.
Fox News, on the other hand, has a more downscale audience, one that will want to hear not just about Clinton’s villainy, but also why Trump is a terrific guy who’s going to make America great. After all, if you’ve spent years watching Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, you’ve heard Trump’s arguments a thousand times: America is in decline, immigrants are destroying everything, black people need to shut up and pull up their pants, the white man can’t catch a break.
You can already watch fawning interviews of Trump on the network, but in the end, everyone — including Megyn Kelly — is going to have to get on board Trump’s train. When he’s the nominee, that’s what will be in the best interests of the network itself and the Republican Party, and Roger Ailes’ genius has always been his ability to serve both at the same time. And if Kelly doesn’t like it, she’ll have to get a job somewhere else.
By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, April 14, 2016
“Donald Trump And His Subversive Sense Of Humor”: A Man Who Views Assessments Of Women On Their Appearance
I used to have this poster in my office reflecting the timeless wisdom of a relief pitcher named Larry Andersen. Today he does Phillies radio broadcasts. A friend who’s a calligrapher made it for me.
“Hey, you’re only young once, but you can be immature forever.”
The poster got lost after we moved, and my wife doesn’t miss it. Possibly because it reflects an aspect of my personality she’s sometimes uneasy with: the part that helps me do a pretty good Donald Trump impression. The part that reflects my bygone youth in New Jersey, the Insult State.
The part that makes her laugh until I imitate Trump attacking Hillary Clinton as a woman The Donald would not want to see naked.
The accent, gestures, and exaggerated mugging all come easy. You’ve just got to imagine a chimpanzee with a trust fund. See, if he hadn’t inherited a couple of hundred million bucks from his old man, Trump would have ended up cheating used car buyers and standing around on New York street corners patting his groin and hooting at passing women with the other primates.
“Hey baby, I got a piece of candy for you. Right here in my pants.”
How Trump reacts to finishing second in Iowa remains to be seen. I’m guessing the minute he realizes he can’t bulldoze and bluff his way to the presidency, he’s gone. But at least he’s given us some laughs, more than you can say for most of them.
Which brings us to Trump’s big celebrity feud with Fox News head blonde Megyn Kelly. Has any victim of The Donald’s verbal assaults ever benefited more from his scorn?
Before the two tangled during the first GOP presidential debate, Kelly was best known among the cable channel’s audience of AARP All-Stars—a foot soldier in the annual “War on Christmas” who once indignantly assured viewers that Santa Claus is a white man. Also an imaginary man, but never mind.
Now thanks to Trump, she’s a name brand. It’ll be interesting to watch where the notoriety takes her. At 45, she’s probably too old to be the fourth Mrs. Trump, but wouldn’t that be an entertaining premise for a bad movie?
The feud began, as the world knows, when Kelly, an incisive interviewer, asked The Donald about his practice of calling women “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.” He tried to joke his way out of it, but Kelly doubled down, asking about the time he told a contestant on “Celebrity Apprentice” how cute she’d look on her knees.
A classic bully, Trump whined that Kelly was biased. “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever,” he told CNN.
He’s all chivalry, our Mr. Trump.
Bickering continued until The Donald tried to make Fox News drop Kelly as moderator of its next GOP debate, which he vowed to boycott unless he got his way. CEO Roger Ailes called his bluff. Refusing to show up now looks like a mistake after Iowa. Trump’s going to bully foreign leaders into submission, but a TV executive defied him and he’s afraid of a girl?
Not good for the brand.
Smarting, Trump then said he wouldn’t call Kelly a “bimbo” because it would be “politically incorrect.” That’s Republican-speak for refusing to call a spade a spade. (Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge. Know what they mean?)
Next he reposted some pinup shots of Kelly on Twitter: “Criticizes Trump for objectifying women. Poses like this in GQ magazine.”
I hesitate to admit that I laughed out loud. Low-cut negligee, “Hello, Sailor” look and all, Megyn didn’t much resemble Walter Cronkite.
Not that valuing women strictly as sexual objects was what Kelly complained about. But whatever else you can say about Trump, he’s got a subversive sense of humor.
I wonder if Mrs. Trump’s pre-nuptial agreement is fully vested. Because it’s hard to think that First Lady’s a role that would suit her. In some ways, the White House is the jewel of the federal penitentiary system.
Meanwhile, Washington Post reporter Janell Ross, seemingly not from New Jersey, asked some pertinent questions:
“Doesn’t the content of that tweet… strongly support the core theories behind the question that Kelly asked Trump in the very first debate? Is a man who seems to view assessments of women based largely or perhaps only on their appearance fit for the Oval Office in 2016? And, if he is, what are the political ramifications of putting him in office and giving him the bully pulpit?”
The correct answers are: yes, no, and more of the same.
But Melania can rest easy, because it’s not going to happen.
By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, February 3, 2016
Is NBC really responsible for the rise of Donald Trump?
On a recent edition of the progressive radio program Ring of Fire, hosts Mike Papantonio and Farron Cousins discussed the mainstream media’s role in fueling the momentum of the Trump campaign, and strongly suggested that NBC effectively laid the foundation for Trump potentially becoming the 45th president (relevant discussion begins at 5:58): https://youtu.be/-D35FkhmQVA
I’ve never watched an episode of The Apprentice, and I’ve never quite understood the appeal of that program, or reality television in general. (Don’t even get me started on President Obama and Running Wild with Bear Grylls, despite the climate-consciousness of the December 17 edition of that program.) I’m not quite sure that NBC can be blamed for, frankly, the gullibility of American television audiences. After all, those who wasted hours watching Trump’s antics on The Apprentice could have been reading books instead.
It’s too easy to blame NBC for the rise of Trump, just as it’s too easy to blame Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes. There has always been an element of American culture that embraces the low, the vulgar, the putrid and the perverse. Donald Trump and NBC did not create that culture; it was a pre-existing condition in America’s body.
That condition could be fatal. You have to think that, love for his brother notwithstanding, George W. Bush is secretly rooting for Trump to win the Republican nomination and the presidency, since four to eight years of a Trump administration could actually make the Bush years look better by comparison. Sure, future historians will say, Bush lied America into war, abandoned American citizens in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, tortured people, attacked LGBT civil rights and wrecked the United States economy, but at least he didn’t inspire de facto pogroms against Mexicans and Muslims!
It’s creepy to think about it, no? Reagan’s recklessness almost made Nixon look OK relative to Bonzo’s co-star. Dubya’s destructiveness almost inspired nostalgia for the “Morning in America” era. Now, if Trump becomes the 45th President, people will start forgetting the 43rd President’s flaws. Trump would, on some level, have the power to rewrite history.
It is often said that every President becomes a reflection of the era in which he governed. When we think back to the Nixon era, our minds recall the cynicism of the age; when we remember the Reagan era, we think of the “Greed Is Good” ethos; when we think of the Bush years, we recall a time of constant fear. Let’s say Trump serves one or two terms as President. What will we think of when we remember those years?
By: D. R. Tucker, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, December 27, 2015
“Fox News Created The Trump Monster”: The Billionaire Egoist Is The Creation Of The Network Now Trying To Destroy Him
Okay, so as I write these words, someone could be about to release a post-debate poll showing exactly what establishment Washington, which now apparently includes even Fox News (!), yearns to see a poll show—that Donald Trump has tumbled, and that the new leaders in the GOP field are the comparatively sober Jeb Bush and John Kasich, along with maybe Carly Fiorina, since everybody seems to be swooning over her now. Maybe it’ll happen.
But what in fact did happen is that we got this NBC News-Survey Monkey poll showing Trump still ahead and Ted Cruz and Ben Carson vaulting into second and third place, respectively. It’s an online poll, and I know we’re supposed to question its methodology (which the pollsters explain here, if you’re interested). So I’m not going to sit here and swear by it. But on Monday, two other post-debate polls came along showing that Trump is still going strong. So the results are interesting enough, and they track closely enough with other anecdotal evidence that’s made its way to my inbox, that it’s certainly worth asking: What if Trump is still clobbering the rest of the GOP field?
If he is, we’re at a very interesting politico-cultural moment: The moment when, to a sizeable portion of the GOP electorate, Fox News stopped being their warrior and instead became just another arm of the lamestream media. If that’s true, everything we’ve known and assumed about our political divide is now moot, and we’re flying totally blind. The Republican Party has unleashed furies it can no longer remotely control.
First, here are the numbers, if you haven’t seen them. Post-poll, Trump went to 23 percent, according to NBC. That’s actually a gain of one statistically insignificant point, but reflect on this: He gained that point even though poll respondents said by a huge margin that he lost the debate (29 percent called him the loser; next closest was Rand Paul at 14 percent). Ted Cruz gained seven points, going from 6 to 13 percent. Ben Carson gained three points, moving from 8 to 11 percent. Marco Rubio stayed flat at 8 percent, and Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, the other “first-tier” candidates, finished in the cellar, losing three points each.
So add it up. The Tasmanian Devil candidate who’s obviously tapping into deep right-wing anti-establishment anger and the two other most extreme candidates combine for 47 percent. The two who in my view you can reasonably call quasi- or comparatively moderate, Kasich and Bush, combine to hit 9 percent.
All right, though, enough on the polls. Maybe enough time hasn’t elapsed for Trump’s Megyn Kelly comments to truly sink in with the Republican electorate. But here’s the anecdotal materials that suggests he’s still on the rise. First, which candidates were most heavily Googled during the debate? Huh. What a coincidence. It was Trump, Carson, and Cruz. The biggest single Google moment by a mile came during Cruz’s first remarks (“If you’re looking for someone to go to Washington, to go along to get along, to get—to agree with the career politicians in both parties who get in bed with the lobbyists and special interests, then I ain’t your guy.”) Carson scored well while talking terrorism and during his close, and Trump throughout.
Here’s a little more. I was on Fox on Sunday, on Howard Kurtz’s show. Every time I finish that show, I have 30 or so tweets in my feed. Usually, the tweeters are angry at me, for the obvious reasons. But Sunday, they were mostly mad at The Blaze’s Amy Holmes for her robust defenses of Megyn Kelly and attacks on Trump. This tweet, while more polite than most, is representative of the argument. Trump isn’t perfect, but lay off him already. Fox screwed up. And most of all: Don’t tell us what to think!
We’re used to this kind of rhetoric when conservatives volley it in the direction of The New York Times and CNN. But what are we to make of it when the target is Fox?
Two things. First, if I’m right about this and other polls back all this up, this process is officially beyond anyone’s ability to predict. Ignore all “surely this will finally start Trump’s downfall” stories, and all positive Jeb! stories. And is Cruz soon-to-be first tier? I admit that I sure missed that. I didn’t think he registered a heartbeat in the debate. It’s hardly remarkable that I was wrong about something, but most commentators pretty much dismissed Cruz, too.
And Carson! It’s not like he comes out of nowhere. They’ve been selling his first book by the truckful in Christian bookstores for years, and for gosh sakes, Cuba Gooding Jr. played him in a movie. But normally that would translate into a respectable sixth or seventh place. If he’s really doing better than that, something important has changed. And don’t ignore what an extremist he is: In his more recent book, which I actually read, he sincerely questioned whether citizens who pay no net income tax should have the right to vote—“Serious problems arise when a person who pays nothing has the right to vote and determine what other people are paying.”
The second thing we’re to make of this is that Fox and the Republican Party have created this new reality. When you spend years nodding and winking and yuk-yuking about the President’s birth certificate, how can you be surprised when the guy who has repeatedly demanded to see it turns out to be really popular with your base? You promote a politics that attacks women not merely for having abortions but for wanting to use contraception, and then you’re shocked when your hard-shell voting base turns out not to be overly offended by remarks like Trump’s?
Indeed Roger Ailes recognized all this when he decided to make nice with Trump on Monday. In the first instance Ailes did it because Trump has leverage, and The Donald’s threat not to go on his air meant a heavy hit in the ratings department. Ailes was also certainly feeling the blowback from his core audience–the kinds of tweets I alluded to above. And beyond all that, somewhere deeper down, Ailes knows that Fox made Trump, politically, and that the two are made for each other.
The Republican Party and Fox permitted and encouraged Trumpian vitriol for years. All that talk over the years about birth certificates and Kenya and terrorist fist-jabs (remember that one?!) and the moocher class and the scary brown people and all the rest of it…all of it created a need for a Trump, and for other Trump-like candidates, to flourish. Now it threatens to overtake them. If they’re wondering who created Trumpism, I have someplace they can look. The mirror.
By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, August 12, 2015