Thursday, May 05, 2016


Vox's David Roberts and Republican hack consultant Ed Rollins probably haven't agreed on many things over the years, but today they agree that the media will do everything in its power to ensure that a Donald Trump-Hillary Clinton race remains close.

... the selfish interest of the news media demands there be a close race. So for the next few months, the media will ensure the race stays competitive and will sustain wall-to-wall coverage of every insult and barb. Much of the media will do Trump’s work for him by simply repeating what he says. He knows how to effectively leverage the media.

... The media likes the bile and blood that spews from the Trump campaign, and they will help spread it around. The sooner the race becomes “Shouting Hillary” vs. “Insulting Trump,” the more the media will like it.
The campaign press requires, for its ongoing health and advertising revenue, a real race. It needs controversies. "Donald Trump is not fit to be president" may be the accurate answer to pretty much every relevant question about the race, but it's not an interesting answer. It's too final, too settled. No one wants to click on it.

What's more, the campaign media's self-image is built on not being partisan, which precludes adjudicating political disputes. How does that even work if one side is offering up a flawed centrist and the other is offering up a vulgar xenophobic demagogue?

... It's true that the media has been uncharacteristically blunt in its criticism of Trump during the primary, mainly because almost every source it considers legitimate hates Trump, including the Republican establishment. To date, the anti-Trump position has been safely inside the Washington consensus.

That will change once the GOP apparatus inevitably swings around behind Trump and begins accusing journalists who write critical stories of bias. If there's one thing the GOP apparatus knows how to do, it's ensure that there's always another side, that reporters get smacked every time they move past "one hand, other hand" coverage.

... Trump's obvious unfitness for office -- today widely acknowledged across both parties and in the mainstream media -- will become a partisan observation, something Democrats say.
But what if it doesn't work? Rollins thinks a barrage of Trump attacks might catch Clinton flat-footed:
We can only imagine the outrageous insults and taunts Trump will lob at Clinton, her surrogates, her staff, her contributors, her family and her sympathizers. Nothing and nobody is off-limits, and everybody will tune in to hear the latest. Will Clinton and crew respond in kind? Respond at all? Wait? Wait until when? Before the convention? After the convention? October?
Um, no, Clinton's not waiting -- she just released this:

Which is a follow-up to this:

So she's not complacent about Trump, and she's not waiting to be attacked, which distinguishes her from ... um, the entirety of Rollins's Republican Party from summer 2015 until maybe a month or two ago, when it was too late.

But if the Clinton campaign is successful in combating not only Trump but the media's bias in favor of a balanced, Both Sides Do It contest, maybe Trump really will fail as decisively as polls now predict he will. In which case, the media will work hand in glove with the Republican establishment to salvage the credibility of the GOP (and, in the bargain, its congressional majorities).

I've told you that much media attention will be focused on that nice Boy Scout Paul Ryan -- and, well, what do you know? Here's a Politico headline now:
Hill GOP braces for Trump

Republicans are reckoning with the top of their fall ticket -- but some would rather focus on Paul Ryan's agenda.
Ryan's agenda! His glorious agenda! That's some of what the press will try to distract us with if Trump can't get traction.

And if not Trump, then maybe Nebraska senator Ben Sasse, who's getting a lot of press for going all Third Way on us, in a transparently phony Frank Capra way:
The day after Donald Trump assumed the role of his party's presumptive presidential nominee, Republican Sen. Ben Sasse walked into a Wal-Mart in his hometown of Fremont, Nebraska, and got an earful from his constituents.

Long story short: They're angry.

In a nearly 1,500-word Facebook post published early Thursday morning, the freshman senator laid out his argument for a one-term, problem-solver candidate after a 10-part breakdown of how he thought the country had arrived at this moment, with a general election looming between Trump (whom he has opposed for months) and Hillary Clinton.

"Why shouldn’t America draft an honest leader who will focus on 70% solutions for the next four years? You adult?" Sasse wrote.
The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin is practically begging Sasse to run for president third-party, but through a spokesman he tells Rubin that he won't do it:
“Senator Sasse has been clear when asked before: he has three little kids and the only callings he wants -- raising them and serving Nebraskans.”
That's some serious smarm. This guy's got a bright future.

All of this coincides with a concerted effort on the part of right-wing donors to save Congress for the GOP, as noted by CNN:
A substantial number of big-money Republican donors have spent the last few months either actively spending against Donald Trump or sitting on the sidelines, frustrated with their options in the presidential race.

Now, facing the reality of a Trump victory, they may take their money down-ballot to help Republicans in House and Senate races.

Art Pope, a former Marco Rubio donor and ally of the heavy-spending Koch brothers, said he will not support Trump and would spend elsewhere.

"Because I think Donald Trump's policies will harm America, I think it's more important to support conservative Republican candidates running for Congress and positions across America," Pope said Wednesday in an interview with CNN. "I would encourage everyone, starting with the voters, to pay very close attention to the down-ticket ballots, I think that's absolutely crucial."
And, a couple of weeks ago, by Time:
... when you ask Republicans in Congress these days if they prefer Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, ... there is a good chance they will answer with a third name: Haley Barbour. What does the former Republican National Committee chairman and power lobbyist who took a turn as Mississippi Governor have to do with the 2016 presidential election? Embattled Senators and Congressmen are holding him up as Example A of how they’d like to see the 2016 election go.

As RNC chief in 1996, Barbour bucked Bob Dole -- ostensibly the head of the party as its White House nominee -- and pulled funding from the presidential contest to funnel it to down-ballot races. Dole lost to Bill Clinton, but Republicans ended up gaining two seats in the Senate and maintaining a majority in the House.
Trump will be compelling television, but his numbers may never be good enough for the media to preserve the appearance of a competitive election. So the press will tout Ryan and Sasse and the rest of the Republican congressional delegation -- and maybe try to make them into pseudo-opponents of Clinton. That will be "respectable" television focusing on "respectable" Republicans. And then the media will return us to our regularly scheduled mud-wrestling.


AND: Can the GOP's congressional majorities be saved? I went to this post at Right Wing News, which promised evidence of an anti-GOP backlash from conservative Trump-haters. Note the text in the tweet below from one of the disillusioned:

Yeah, the downballot GOP will probably be fine.


Victor said...

Let's just wait and see who tRUMP picks as his VP.

I'm sure our media will swoon like they did when R-Money picked "Privatizing" Ryan!

We'll be in for at least a month of headlines about hoe tRUMP's pick proves his political gravitas.

This will be the new ugliest election in history - until the next one, that is...

Paging Senator (and traitor) Tom Cotton...

Jeffery said...

You mean Trump is already going into reruns until November? I think 'Merica will tune out.

KenRight said...

An antidote to all the Liberal Elitists who make assumptions based on the premise.