... On a range of issues, [Donald] Trump seems to be taking a page from the Sanders playbook, expressing a willingness to increase the minimum wage, suggesting that the wealthy may pay higher taxes than under his original proposal, attacking Mrs. Clinton from the left on national security and Wall Street, and making clear that his opposition to free trade will be a centerpiece of his general election campaign.On free trade and protectionism, yes, there's truth in this. On the minimum wage and taxes, the evidence is that a few offhand populist remarks Trump made at one time are seared into Parker's and Martin's consciousness, while assertions Trump has made that contradict the "billionaire populist" narrative -- such as those in his economic plan -- are simply ignored.
As Mr. Trump lays the groundwork for his likely showdown with Mrs. Clinton, he is staking out a series of populist positions that could help him woo working-class Democrats in November....
Bob Somerby used to say that mainstream journalists settle on "a story they like," a story they'll tell whether or not it's true, because they want it to be true. This year, that story is "Trump is a champion of ordinary Americans." It doesn't matter that Trump's actual tax plan is drastically skewed toward the rich, as the Tax Policy Center has noted.
(The Trump campaign recently said that this plan might be modified, then backtracked and said, no, it won't be changed.)
And it doesn't matter that Trump has said that "wages [are] too high" in America, or, just this past week, that states should set minimum wages, with no federal minimum (imagine that in the Deep South, or in Koch-controlled states like Kansas). The Trump campaign wants moderate and liberal (and Sanders-style progressive) voters to believe he's a populist; Parker and Martin are more than happy to take the campaign's dictation and type up Trump spin.
Deep in the story, Parker and Martin finally acknowledge that Trump isn't always Sanders-like -- but they portray this as "flexibility," not mendacity:
And even when he has hit Mrs. Clinton from the left, he has also shown a flexibility that has positioned him on both sides of some issues. He has called for a higher minimum wage, for instance, but has also said the issue should be left to the states rather than have a federal increase. On foreign policy, too, his cautious approach to nation-building and intervention has been juxtaposed by bellicose remarks and a promise to be tougher on Iran and the Islamic State.This is said to be a problem only because Trump is alienating Republican insiders -- and it's awfully nice of Parker and Martin to say that, because "Trump is alienating Republican insiders" is precisely the message his campaign wants to send to Democrats and independents (and even some Republicans, who regularly tell pollsters that they're disgusted with their own party).
Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, said that questions about Mr. Trump’s core beliefs were ”a significant concern.”This is a recurring motif in the story:
“He needs to articulate deeper convictions on the issues that matter so much to conservatives,” said Mr. King, a hard-liner.
... [Trump] is exacerbating the trepidation some Republicans already feel about his candidacy at a moment when the party typically rallies to its nominee.The story also uncritically retransmits Trump spin about Electoral College strategy:
Asked how Mr. Trump could reassure his own party, Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, suggested the party standard-bearer needed something close to a complete overhaul. “He could start by saying, ‘I was just kidding,’ ” Mr. Flake said, bemoaning what he called Mr. Trump’s “protectionist” approach.
But Mr. Trump, who has also made attacks on illegal immigrants central to his campaign while vowing to protect Social Security and Medicare, is plainly going to run as more of a Sanders-style populist than as a conservative. And this approach suggests that the 2016 campaign will not be decided in the increasingly diverse states that represent the face of a changing nation -- Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Virginia -- but in the more heavily white Rust Belt, where blaming trade deals for manufacturing job losses provided resonant themes for Mr. Trump and Mr. Sanders during the primaries there.How does that suggest that the race won't be decided in diverse states? Trump is still offending non-white voters, who remain among Hillary Clinton's most enthusiastic supporters. His racism combined with his alienation of moderate Republican women could put some previously red states in play. Or maybe both things are true.
But even math doesn't matter to Parker and Martin:
If by abandoning the traditional Republican playbook Mr. Trump were to put Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in the Republican column, as some of his aides suggested, he would swing 46 electoral votes from states that have voted for Democratic presidential candidates since the 1980s.Um, you guys know that if 46 electoral votes swung from Barack Obama to Mitt Romney in 2012 or John McCain in 2008, Obama still would have won -- right?
Donald Trump is not Bernie Sanders. Donald Trump is not a left-wing progressive. But if the press persuades moderate and liberal voters that he is, the race will be close and he might win. A dangerous demagogue is lying to us in order to get elected, and Parker and Martin are helping him do it.