See the bait. See the mainstream media rising to the bait.
Donald Trump's chief lieutenants told skeptical Republican leaders Thursday that the GOP front-runner has been "projecting an image" so far in the 2016 primary season and "the part that he's been playing is now evolving" in a way that will improve his standing among general election voters.
The message, delivered behind closed doors in a private briefing, is part of the campaign's intensifying effort to convince party leaders Trump will moderate his tone in the coming months to help deliver big electoral gains this fall....
Donald J. Trump’s newly installed campaign chief sought to assure members of the Republican National Committee on Thursday night that Mr. Trump recognized the need to reshape his persona and that his campaign would begin working with the political establishment that he has scorned to great effect.
Trump’s chief strategist Paul Manafort told members of the Republican National Committee in a closed-door briefing here Thursday afternoon that his candidate has been playing a “part” on the campaign trail, but is starting to pivot toward presenting a more businesslike and presidential “persona.”
“He gets it,” Manafort told RNC members.
Outsider candidate Donald Trump sent emissaries to soothe tensions with the GOP's pre-eminent insiders Thursday, and tried to convince them that his bombastic demeanor is merely stagecraft, that his high negatives in the polls can be overcome, and that if he’s the nominee, he’ll raise money for the party and help the Republicans locally and nationally to win elections.
The Associated Press obtained a recording of the closed-door exchange.
Mr. Manafort’s comments ... were made behind closed doors, which were guarded by security. But a person in attendance taped the speech and shared the recording with The New York Times.
Oh, I'm sure this was a totally unauthorized leak.
There's some skepticism in these reports, but the message is that everything will be fine and dandy and just be politics as usual if Trump is the nominee, so the press doesn't haven't to do hand-wringing coverage about the hijacking of the Republican Party by a dangerous barbarian. (Even after all these months of Trump, much of the press still hasn't been able to bring itself to say that the rot is within the GOP and conservative movement, but never mind.)
The #NeverTrump movement, oddly, is playing right along with this, telling fellow conservatives who've fallen for Trump that Trump has never really been the guy they've cheered on for months. Erick Erickson:
... this is an admission against interest that Trump has been lying to the American people and his supporters.
Legal Insurrection's William Jacobson:
Trump is playing his core supporters, knows he can’t win a national election with his current message, and is planning to change characters mid-play to soothe the GOP elites he rails against to get you worked up....
Those of us who are not blinded by the light have tried to warn you.
The mainstream media started selling us the New Trump line after he was reasonably civil in his victory speech after the New York primary -- never mind the fact that the next day he was praising torture. Charlie Pierce wasn't fooled:
This will now be the pattern. He, Trump will campaign thuggishly. It will work. Then he will accept victory less thuggishly, and he will be congratulated for it. Then it all will start again, over and over, all the way to November.
Nor was Digby:
Since his victory speech didn’t include any crude epithets or mentions of his manly member, [the media] seemed to be under the impression that he’s a restrained and dignified statesman worthy of the presidency....
But the big rally in Indiana yesterday showed no changes in Trump’s usual meandering lunacy punctuated by cries of “build that wall” and “get ’em out!” He was back to “Lyin’ Ted” and “Crooked Hillary” and rambling bizarrely about General Patton getting rid of ISIS in three days. At times he was completely unhinged, going on about how he “loves” waterboarding and wants to kill oil truck drivers in Iraq. Everyone can rest easy.
... In other words, Trump is still Trump.
But they're exceptions. They're not really mainstream. They'll notice that this is still going on, and Trump is making no effort to stop it, but it doesn't fit the new narrative, so much of the rest of the press will say it has nothing to do with the nice presumptive nominee:
First it was an email warning Steve House, the Colorado GOP chairman, to hide his family members and “pray you make it to Cleveland.” Then there was the angry man who called his cell phone and told him to put a gun down his throat.
“He said, ‘I’ll call back in two minutes and if you’re still there, I’ll come over and help you’,” House recalled.
... In hotel hallways and across dinner tables, many party leaders attending this week’s meetings shared similar stories. One party chair says a Trump supporter recently got in his face and promised “bloodshed” if he didn’t win the GOP nomination. An Indiana delegate who criticized Trump received a note warning against “traditional burial” that ended with, “We are watching you.”
A political insider in an expensive suit is conveying the message that Trump is domesticated now. So that's what the mainstream press wants you to hear. The more you fall for this, the closer the race gets in November.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog