At The Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein makes a startling discovery: Donald Trump will probably run for reelection by playing to his base.
In his marathon speech to a gathering of conservative activists last weekend, Donald Trump ... may have synthesized the essence of his reelection strategy in just three words toward the back end of his two-hour harangue: “I’ll protect you.”
... That dark and martial message shows that Trump continues to prioritize energizing his core supporters—blue-collar, older, and nonurban whites uneasy about demographic, cultural, and economic change—even at the price of further alienating voters dismayed or disgusted by his behavior as president. It also shows that, even as an incumbent, Trump is drawn far more toward running on fear than on hope.
"Trump continues to prioritize energizing his core supporters"? Gosh, and I was so certain he intended to reach out to suburban women, millennials, and non-whites! "Trump is drawn far more toward running on fear than on hope"? Who knew!
Here's another shocker:
As a preview of 2020, Trump’s CPAC speech once again showed how closely he is likely to echo the central arguments of conservative populists, from Joseph McCarthy to George Wallace to Pat Buchanan.
Trump didn’t define “the American way of life” in his speech, but he’s left little doubt that he identifies it with the attributes of his own followers: overwhelmingly white and Christian and mostly living outside major cities.
And just in case you were so gobsmacked the first time Brownstein said this that you couldn't quite take it in, he repeats himself:
Trump’s disjointed, angry, boastful, vulgar, and divisive speech at CPAC was the clearest indication yet that he remains almost entirely uninterested in reaching out to the groups resisting him.
If that's not enough insight for one day, let's turn to The Washington Post's Margaret Sullivan, who wants to point out something truly alarming: Fox News is really, really bad.
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It’s time — high time — to take Fox News’s destructive role in America seriously
... The network ... specializes in fearmongering and unrelenting alarmism. Remember “the caravan”?
At crucial times, it does not observe basic standards of journalistic practice: as with its eventually retracted, false reporting in 2017 on Seth Rich, which fueled conspiracy theories that Hillary Clinton had the former Democratic National Committee staffer killed because he was a source of campaign leaks.
Fox, you might recall, was a welcoming haven for “birtherism” — the racist lies about President Barack Obama’s birthplace. For years, it has constantly, unfairly and inaccurately bashed Hillary Clinton.
... What Fox News has become is destructive. To state the obvious: Democracy, if it’s going to function, needs to be based on a shared set of facts, and the news media’s role is to seek out and deliver those facts.
Most news organizations take that seriously, though they may flounder badly at times. When they do, they generally try to correct themselves — that’s why you see editor’s notes, lengthy corrections, on-air acknowledgments, suspensions and even firings of errant news people.
Not at Fox News.
... everyone ought to see it for what it is: Not a normal news organization with inevitable screw-ups, flaws and commercial interests, which sometimes fail to serve the public interest.
But a shameless propaganda outfit, which makes billions of dollars a year as it chips away at the core democratic values we ought to hold dear: truth, accountability and the rule of law.
Sullivan acknowledges that "Anyone who was paying the slightest bit of attention knew all of this long before Jane Mayer’s 11,000-word investigation in the New Yorker magazine was published a few days ago." But I don't recall hearing this from her before.
Don't get me wrong, it's a fine article. Go read it if you like. But it is also maddening in that it is the one millionth example of someone in the "respectable" media finally, breathlessly reporting something that we dirty hippies have been saying for literally decades....
From me, back in 2010:
...Fox News is not a news organization. It is -- quite openly and unapologetically -- the propaganda wing of the American fascist movement.
It is performance art on a global scale, designed to constantly push-push-push a radical political agenda and lie to the American people by extruding a hard-right-flavored news-looking product 24/7/365 directly into the skulls of the Republican Base.
Think about that for a minute: every single fucking day, the agenda for the entire media-political-economic engine of the last superpower on Earth is prodded along by a single corporation dedicated to perpetrating one, massive, toxic lie after another.
And everybody knows it.
That's the thing. That's what makes it so sickening; the simple, observable fact that, deep down, the Big Murdoch Lie Machine really fools no one at all but hardcore meatsticks of the Republican Party base.
Alas, everybody doesn't know it, and some people who say they've known it for a while have rarely if ever acknowledged it. The Murdoch machine is fooling plenty of people -- not Sullivan, maybe, but certainly the readers she's addressing, and the media colleagues who still believe that the Democratic Party's decision to cancel a Fox News debate was an undeserved slight.
And it may have finally dawned on Ronald Brownstein that Trump will pursue a base-only strategy in the 2020 campaign, but I guarantee that many A-list pundits still believe Trump's future might include a pivot to "expanding his base" and "being presidential"
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog