“If in 96 days Trump loses this election, I am pointing the finger directly at people like [House Speaker] Paul Ryan and [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham and John McCain and John Kasich and Ted Cruz — if he won’t endorse — and Jeb Bush and everybody else that made promises they’re not keeping,” Hannity exclaimed, later threatening to endorse Ryan’s far-right primary challenger.
.. In fact, throughout the election season, it has appeared that Republicans have fielded more attacks from their supposed friends on the right than their political opponents on the left.
.. “The analogy that I think of is somebody who has a baby alligator in their bathtub and they keep feeding it and taking care of it,” said Charlie Sykes, a popular conservative talk show host in Wisconsin. “And it’s really cute when it’s a baby alligator — until it becomes a grown-up alligator and comes out and starts biting you.”
.. three key forces: Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and Matt Drudge.
.. Simultaneously, the conservative news media sought to lock in its audience by characterizing the mainstream press as an industry comprising dishonest liberals — something with which the GOP was more than happy to go along.
.. “What it became, essentially, was they were preaching this is the only place you can get news. This is the only place you can trust. All other media outlets are lying to you. So you need to come to us,”
.. To avoid being called a RINO (Republican in name only), a Republican would have to take a hardline conservative position on nearly every issue. If, say, they were to hold conservative positions on 90% of the issues, the conservative press would focus on the 10% where there was disagreement.
.. only one candidate could be conservative enough to support for president: Cruz.
.. But something went awry. The most aggressive right-wing members of the conservative press — the members who constantly lambasted certain Republicans for not toeing the hard-right line on every issue — got behind perhaps the most unlikely candidate of all: Donald Trump.
.. “We have reached the bizarro-world point where, for all intents and purposes, conservatives are RINOs,” said John Ziegler, a nationally syndicated conservative talk show host who called Andrew Breitbart a friend. “There is no place now for real conservatives. We’ve also reached the point, I say, we’ve left the gravitational pull of the rational Earth, where we are now in a situation where facts don’t matter, truth doesn’t matter, logic doesn’t matter.”
.. “You look at someone who a few cycles might have been derided as a right-wing lunatic, now they aren’t conservative enough,”
.. he believed some conservative pundits were “just drawn to Trump’s style more than policies.”
.. “I think that some of them just like Trump and were willing to cut him some slack on his shifting of positions because he’s a fighter and they like that,”
.. Ratings may have also played a role, according to conservative talkers who refused to jump aboard the Trump train.
.. Hannity in particular has faced criticism from some colleagues in the conservative-media sphere who allege he has been too cozy with Trump. Ziegler, the conservative radio host, said there’s “there’s no question” a “monetary element” drove coverage overall.
.. “Hannity is desperate for every ratings crumb on the Fox News Channel. … It’s all about ratings,” he said. “Hannity is not particularly talented, he’s not a smart guy — he used to just be a Republican talking points talk show host who happened to be in the right place at the right time. So he’s very vulnerable at any time.
.. while there are other outlets that belong to the conservative media apparatus, they lack the influence of the hard right. The National Review or Weekly Standard might earn the eyeballs of elites in Washington, but those in the heartland seem to prefer the style of the more aggressive pro-Trump outlets.
.. That has left conservatives who oppose Trump in a tricky position when trying to get their message to supporters. No longer can Ryan or Cruz turn to Hannity for a softball interview. They can’t work with Breitbart or rely on Drudge to help with their legislative agenda.
These Republicans have effectively been exiled from the conservative news media
.. “We have taught conservatives for many years to trust nothing other than what they hear in conservative media. Yet the conservative media has now proven to be untrustworthy.”
It also announced that President Trump was nominating the White House physician to head the Department of Veterans Affairs. What do these announcements have in common?
The answer is that both are indicators of how Trump views his job. He doesn’t seem to see actual policymaking as important; instead, he treats it all as an exercise in reality TV.
.. The point, instead, is that running veterans’ health is a management, not medical, job — and Jackson has no managerial experience.
.. Once you start looking at the Trump administration as an exercise in publicity, not policy, you see signs of it everywhere.
.. Larry Kudlow to replace Gary Cohn in that role, Kudlow’s remarkable track record on the economy — he’s been wrong about everything
.. nothing in Kudlow’s role as a shouting head on cable TV has prepared him for the job he’s supposed to do.
.. So Trump is acting as if his job were to run up ratings for his TV show, not to make actual policies.
.. Wall Street had a big relief rally when investors tentatively concluded that Trump wants to only play at trade war, and can be bought off with symbolic wins that change nothing real.
.. Trump hasn’t managed to repeal Obamacare, but his officials have undermined the program’s efficiency, driving up premiums and reducing coverage.
.. if and when America needs real leadership, there will be nobody home.
.. So far, the Trump era has been almost free from crises Trump didn’t generate himself. One of the few such events demanding an effective response was Hurricane Maria — and the response was disastrously inadequate.
.. So what happens if there’s a foreign policy crisis, a financial crisis, a health crisis
.. we’ll need actual policies. And who’s going to devise those policies? Lincoln had a team of rivals; Trump has assembled a team of poseurs.
.. And even if Trump should come to realize he needs better people, he probably couldn’t get them.
.. Trump can’t even hire good lawyers!
.. one of these days, the reality TV administration is going to bump up against actual reality. And it’s not going to end well.
Nine months into his first term, President Trump is perfecting a style of leadership commensurate with his campaign promise to disrupt business as usual in Washington. Call it governing by cattle prod.
.. In the face of his own unhappiness, the president is trying to raise the pain level wherever he can.
.. He cares about ratings, praise and success. Absent demonstrable achievements, he reverts to what worked during the campaign, which is to depend on his own instincts and to touch the hot buttons that roused his voters in 2016. As president, he has never tried seriously to reach beyond that base.
.. Trump has managed to turn an issue that once was about police violence in minority communities into a cultural battle about patriotism, the flag and pride in the military. His critics are now on the defensive.
.. There’s little doubt that part of the president’s motivation is to undo what former president Barack Obama did. He campaigned against Obamacare, although his prescriptions for what should replace it lacked consistency or, for that matter, clear alternatives
.. he has decided to force Congress to act on whether to fund the insurance subsidies that help lower-income Americans purchase health insurance. That’s another way he’s trying to bring the Democrats to the table,
.. Trump is trying to ratchet up attention to those problems but by threatening to walk away from the nuclear agreement has created a rift with U.S. partners
.. Foreign policy experts worry that by opening up a new confrontation with Iran, the administration may be stretching its capacity to handle both matters with the patience, skill and delicacy they require.
.. The president has proved himself capable and willing to start controversies and policy confrontations. That’s what being a disrupter is all about. But there is more to the presidency than initiating conflict, and on that measure, Trump has much to prove.
Mr. Trump’s West Wing has always seemed to be the crossroads between cutthroat politics and television drama, presided over by a seasoned showman who has made a career of keeping the audience engaged and coming back for more. Obsessed by ratings and always on the hunt for new story lines, Mr. Trump leaves the characters on edge, none of them ever really certain whether they might soon be voted off the island.
“Absolutely, I see those techniques playing out,” said Laurie Ouellette, a communications professor at the University of Minnesota who has studied reality television extensively. “Reality TV is known for its humiliation tactics and its aggressive showmanship and also the idea that either you’re in or you’re out, with momentum building to the final decision on who stays and who goes.”
.. dismissed Mr. Corker on Tuesday by mocking his height and suggesting he had somehow been conned. “The Failing @nytimes set Liddle’ Bob Corker up by recording his conversation,” Mr. Trump wrote. “Was made to sound a fool, and that’s what I am dealing with!”
.. Mr. Trump later denied that he had demeaned his secretary of state. “I didn’t undercut anybody. I don’t believe in undercutting people,” he told reporters, in a comment that must have amused the many people he has undercut since taking office.
.. “With Jemele Hill at the mike, it is no wonder ESPN ratings have ‘tanked,’ in fact, tanked so badly it is the talk of the industry!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter.
.. Andy Cohen, the creator of the “Real Housewives” reality television show franchise, found that too rich. “This is actually happening,” he wrote on Twitter. “All the wives are fighting. Even I AM SPEECHLESS.”
.. This has exceeded what would have been allowed on ‘The Apprentice,’” she said. “It’s almost a magnification. It’s like reality TV unleashed. Yes, he was good at it, but I always felt like he had to be reined in in order not to mess up the formula. Here, he doesn’t have that same sort of constraint.”