Trump sounds just like a right-wing talk-radio host

Talk radio has President Trump’s back. “Where does it say in the Constitution that if Washington’s establishment doesn’t like the results of a presidential election, they get to do whatever they want to do to overturn them?” asked the broadcast king, Rush Limbaugh, after the House formalized its impeachment inquiry in October. “They have been trying to get rid of Donald Trump under false, lying premises since election night.” Mark Levin claimed that several of the witnesses testifying in the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment hearings “exposed themselves as part of a cabal.”

To these radio hosts, Trump’s voters are the ones who are really under attack: “He’s a surrogate for their hatred for us,” said Limbaugh. Given this robust defense, it’s not surprising that Trump regularly retweets or quotes hosts like LimbaughLevin and Laura Ingraham.

But there’s more to these apologetics than the fact that right-wing talk radio hosts agree with the president’s views. Trump sounds just like them. Reality TV may have enshrined his celebrity, but Trump’s tone, his concerns and his willingness to shock people are most at home on the radio waves during rush hour.

He calls the House investigation “The Greatest Witch Hunt In American History!” and a “hoax.” He asserts without evidence that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) is “a corrupt politician and a criminal” and that Republicans are dealing with “human scum.”

It’s rants like these — which mimic what millions of conservative Americans consume on the airwaves — that have helped Trump build and cement a durable bond with these voters. This relationship might prove to be the president’s political salvation, propelling him not only past impeachment but maybe even to a second term.

When Trump declared his candidacy in 2015, reporters and analysts of all political stripes dismissed him as a sideshow. Not only did he lack political experience, but he kept saying things that politicians just weren’t allowed to say. One astute observer thought otherwise: Limbaugh. He said he and his producer were “laughing ourselves silly” during Trump’s announcement speech, but he also presciently observed: “This is gonna resonate with a lot of people, I guarantee you, and the Drive-Bys” — Limbaugh’s term for mainstream journalists — “are gonna pooh-pooh it. They’re gonna relegate it to the carnival characteristics of the campaign and so forth, but it’s gonna resonate, just like [1992 and 1996 presidential candidate Ross] Perot did.”

How did Limbaugh know that Trump’s message would connect? Maybe because a lot of what the candidate said sounded like his show. The most controversial line in Trump’s campaign announcement speech was his assertion that Mexico was sending the United States “rapists” and others who brought drugs and crime with them. This claim horrified many Americans. But later that summer, after Trump was pushed on the point during the first Republican primary debate, Limbaugh defended himarguing: “You know, they try to dump on Trump, demand proof from him that the Mexican government is knowingly sending rapists, murderers and purse snatchers, and this kind of thing. They are! It’s something I know full well. We’ve had the stories. We’ve done them on this program.” And indeed, he had: For more than a decade, Limbaugh had been railing about “violent criminals” that “countries like Mexico” were “unwilling to take back.” To Limbaugh and his audience, Trump was showing a refreshing willingness to tell uncomfortable truths that Republican politicians shy away from because they are afraid of offending liberal sensibilities or being accused of bigotry.

Stylistically, Trump is far more talk-radio host than buttoned-down politician. For instance, he employs snarky nicknames to rip the mainstream media. While Levin bemoans the “Washington Compost” and “MSLSD,” Trump lashes out at the “Failing New York Times,” “Deface the Nation” and “Very Low Ratings” CNN.

The extreme rhetoric Trump uses, especially on immigration, has long been a staple of talk radio (and other conservative media, like Fox News and Breitbart). During the 2007 debate over bipartisan immigration reform, Limbaugh warned that the Senate bill would “fundamentally, and perhaps permanently, alter American society for the worse.” Fellow talker Michael Savage said then-Senate Republican leader Trent Lott (Miss.) was engaged in “gansterism” after Lott compained about talk-radio hosts.

Seven years later, when Republican House Speaker John Boehner revealed his principles for immigration reform, Limbaugh exploded again. To him, the push to admit immigrants who, he claimed, saw the United States as “no place special” was one more part of the left’s campaign to degrade America. Liberals were teaching young Americans in public schools, he said, “not only not to love the country, but they’re being lied to about how the country was founded, why it was founded, who founded it and what its purpose is.” And now, with immigration reform, Limbaugh fumed, the Republican Party wanted “the end of the country as we know it.” While Ingraham admitted in 2014 that she personally liked Boehner, she, too, declared that what he was doing on immigration was “a nightmare. It is political suicide both for the free market and ultimately for small-government conservatism.”

What enraged hosts and listeners the most was that, instead of going to war to defeat such dangerous ideas, establishment Republicans like Boehner were proposing them and trying to punish the few courageous conservatives who dared to fight back. That’s what happened to Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) in 2015 when he voted against a procedural rule on a trade bill that would have given President Barack Obama authority to negotiate deals faster. Leadership’s attempt to punish Meadows enraged Levin, who called Boehner a “fool” and a “moron” and demanded: “We need a new Republican Party that’s principled, that’s conservative, that believes in America. Not this crap that goes on inside the Beltway.”

Listening to talk radio, it was clear that many of the people in right-wing audiences wanted this sort of fire from politicians, too. But they had concluded that most Republican politicians were too weak or too interested in currying favor in the clubby world of Washington to adequately battle Democrats. Later that summer, after analysts panned Trump’s performance in the first Republican debate, a Limbaugh caller named Chris epitomized this sentiment, explaining that pundits underestimated the anger of Republicans like him toward their party. These voters felt “almost betrayed.” To Chris, instead of two parties arrayed against each other, “like Republican versus Democrat,” it was “almost like two versions of one party, and the other side is the outsiders that aren’t part of it.”

This belief created fertile ground for Trump: His blunt calls to build a border wall, his willingness to sneer at norms dictating what he couldn’t say or do, and his instinct to punch back at critics thrilled conservatives who had been looking for a pugilistic politician who sounded like their favorite warriors on the airwaves.

And far from becoming more presidential after winning office, Trump has continued to shred norms, sticking to the sort of rhetoric more commonly found on talk radio than in the White House — especially on his Twitter feed. A New York Times analysis last month revealed that between Inauguration Day in 2017 and early this November, Trump had attacked someone or something in 5,889 tweets, while 1,710 tweets promoted conspiracy theories, also common on conservative airwaves. The impeachment inquiry has turned the president’s Twitter feed positively molten: He has labeled Schiff “sick and suggested that the chairman be arrested for treason. He has dubbed Democrats a “disgrace” and questioned their sanity. Like the radio hosts, he has called the impeachment investigation “bulls—,” a “coup” intended to take away people’s “freedoms.” He has demanded that lawmakers such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) be impeached (which isn’t constitutionally possible) and even endorsed the theory that his removal might lead to a “Civil War like fracture.”

To Trump’s base, rather than being unpresidential or dangerous, this rhetoric proves he’s a fighter willing to tell inconvenient truths and take on their burden — just as hosts like Limbaugh, Levin and Ingraham have for decades. Listeners believe that their values — such as a belief in traditional nuclear families and gender roles, patriotism, religiosity and economic freedom from government intrusion — which they see as crucial to American greatness, are under attack. And Trump has the power, the megaphone and the willingness to battle back against a cruel and intolerant liberal establishment that increasingly dominates society, no matter the firestorm he creates. As long as he’s doing that, his base isn’t going to let him be destroyed by the forces seeking to cripple the country they love.

Trump’s EPIC Meltdown During Fox & Friends Interview

Trump has an epic meltdown during a live Fox & Friends interview.

Trump recites conspiracy theory about the “DNC server”

The expansive remarks by the president came during a rambling, roughly hourlong phone call to “Fox & Friends,” in an exercise co-host Brian Kilmeade dubbed a “stress release.”
The previous two weeks have been a period of intense pressure for the White House, as impeachment investigators have heard televised testimony from a dozen witnesses detailing a sweeping campaign by the Trump administration seeking Ukraine-led probes into the president’s political opponents.”

00:00
I do want always corruption I say that
00:04
to anybody like technically a slip of
00:08
the tongue I guess some would say a
00:09
Freudian slip perhaps with that Donald
00:12
Trump Brewer than you purposed so
00:14
exactly exactly so there Donald Trump
00:18
president of these United States called
00:21
up Fox and Friends and they tried to
00:25
interview him I can’t say that they
00:27
interviewed him because that implied
00:28
that he ever stopped talking and they
00:30
got an a questioning they did get
00:32
questions in occasion essentially and it
00:34
was the kind of question where they just
00:35
repeat what he just said in astonishment
00:38
mm-hmm like you don’t what you want a
00:39
great example of that let’s do let’s go
00:41
to our first clip because we got a feel
00:42
that we’re to go to but Donald Trump
00:44
he’s not going to be deterred by like
00:46
Fiona Hills testimony yesterday about
00:49
how the whole CrowdStrike Ukraine 2016
00:52
thing is a Russian promoted conspiracy
00:55
theory to get the suspicion off of them
00:57
for interfering with US elections that
00:59
was just yesterday that was debunked yet
01:01
again a Donald Trump today spreading it
01:04
on Fox and Friends from the DNC
01:06
Democratic National Committee who has
01:08
the sir know the FBI went and they told
01:10
him get out of here you’re not kidding
01:12
we’re not giving it to you
01:13
they gave the server to CrowdStrike or
01:16
whatever it’s called which is a country
01:18
which is a company owned by a very
01:20
wealthy Ukrainian and I still wanted to
01:23
see that server you know the FBI has
01:24
never gotten that server that’s a big
01:27
part of this whole thing why did they
01:29
give it to a Ukrainian company where you
01:31
sure they did that are you sure they
01:33
gave it to Ukraine well the next word
01:38
start a Trump are like that’s what I
01:39
hear that that’s a word that’s the word
01:41
that’s there’s a lot of words on the
01:44
internet you should not trust most of
01:46
them these of them are bad words this is
01:48
so horrible mm-hmm like that
01:50
specifically is so horrible and a
01:54
microcosm of what’s been happening in
01:56
media discourse
01:57
under the trump presidency like those
02:00
are jesters this was a four there’s a
02:01
fifty minute interview with Donald Trump
02:04
a fifty minute show and never anywhere
02:07
else has it been so apparent that Fox
02:09
and Friends are the court jesters
02:11
because jesters job was to come before
02:13
the king
02:13
and put on a show just before the king
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as he doesn’t care if they live or die
02:18
as he toys with them to his heart’s
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content either laughing at them and
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rewarding them with praise or not being
02:25
satisfied with their performance and
02:27
then like literally tarring and
02:29
feathering them I like the metaphor and
02:32
I think that there’s something to that
02:33
but like the Jester is supposed to be
02:36
able to talk every once in a while like
02:37
this is the gesture like are you sure
02:39
you want don’t don’t pick that up no
02:41
don’t throw that when mr. president
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seriously we don’t eat that that’s not
02:45
every other day when he’s not on the
02:46
show is the jesters performance because
02:48
this is that moment where the Justin
02:50
where the court with a the the King
02:52
gives them feedback gives them feedback
02:54
yeah that’s it and it becomes so
02:57
apparent in this moment as they just
02:59
stare and the producers need to do
03:00
something else basically with that I cut
03:03
them like and I don’t understand how
03:04
people watching that at home don’t see
03:06
their beloved Fox and Friends faces yeah
03:09
just melting with a sad you sure about
03:13
that and like occasionally I want Jarrow
03:15
to make a mashup for the main show but
03:17
he’ll be talking talking talking like
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start talking and John stop talking
03:20
yours okay I’ve decided right what
03:25
happened was the tightness in the shots
03:26
what they do he keeps talking they try
03:28
to get a question because he’s rambling
03:30
off and they try to get in and they
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can’t and then they smile at the camera
03:34
because they know this is this is
03:36
pointless we don’t even need to be here
03:38
we should just given him you know sent
03:39
him a webcam and he could broadcast an
03:41
hour to the Fox audience but anyway to
the content of what he said there he
said they the FBI came into the DNC and
tried to get the server and they said get
out of here FBI
which is a thing you can
legally do somehow and they didn’t give
this the server all of that is nonsense
and it’s it’s so many steps of nonsense
that it makes you just feel like a crazy
person CrowdStrike is not a Ukrainian
company it’s a it’s a company based in
California that’s what it is
there wasn’t a server there were 140
servers some of them physical servers
some of them digital servers information
existing in the cloud which is a concept
you’re not going to get the president to
understand there was no one server to
hand over there were many servers which
were imaged and all of the information
was given to the FBI the FBI which by
the way along with 16 other intelligence
services the United States all agree
that Ukraine was not meddling in the
2016 election it was Russia but he is
spreading this conspiracy theory which
can be if you go back far enough the
origins are the Russian intelligence
services themselves he is continuing to
spread and already many times debunked
conspiracy theory in the midst of this
impeachment inquiry and well that’s his
defense and he isn’t even spreading it
right which only serves the purpose of
conspiracy conspiracy theories at large
which is just this cloud of doubt is a a
bunch of sand that is his only goal
[Music]
05:09
thank you for watching this clip from
05:11
the damage report for more content from
05:13
the show and access to TYT Network
05:14
members-only exclusives go to t
05:16
y-t-dot-com / Brooke wait no it’s TYT
05:20
comm / Jon go to TYT comm / Jon to sign
05:24
up

Luckily, Trump Is an Unstable Non-Genius

His mental deficiencies may save American democracy.

The surprising thing about the constitutional crisis we’re now facing is that it took so long to happen. It was obvious from early on that the president of the United States is a would-be autocrat who accepts no limits on his power and considers criticism a form of treason, and he is backed by a party that has denied the legitimacy of its opposition for many years. Something like this moment was inevitable.

What still hangs in the balance is the outcome. And if democracy survives — which is by no means certain — it will largely be thanks to one unpredictable piece of good luck: Donald Trump’s mental deficiency.

I don’t mean that Trump is stupid; a stupid man couldn’t have managed to defraud so many people over so many years. Nor do I mean that he’s crazy, although his speeches and tweets (“my great and unmatched wisdom”; the Kurds weren’t there on D-Day) keep sounding loonier.

He is, however, lazy, utterly incurious and too insecure to listen to advice or ever admit to a mistake. And given that he is in fact what he accuses others of being — an enemy of the people — we should be thankful for his flaws.

Never mind the clear demonstration that the G.O.P.’s Obama-era hyperventilating about deficits was completely hypocritical. The more important point is that $300 billion is a lot of money, and it should have been enough to buy Trump a lot of political gain.

After all, other white nationalists trying to do what Trump is trying to do — subvert the rule of law and convert their nations from democracies on paper to one-party autocracies in practice — have solidified their grasp on power by delivering at least a bit on their populist promises. In Poland, for example, the Law and Justice party has increased social spending and is now promising a big rise in the minimum wage.

Trump’s domestic economic policy, however, has been standard Republican top-down class warfare. None of that $300 billion went for social benefits or even his continually promised, never-delivered infrastructure plan. Instead, it went mainly into tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy that have done little to boost investment.

[For an even deeper look at what’s on Paul Krugman’s mind, sign up for his weekly newsletter.]

At the same time, Trump has pursued his personal tariff obsession despite mounting evidence that it’s hurting growth. The economy was supposed to be his big political selling point. Instead, polls of his net job approval on economic policy are, on average, barely positive even now — and likely to get worse as tariffs on consumer goods bite and the economy slows.

But Trump’s squandered economic opportunities are, of course, secondary at this point to his de facto self-impeachment.

Just a few weeks ago it seemed that Trump would skate on charges both of colluding with Russia to subvert the 2016 election and of obstruction of justice; the Mueller report was basically a bust, partly because the story was complicated, partly because of Robert Mueller’s diffidence.

But Trump has managed to make things clear enough for everyone to understand. First he demanded that foreign regimes produce dirt on domestic political rivals, not just in phone calls but right there on camera. Now he’s engaged in a crude, obvious effort to stonewall the House impeachment inquiry that is clearly an impeachable offense in itself.

Why did he hand the defenders of democracy so much ammunition? Partly he seems to have gotten high on his own supply — he actually seems to believe the bizarre conspiracy theories his supporters drum up to excuse his actions. Also, he evidently lacks any kind of self-restraint. Even if he considers any effort to hold him accountable a form of treason, he should have known better than to blurt it out in public.

So Trump’s own actions explain why a vote to impeach, which seemed unlikely just a few weeks ago, now looks almost inevitable. Conviction in the Senate is still unlikely, but not as impossible as it once appeared.

The larger point is that if Trump were cannier and more self-controlled, the march to autocracy might well be unstoppable. He has the backing of a party whose elected representatives have shown no sign of democratic scruples. He has de facto state media in the form of Fox News and the rest of the Murdoch empire. He has already managed to corrupt key government agencies, including the Justice Department.

Indeed, these advantages are so large that the assault on democracy may yet prevail. The only reason it might falter is, as I said, Trump’s own deficiencies.

It says a lot about the modern G.O.P. that the party is still solidly behind a man so obviously, grotesquely, not up to the job (although some rank-and-file Republicans now back an impeachment inquiry). But those of us who want America as we know it to survive should be grateful that Trump is so immature and incompetent. His character flaws are the only thing that gives us a fighting chance.

Trump’s Most Loyal Allies Are Putting Him on the Path to Impeachment

I don’t think it’s possible to fully grasp the Ukraine scandal without understanding the dynamic outlined by former homeland security adviser Thomas Bossert last weekend. Recall that he told ABC News and the New York Times that a pernicious cycle had taken hold in the White House — even as aides debunked 2016 conspiracy theories, Trump allies (including Rudy Giuliani) would sell the president once again on wild talesHere’s the Times report on Bossert:

“It is completely debunked,” Mr. Bossert said of the Ukraine theory on ABC. Speaking with George Stephanopoulos, Mr. Bossert blamed Mr. Giuliani for filling the president’s head with misinformation. “I am deeply frustrated with what he and the legal team is doing and repeating that debunked theory to the president. It sticks in his mind when he hears it over and over again, and for clarity here, George, let me just again repeat that it has no validity.”

And:

Other former aides said separately on Sunday that the president had a particular weakness for conspiracy theories involving Ukraine, which in the past three years has become the focus of far-right media outlets and political figures. Mr. Trump was more willing to listen to outside advisers like Mr. Giuliani than his own national security team.

I’ve heard many of these conspiracy theories, and — like many conspiracies — they can use a base of troubling truth as a launching pad for the most bizarre of claims. For example,

  • the origin of the Steele Dossier is troubling and worth investigating.
  • The Carter Page FISA applications should also be closely examined. It is not at all uncommon (sadly) for to find examples of overreach or abuse in any far-flung and complex investigation — that’s one reason why defense lawyers often spend so much time on suppression motions before trials.

But the theories floating around online Trumpworld go far, far beyond any discernible connection to logic or evidence.

But here’s the problem — the wildest theories are floated in the quarters that are most fiercely devoted to the president.  They’re the ones who constantly to refer to the “real collusion” as the connection between Democrats and the Ukrainian government. They’re the ones who cast doubt on the very idea that Russia interfered in the election at all, much less on Trump’s behalf. They’re the ones constantly using absurd words like “coup” to describe constitutional and legal processes that are adverse to Trump. And, based on the transcript of the call with Volodymyr Zelensky, it seems as if Trump is drinking deeply of their conspiratorial Kool-Aid.

In their click-bait zeal to curry favor with the world’s most powerful man, they are feeding Trump’s worst instincts, and now we know that he’s warped American diplomacy in one of the world’s most dangerous neighborhoods as a result.

In an interview earlier today, I described the scandal as one part corruption, one part fitness. Yes, it’s venal and corrupt to depart from any conventional legal process to urge a dependent foreign government (or a hostile foreign government, like China) to investigate a domestic political rival — especially in the absence of evidence of criminal wrongdoing. But the willingness to believe in conspiracy theories and conduct diplomacy accordingly also speaks less to Trump’s corruption than whether he has the character, knowledge, and temperament to be president. In fact, I’m starting to believe that the fitness aspect of this controversy may well be dominant.

Trump’s most extreme allies have built a large media following, but the most important person in that audience is the current occupant of the Oval Office. They’ve succeeded in convincing the most powerful man in the world that their theories are right. They’re influencing diplomacy at the highest levels. But they just might be planting the seeds of Trump’s political destruction. They’ve helped put their beloved president on the path to impeachment.