Over the past few days I’ve noticed several “dots” somewhat hidden in the news. I think I may have connected them and if so I have a prediction to make. Let’s explore.
Today’s Republican base is divided into two groups one of which has somewhat of a subdivision within it. The first is the combination of the religious right, the politically ignorant followers and the just plain bigots of one sort or another I’ll call them Bubba. The other group is what I will call the traditional/establishment Republicans. That group includes deep pocketed business types and legitimate conservatives (not those who have hijacked the term to appear legitimate).
Trump is taking advantage of the ignorance, (willful or real), of the first group. To date he has basically kept the second group in line but I see evidence of that beginning about to erode.
The information coming out about Russiagate primarily comes from two sources: good investigative reporting and leaks. Increasingly those leaks are attributed to sources inside the White House. When a legitimate reporter is on the receiving end of a leak (read: tip) the first things they do are consider the source and verify the information before going public. They and their superiors still can choose to go public or not. Organizations like the New York Times, Washington Post or MSNBC satisfy their mostly liberal audience with stories that portray Trump in a negative light. The opposite is true for organizations like the Wall Street Journal or Fox News. A major breaker of negative stories about the Trump administration has been the Wall Street Journal. That is significant.
Over the last few days the right wing has been abuzz because Shepard Smith of Fox News in frustration finally called out Trump for lying. As a whole, Fox is still solidly in Trump’s corner. It remains to be seen if Smith’s deviance into reality is a turning point or if Chris Wallace’s voice will be the lone voice of reason and reality on the network.
Just the facts that some cracks are appearing in the solid red wall of “conservative” news coverage is significant. The Wall Street Journal is one of the five most prestigious newspapers in the world. Fox is a major television network. They need readers/listeners beyond the Bubbas of today’s Republican base to maintain economic viability. In the case of the Wall Street Journal, Bubba isn’t even a significant factor; they cater to the legitimate conservatives that tend to vote and donate Republican.
Bubba also get his “information” from sources like Rush Limbaugh, Breitbart and Infowars. (The word information being in quotes is intention because of the context!) Those outlets don’t have nearly the same penetration or credibility with the legitimate conservatives in the Republican base.
There is no Trump feud with Fox News and never has been. For those who point to Trump’s boycott of a Fox sponsored debate during the primary I contend that was more of a publicity stunt (which backfired on Trump with those who were actually paying attention to the facts). That night Trump ran a competing event the stated purpose of which was to raise funds for veterans. Trump personally pledged $1 million. That money never materialized until David Farenthold of the Washington Post ran an article exposing Trump. After a variety of malarkey answers Trump finally came up with the money and labeled Farenthold’s article as, “Fake news.” This piece was a major factor in Farenthold winning a Pulitzer Prize, which Trump contends the National Enquirer should have won. To steal Chuck Schumer’s words, I think it is a case of the Trump people only doing the right thing when they get caught doing the wrong thing.
Donald Trump, Jr. ran to Fox when the New York Times broke the story of his collusion and campaign law violation involving Russia. Sean Hannity served up the softballs and Trump, Jr. merely succeeded in buying a few hours until his lies and omissions were exposed. Later Trump, Jr. only published what he purports to be the entirety of related e-mails after the New York Times informed him they were going to release them and then only after extracting a delay from the Times. Another reinforcement of Senator Schumer’s theory!
President Trump resorted to doing an interview with Pat Robertson. In choosing Robertson he was guaranteed two things: no hard hitting questions and an audience of his base that will believe anything they hear if Robertson is involved in the conversation.
To play just a bit more to the religious right Trump held a meeting with white ministers and replicated an Obama prayer photo-op. It’s all about the base!
A side story that may or may not play out more in the future is Vice President Mike Pence’s role in Russiagate. It appears he may have been involved in part of the goings on and certainly has been complicit in the cover-up. He is a favorite of the religious right and was prominently featured in the praying photo.
Another interesting movement around the right wing is the Russian “infiltration” of the NRA. Suddenly we are to believe that many Putin connected Russians are really into guns. That is particularly interesting considering they are power players in a regime that certainly doesn’t encourage open carry. Putin and his people imprison and assassinate journalists; do you think they are going to let protesters carry guns in the streets of Moscow? Bubba likes guns and he is not well informed. If Russians say they like guns they can’t be all that bad in Bubba’s book.
If the Trump administration were a rock band introducing the players on stage the introduction would include the phrase, “On base: Donald Trump”. It would be a bad band and all Trump cares about is the base; he is incapable of satisfying anyone else. As long as he holds on to most of his base he feels he will survive.
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