Tag Archives: Donald Trump

Will Trump’s War on the Media Work?

A Trump supporters heckles the media.

Earlier today, Donald Trump sent out a push “poll” to his supporters attacking the media, which I covered at The Weekly Standard.

If you missed the story, Trump — who has not, to anyone’s knowledge, spent a dime on internal polling — used a push “poll” to fan the flames of anger against “the media” whom he blames for his dismal general election results.

In my view, his campaign is likely using the clearly non-scientific “poll” for four purposes:

  1. Data mining his supporters’ views.
  2. Something he will seriously cite on national TV as evidence of X. (In any other year, it’d be beyond belief, but alas, it’s 2016…)
  3. Data mining his supporters’ reading/viewing habits. (TWS made the top five!)
  4. To use psychology to further convince them that they’re right and everyone else, including reporters, opinion writers, and outlets they typically read/respect, are wrong.

Zach Hanover, a GOP ad maker, writes in:

I can’t imagine doing anything like that with any of my clients. Easily one of the most pathetic and amateurish displays from this campaign and sadly I have a feeling we aren’t done yet…

Also as you pointed out… seems like the only purpose was data mining with the questions about channel preferences. Not sure what else can be gained from that.

One anonymous pollster I spoke to opined:

Once upon a time, people used to make fun of SurveyMonkey. But they never saw this survey from the Trump campaign’s sophomore-year government class… Direct mail people who send out those fundraising ‘surveys’ are laughing at this until their sides hurt… Trump has no other play than to keep his core supporters on board.

“It’s good to at least see what they’re working on instead of opening campaign offices or running ads…” commented former senate press secretary and communications consultant Michael Freeman. “Each day brings new evidence that this is one man’s ego trip, with a dash of grievance-airing, rather than anything resembling a real campaign”

Charlie Sykes, a prominent Wisconsin-based talk radio host and commentator who has been critical of Trump, has this to say about the Trump push “poll”:

It tells me that he has become rather consumed by his war with the media, even at he expense of talking about Hillary. For Trump, this is consistent. I’m guessing his loudest applause lines at his rallies are his attacks on the media and there is no downside to attacking them, at least when it comes to his own base.

His specific examples of mainstream media bias are likely to resonate with his supporters who have marinated in talk radio over the years.

But this is also now becoming a crucial tactic for his campaign: he lives by the media in the primaries and is dying by the media in the general. The coverage of negative, and it is clearly damaging. Trump’s response isn’t just to push back on negative stories; it is to de-legitimize the media altogether. That way he inoculates himself against stories about his outrageous comments, his phony charitable contributions, his Trump U. fraud case, his taxes, gaffes, or misstatements of fact. He has already benefited from the alternative reality created by friendly conservative media, so he has decided to double down in telling his fan base that they are the only credible sources.

Sykes, in an earlier interview with Business Insider‘s Oliver Darcy suggested that conservative media has “created a monster” as it pertains to their listening base:

We’ve basically eliminated any of the referees, the gatekeepers. There’s nobody. Let’s say that Donald Trump basically makes whatever you want to say, whatever claim he wants to make. And everybody knows it’s a falsehood. The big question of my audience, it is impossible for me to say that. ‘By the way, you know it’s false.’ And they’ll say, ‘Why? I saw it on Allen B. West.’ Or they’ll say, ‘I saw it on a Facebook page.’ And I’ll say, ‘The New York Times did a fact check.’ And they’ll say, Oh, that’s The New York Times. That’s [a lie].’ There’s nobody — you can’t go to anybody and say, ‘Look, here are the facts.’ And I have to say that’s one of the disorienting realities of this political year. You can be in the alternative media reality and there’s no way to break through it. And I swim upstream because if I don’t say these things from some of these websites, then suddenly I have sold out. Then they’ll ask what’s wrong with me for not repeating these stories that I know not to be true.

This might be charitably described as the “Fargo” strategy, from season one. A poster in Lester Nygaard’s basement reads: “What if you’re right and they’re wrong?” A red fish swims against the current of yellow fish.

This is the audience Trump seeks input from: citizens so distrusting of the media / trusting in Trump, they’re willing to suspend all disbelief in support of Trump. This, despite dozens of unfavorable stories on Trump from outlets they once, ostensibly, trusted.

In short, trust no one but … Trump and your own lyin’ eyes. (Read: Please, please, please stay on board the Trump Train.)

Brian Rell, chief of staff to Rep. Robert Aderholt tweets, about the push “poll,” that it is “a reflection of public sentiment being used as campaign tool…”

Indeed, Trump is doubling down on an old talk radio trope that had some truth to it. No longer is it “the mainstream media is biased” as it sometimes is, now it’s “the media is biased.” Writ. Large.

Will it work?

Sykes thinks so:

I’m tempted to say yes, because the media polls just above used car salesmen and hemorrhoids. But in this case, it just tells me that he is (1) off message, (2) blaming somebody other than himself for his lousy poll numbers. Neither is a good sign.

After submitting their responses, respondents, of course, are asked to donate, as is the custom of all fake surveys. But Trump’s push “poll” seems less about donations and more about voter psychology… Confirming their bias that they are right, and everyone else is wrong. #MAGA.

More importantly, when will the Trump campaign get around to doing serious polling, running campaign ads on television, and shoring up the infrastructure necessary to compete in American politics?

And what role does this “poll” play in such a strategy, if any?

Fictional 2016 Trump GOP Convention Agenda

Preparing for the upcoming GOP convention in my hometown of Cleveland, a thought kept zinging through my head: What if Trump gets to 1,237 delegates before the Convention? 

Having worked the last two GOP conventions in Tampa and St. Paul, I had a hard time imagining what such a convention might be like… Given that much of the so-called GOP Establishment is not backing Trump.

Who would stump for him? What would the agenda look like?

Now, we have an idea:

**
Revised Convention-Week Schedule

Monday, July 18, 2016
2:00 p.m. Chairman of the RNC Reince Priebus
Call to Order/Start Trade Deficit Clocks

2:10 p.m. Announcement of Recess


Tuesday, July 19, 2016
2:00 p.m. Chairman of the RNC Reince Priebus
Color Guard — Breitbart.com Comment Section Honor Guard
Pledge of Allegiance by Gary Busey
National Anthem sung by Jenna Jameson
Invocation by The Most Rev. Jerry Falwell, Jr.
Opening procedural steps, appointment of convention committees
Welcoming remarks, and House and Senate candidates and RNC auxiliaries 
RNC Chairman Priebus
RNC Co-Chairman Sharon Day
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson
Convention Chief Executive Officer David Gilbert
Co-Chairman of Cleveland Host Committee Alexander Cutler (EATON Corporation)
Republican Congressional Candidates
State Rep. Michele Fiore (NV)
Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania
Chris Collins of New York
Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee
Renee Ellmers of North Carolina
Duncan D. Hunter of California
Tom Marino of Pennsylvania
Tom Reed of New York
Republican Senate Candidates (CANCELED)
Republican National Committee auxiliaries (CANCELED)
Consideration of convention committee reports, roll call vote on revoking credentials of journalists who have been ‘unfair’ to Mr. Trump, and updated list of banned products
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus
Committee on Credentials Chairman Mike Duncan
Committee on Permanent Organization Chairwoman Zoraida Fonalledas
Convention Permanent Chairman Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Presiding
Official Convention Photograph
Committee on Rules Chairman John Sununu
Committee on Resolutions Chairman Governor John Kasich (CANCELED)
Committee on Resolutions Co-Chairman U.S. Senator John Hoeven
Committee on Resolutions Co-Chairman U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn
Roll Call for Nomination of President of the United States
Roll Call for Nomination of Vice President of the United States
6:40 p.m. Recess
7:00 p.m. Reconvene
Remarks by Former Cleveland Indians John Rocker and Johnny Damon.
Remarks by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus
Video and remarks by Hulk Hogan, owner of Hogan Media (Formerly Gawker)
Remarks by Lou Dobbs (FOX Business surrogate)
Remarks by former U.S. Senator Scott Brown
Remarks by Orly Taitz, accompanied by Phyllis Schlafly
Remarks by Vince McMahon (World Wrestling Entertainment)
Remarks by Dennis Rodman, accompanied by Terrell Owens
Remarks by Bob Knight, accompanied by Mike Tyson
Remarks by Jimmie McMillan (Rent is too Damn High)
Remarks by Breitbart.com Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon
10:00 p.m. Remarks by Ann Coulter
Remarks by Mrs. Melania Trump
Remarks by Alicia Watkins (USAF, Say Yes to the Dress, Troops Media)
Benediction by Minister Omarosa Manigault

Adjournment


Wednesday, July 20, 2016
7:00 p.m. Convention convenes
Call to order
Introduction of Colors by Co-Chair of Veterans for Trump Jerry DeLemus* (*=Pending outcome of criminal trial.)
Pledge of Allegiance by Major General Bert Mizusawa, US Army (Ret.)
National Anthem sung by Tiffany Trump (CANCELED)
Invocation by Willie Robertson (Entrepreneur, star of Duck Dynasty)
Trump Infomercial Montage and History of the Donald on Television Video (Narrated by James Woods)
Remarks by Convention Temporary Chairman Corey Lewandowski
Remarks by Senator Jeff Sessions (AL)
Remarks by Carl Paladino and Dan Scavino
8:00 p.m. Remarks by Sheriff Joe Arpaio (AZ), accompanied by Andrea Tantaros (FOX surrogate)
Remarks by Attorney General Pam Bondi (FL) and Governor Rick Scott (FL)
Remarks by Governor Paul LePage (ME)
Video Remarks by Jean-Marie Le Pen (France) and Geert Wilders (Netherlands)
Remarks by Ben Carson
9:00 p.m. Remarks by Former Governor Chris Christie (NJ)
Remarks by Judge Sarah Palin (AK)
Donald and Melania, the Love of a Lifetime Video (Narrated by Sarah and Bristol Palin)
Remarks by Mike Huckabee, accompanied by Sarah Huckabee Sanders
10:00 p.m. Remarks by Sean Hannity (FOX NEWS surrogate)
Remarks by Alex Jones (Prison Planet)
Remarks by vice presidential nominee Mr. Dinesh D’Souza
Special Screening of Hillary’s America
Benediction by Kayleigh McEnany (CNN surrogate)
2:00 a.m. Adjournment

Thursday, July 21, 2016
2:00 p.m. Convention convenes
Five hours of an empty podium to be aired on all national cable networks.
7:00 Call to order and eviction of Code Pink, Black Lives Matter, and Immigration Protesters by Convention Chairman for Life Corey Lewandowski
Introduction of Colors by Breitbart.com Senior Staff (Milo Yiannopoulos, Matthew Boyle, John Nolte, Joel Pollak)
Pledge of Allegiance by John Daly (British Open Champion)
National Anthem sung by Ted Nugent and Kid Rock, ft. Azealia Banks
Invocation by Scottie Nell Hughes (CNN surrogate)
Remarks by Eric Trump
Reagan and Trump: Their Legacy Video (Narrated by Jeffrey Lord –Former Reagan Aide / CNN surrogate)
Remarks by Newt and Callista Gingrich
Remarks by Donald Trump, Jr.
8:00 p.m. Remarks by Ivanka Trump
Remarks by Roy Beck (Founder, NumbersUSA)
Remarks by Jon Voight, accompanied by Bruce Willis
Remarks by Stephen Baldwin (The Last Ship, TNT)
9:00 p.m. Remarks by Carl Icahn
Remarks by Jean-Claude Van Damme
Remarks by Territorial Governor Ralph Torres (Northern Mariana Islands)
Making America Great Again Video (Narrated by Mark Cuban and Robert Davi)
10:00 p.m. Introduction by Mike Ditka
Remarks by presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Benediction by Minister Rafael Cruz.
Corey Lewandowski declares convention adjourned

The Genius of Trump’s Language

This analysis is some of the best I’ve seen on the genius that is Donald Trump’s unconventional speaking style.

What I Saw at the Trump Rally

A Trump supporters heckles the media.

Over at the WEEKLY STANDARD, I have a piece on last night’s Donald Trump rally in Manassas. You can read the whole thing here, but here’s a brief excerpt.

Manassas, Virginia
Make no mistake: Donald Trump is running a serious, well-organized campaign. Wednesday night, it showed.

I arrived at the Prince William County Fairgrounds last night for the Donald’s first big rally in the Washington metro area just as the doors were opening at 5:30.

Story continues below

The Secret Service, now entrusted with Mr. Trump’s safety, manned two security checkpoints for rallygoers. One for guests, the other for media. I did not RSVP as media, yet, I went to the media check-in booth anyway to see if my press pass would help me acquire a coveted campaign trail event credential.

It didn’t.

Unlike other events, where journalists with government-issued press credentials can sign in, the Trump campaign required that latecomers email Trump campaign coordinator Megan Powers to ask for one. If she agreed, she would tell the on-site staff to give a credential. Or not.

Powers, who graduated from NYU earlier this year, presumably wields a lot of power here, deciding who in the press does or does not get access to the press area. And with the Trump campaign’s recent history of denying credentials to reporters from various outlets, I wasn’t about to wait around and take my chances.

After all, I already had a ticket to the event, since I was one of the first to register as a guest. I was made aware of the event because after buying a red “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” hat, I somehow ended up on an official volunteer email list for Trump supporters, and RSVP’d.

Read the rest of the item.

Understanding the Trump Trolls of #NRORevolt

Over the weekend, National Review’s Jonah Goldberg poked the bee-hive by writing a great column (or “G-File”) on Donald Trump.

Not only well-written, it was hard hitting. Goldberg concedes early, and correctly, that “there are plenty of decent and honorable people who support Trump.”

Of course, this column sparked outrage among the crowd that is a complete opposite: the Trump Trolls, who immediately started a hashtag cult called #NRORevolt.

Like a right-wing bastard child of Occupy Wall Street and Anonymous, #NRORevolt was popular among the nom-de-plume crowd on Twitter (i.e. cowards). Like OWS, it didn’t have much in the way of stated goals, other than outrage/revolt. But hey, when you have former Enron Adviser Paul Krugman agreeing, what else do you need?

Goldberg did more than just criticize Trump, he criticized the media celebrities who celebrate Trump, and called them out on their hypocrisy:

Ann Coulter wrote of Newt in 2011: “If all you want is to lob rhetorical bombs at Obama and then lose, Newt Gingrich — like recent favorite Donald Trump — is your candidate. But if you want to save the country, Newt’s not your guy.” Now Ann leads a chorus of people claiming that Trump is our only savior. Has Trump changed, or have Ann and her followers? Is there a serious argument behind the new thinking, or is it “because he fights!”?

Ouch.

Naturally, the Anonymous Trump Trolls of Twitter (ATToT) circled the wagons and went after Goldberg, even going so far as to suggest his dead dog had cancelled its subscription.

Classy!

But who would make such a reference? A prick of a long-time reader of National Review, who would know Jonah’s dog is dead, or a troll who never reads? Consider me skeptical that it’s the former. 

The objections, other than being butt-hurt over Goldberg’s comments regarding Trump, the #NRORevolt crowd was hard to pin down. Many suggested, like Trump supporters often do elsewhere, they would cancel their subscriptions. I found this assertion, that because of Goldberg’s column, that NRO was going to lose a lot of subscribers, a suspect premise.

 

My suspicion was quickly confirmed by none other than fictional television star/radio host Dr. Frasier Crane.

Oh, and if you haven’t delved into the racist underworld of the term “cuckservative”… don’t. If BuzzFeed and RedState agree, well… (Disclosure: I don’t even like Erick Erickson!)

Writer John Tabin chimed in on Twitter.

Quickly called out that none of these anonymous Twitter heroes were actually subscribers who could vote with their subscription dollars, they, like Trump, quickly changed the topic to suggest that conservative magazines like National Review were in danger of going out of business.

Which would be comical if it weren’t so sad that they knew so little of the conservative publishing world. Or the publishing world in general. These publications aren’t around to make money, but they don’t realize that.

Nor do they probably realize Trump himself had a magazine that folded after two years. “IT WASN’T HIS MAGAZINE”, Trump Trolls will tell us, “HE WAS JUST LENDING HIS NAME TO THE OCEAN DRIVE MEDIA GROUP. DONALD NEVER MAKES ANY MISTAKES!”

National Review has been around for how long? Just checking.

Well, these Anonymous Trump Trolls of Twitter remind me, in forming their hashtag cult, of a movie. It’s called Children of the Corn.

scorn Except, for the ATToT, they’re the “Children of the Scorn.”

Donald appeals to them because he is not politically correct, and to some normal people, that is also a part of his appeal. I’ll admit that, if Trump can kill the gaffe–>four day apology media cycle, I’ll be happy. But to the ATToT, it’s different.

Donald, to them, never goes on the offensive. (Not that they bother to check…) He only hits back! And he hits back hard!

Reality aside, these anonymous Twitter trolls are just out to fight with people. They’re the type who wage personal jihads in the comment sections, and get called out. They identify with the Donald because he, like them, is unfiltered, and largely gets away with it when they don’t.

Yet, when somebody, a writer like Jonah Goldberg — who has always been a talented writer without a PC filter — criticizes their hero, they strike.

And since they’re not subscribers, they pretend they are. Until they’re not, because NR, like virtually all political magazines, doesn’t make money.

Then, they resort to racist terms like “cuckservative” and attacks on Jews.

Yeah…

I guess the irony in all of this is that those who love Trump because he’s unfiltered, can’t take it when somebody who has been a part of the conservative movement for decades longer than Trump (Goldberg) criticizes him. Then, they want to muzzle him.

His policy positions aside, there’s a lot to appreciate about a Trump candidacy. Less so, his Twitter cult-following.

Of vs. In vs. Adding Words

Over at Politico this morning, Michael Lind has an interesting item out that suggests Donald Trump “exposed the Tea Party.”

One line, very early in the piece, jumped out at me. Lind is quoting Trump here:

“People as they make more and more money can pay a higher percentage” of taxes.

Lind didn’t use an ellipsis (…) after percentage to show that he was cutting up the quote. This is a bit sloppy.

Here’s what Trump actually said on Sean Hannity’s show:

TRUMP: I actually believe that people, as they make more and more money, can pay a higher percentage, OK?

HANNITY: How high?….What’s the cap?

You can read the full exchange here, but Trump doesn’t answer the question, other than to suggest that hedge fund managers can afford a tax increase. (This as some surmised, and later was confirmed, had to do with the “carried interest” tax rate, which is lower than the personal income tax rate a hedge fund manager would typically pay.)

This is not a defense of Trump. He didn’t answer the question with specificity, so we still don’t really know. And specificity is a problem area for Donald.

I know what you’re thinking — who cares? “‘a higher percentage’ of taxes” vs. “‘a higher percentage’ in taxes” are six and one half-dozen of the other, right? Nope, not necessarily.

Since raising taxes is generally a no-no for the political right, a distinction is important.

To say one wants wealthier people to pay “‘a higher percentage’ of taxes” is to suggest — assuming we’re only talking income taxes — that you want their contributions to represent a higher percentage than present of the total amount of taxes that are collected.

Of course, when it comes to income taxes, the top 50% of taxpayers pay 97% of all federal income taxes. The top 1% pay 38% of it.

Now, saying one wants wealthier people to pay “‘a higher percentage’ in taxes” is saying you want to raise rates on individuals as they get wealthier, or change the tax treatment of certain types of income (like carried interest or investment income) so it is treated as ordinary income.

So, what’s the distinction? Well — Trump’s views are still a mystery, but Lind inadvertently put words in Trump’s mouth by butchering the quote.

Conservatives, rightly, claim that when you tax something, generally, you get less of it. It’s not an absolute principle, but it’s generally correct. (To those who disagree, why, then are cigarette sales declining? Could it be a $1 per pack tax increase Obama signed? OK.)

In some instances, raising taxes on certain activities or on certain individuals, could ultimately result in less of that activity or individuals doing less work. It could even result in lower tax revenues than at lower rates.

The distinction between a higher percentage of all taxes and a higher percentage in tax rates is real. But Trump still hasn’t made it clear, and Lind (wrongly, though probably unintentionally) tried to make it clear.

I guess we’ll find out when Trump releases his tax plan. Though, if it’s anything like his immigration plan, don’t expect many specific details.

Meet the One Guy Who Can Make Donald Trump Uncomfortable

Yo, check it Republicans, I have found Donald Trump’s kryptonite. You’re welcome, Jeb!