- The Washington Times
Thursday, December 20, 2018

It has happened before, and it will happen again. The news media continues to craft coverage that suggests that the iron-clad support of Trump voters for their president is eroding. Ironically, the stories are arriving just as President Trump’s fans are contributing to a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for the southern border wall. Citizen donations for “We the People Will Fund the Wall” hit $12 million by Friday and continue to roll in. There are 200 similar efforts on GoFundMe — and much social media content from Trump fans themselves indicates they remain loyal and steadfast.

Meanwhile, the press continues to hammer on Mr. Trump’s challenges, whether it’s the 19-month-old Russia collusion investigation, legal matters, White House “chaos,” a government shutdown or the dramas of immigration and other policy issues.


“Not even Trump supporters believe the president on Russia anymore,” noted The Washington Post, while the BBC declared “Trump supporters angry at his retreat on border wall.”

And it’s getting complicated. Mediaite advised “Don’t look now, but Trump’s own media base is revolting,” while Politico proclaimed “Conservative media turns on Trump for going wobbly on the wall.”

Things move very quickly though. Speculation about Mr. Trump can lose its seductive charm should the president fire off a strategic tweet that can alter the dynamics of controversy, often in his favor.

And about those Trump voters. Yes, the media can resort to caricatures and stray poll findings to depict the 68 million people who elected the president. Some authors, however, have gone the distance. And early. A 2017 book titled “Republican Like Me: How I Left the Liberal Bubble and Learned to Love the Right” by Ken Stern surprised many; the author is the very Democratic former CEO of National Public Radio.

“When we don’t know the other side, when we don’t hear from them, when we don’t talk to them, when we can demonize them to our heart’s content, there are just no brakes on our sense of self-righteousness. Polarization is increasing because polarization is increasingly easy,” wrote Mr. Stern.

Then there is “Militant Normals: How Regular Americans Are Rebelling Against the Elite to Reclaim our Democracy” by Townhall columnist Kurt Schlichter, who wrote that his book is “entirely sympathetic to Normal Americans and their struggle to reclaim what belongs to them — the United States of America.”

DEMOCRATIC DEBATES READY FOR LAUNCH

Perhaps it makes sense, given that there could be up to 40 Democratic hopefuls vying to be the party’s presidential candidate in 2020. The face-off among them could be sooner than we think.

“The Democratic National Committee is preparing to release the first part of its 2020 presidential primary debate plan before year’s end, eyeing at least a half a dozen in 2019 and ultimately moving to de-emphasize polling as a driving factor for early candidate qualification,” writes David Cantanese, senior politics writer for U.S. News & World Report.

“The idea is to self-correct the perceived errors and bias of the 2016 cycle, in which the committee sanctioned only three debates the year prior — beginning in October 2015 — to ostensibly appease the wishes of front-runner Hillary Clinton. The outcry from Clinton opponents and party activists led to a reform mindset rooted in greater transparency and fairness, with the goal of avoiding the anointing of winners and the minimization of underdogs from the outset,” Mr. Cantanese said.

The debates could begin as early as late spring.

“I think they are going to have at least six of them before 2020,” Howard Dean — former DNC chairman, 2004 presidential candidate and an adviser — told U.S. News. “At some point you have to winnow down the field, but not in the beginning and not by the DNC, as we saw from last time around. I would not do it based on polls, I would not do it on how much money they raised.”

BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES

“Prepare for a long, chaotic presidential primary fight,” predicts National Journal columnist Josh Kraushaar. “The huge roster of credible candidates, the presence of Democratic nomination rules allocating delegates proportionally, and a drawn-out calendar with ample early voting all suggest that the 2020 process will be a never-ending mess.”

THE MATTIS PRESS

Secretary of Defense James Mattis formally revealed his plans to resign from his post in two months. It is a complex and significant occasion of course, but it also signaled the news media to get in touch with their inner interpretative sides.

Among the parade of headlines which immediately followed the announcement:

“Jim Mattis resigns, rebuking Trump’s worldview” (The New York Times); “Mattis quits, says his views are not ‘aligned’ with Trump‘s” (CNN); “With Mattis out, we’re in unchartered territory” (The Washington Post); “James Mattis’s final protest against Trump” (The Atlantic); “Mattis is falling on his sword” (CNN); “Trump Pentagon chief Mad Dog Mattis will retire in February” (Daily Mail); “Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigns, scolding Trump over his military” (NBC News); “‘This is scary’: Mattis’ resignation triggers bipartisan chorus of concern on Capitol Hill” (MSNBC); “Secretary of Defense Mattis will resign, tumultuous week For WH continues” (NPR); “Mattis, in resignation letter, lays bare divide with Trump” (Reuters).

WEEKEND REAL ESTATE

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POLL DU JOUR

34 percent of Americans give journalists a “low or very low” rating for their honesty and ethics; 61 percent of Republicans, 34 percent of independents and 12 percent of Democrats agree.

33 percent give journalists a “high or very high” rating for honesty and ethics; 10 percent of Republicans, 31 percent of independents and 54 percent of Democrats agree.

31 percent give journalists an “average” rating for honesty and ethics; 27 percent of Republicans, 32 percent of independents and 33 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Gallup poll of 1,025 U.S. adults conducted Dec. 3-12 and released Thursday.

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