On Tuesday, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump bragged about rescinding the press credentials of all Washington Post reporters covering his campaign. The reason, he said, was “inaccurate” coverage of his statements about a mass shooting in Orlando, and the trigger appeared to be a headline that the paper ran after Trump insinuated that President Obama might have known about the Orlando shooting in advance, and turned a blind eye.
The Post headline in question read, “Donald Trump Suggests President Obama Was Involved With Orlando Shooting.” Trump and his campaign immediately denied that he had done any such thing, issuing a huffy press release that read in part, “We no longer feel compelled to work with a publication which has put its need for ‘clicks’ above journalistic integrity.”
Then, the next morning, Trump woke up and tweeted out a message suggesting that his insinuations about the president -- which he had just denied -- were actually right.
The tweet contained a link to a story published by Breitbart.com that purported to prove that the Obama administration supported the terror group ISIS, to which the Orlando shooter pledged allegiance during his attack.
Trump may have thought that the Post headline overstated its case, but it has nothing on the Breitbart piece, which proves nothing except the well-known fact that both the Obama administration and Al Qaeda in Iraq, from which ISIS grew, viewed the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria as an opponent. If that is grounds for claiming that the administration “supported” AQI, then the same can be said of virtually every member of NATO.
At the same time, there is evidence that, outside the fever swamps of Breitbart, Republicans are beginning to tire of the constant demand that they respond to Trump’s every outrage, inconsistency and falsehood. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has endorsed Trump for president, on Tuesday flat-out refused to answer reporters’ questions about Trump.
Others in the GOP, like House Speaker Paul Ryan, another Trump endorser, have been forced to confirm publicly that they do not agree with things like Trump’s proposal to ban all foreign Muslims from entering the United States, even as they continue to insist that he is the best candidate for the presidency.
On Tuesday, after President Obama excoriated Trump’s proposals as un-American and dangerous, the Republican National Committee issued a press release attacking Obama’s position on gun control, but without mentioning the man its voters have selected to be the party’s leader.
On the RNC homepage Wednesday, a visitor looks in vain for a photo of Trump or even a single mention of his name. Click through to the official GOP Store, and you can buy a vintage 1984 Reagan-Bush t-shirt, George H.W. Bush socks, an “I miss W” baseball cap or a Dick Cheney cowboy hat. But there is no Trump merchandise for sale.
To be fair, the RNC may be holding back because Trump is not the official nominee until the party’s convention takes place next month. But it doesn’t look as though even the organization charged with getting him elected president is terribly enthusiastic about tying itself to the increasingly tarnished Trump brand.