Trump vs. Conservative Media: The War Is On
Policy + Politics

Trump vs. Conservative Media: The War Is On

Recent media coverage of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has noted that the loudmouthed billionaire currently leading the Republican field in public opinion polls has been increasingly eager to complain to his audiences about how the “dishonest” media is covering his campaign.

Floating theories about NBC suppressing coverage of its own polls in order to report on other findings less friendly to Trump and about the heat on the stage at CNN’s debate last week, the real estate mogul and former reality television star has come across as a little bit paranoid.

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Of course, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t meant they aren’t out to get you.

Trump actually is attracting the ire of much of the media, but unlike many Republican candidates convinced that the “liberal” mainstream media is tilting the field against them, Trump is more beset lately by right-leaning outlets.

On Wednesday night, Trump went ballistic on Twitter after Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, said in an appearance on the Fox News program “The Kelly File” that during last week’s debate fellow candidate Carly Fiorina had “cut his balls off” with her attacks on his business record.

Trump raged that Lowry is “clueless” and “incompetent” and that Fox ought to apologize to him for allowing the conservative pundit to use such “foul language” on television.

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The appearance of Lowry on a Fox show hosted by anchor Megyn Kelly was something of a perfect storm for Trump conspiracy-mongering. Last month, Trump accused Kelly and Fox News generally of treating him unfairly in the first presidential debate, sparking a feud between the candidate and the conservative news network that was briefly allayed when Roger Ailes, the head of Fox News, called Trump to make peace.

The Trump-Fox conflict, since reignited, can only be inflamed by Lowry’s performance last night, but the number one cable news network in the country is not the only arm of the conservative media taking on The Donald.

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Conservative Washington Post columnist and Sunday talk show regular George Will has been attacking Trump’s fitness for office for months, writing memorably in August that “Every sulfurous belch from the molten interior of the volcanic Trump phenomenon injures the chances of a Republican presidency.”

Charles Krauthammer, another conservative who like Will writes for the Post and appears regularly on the Sunday shows, has been a frequent Trump critic as well.

But if criticism from the Washington Post editorial pages and the National Review can be dismissed as the Republican establishment circling the wagons to protect its own, the same can’t be said for many of the other elements of the conservative media universe that have turned on Trump.

Last month, Erick Erickson, the founder of the conservative website RedState, a popular venue with the Tea Party wing of the GOP, banned Trump from speaking at an event his group was sponsoring. Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt in early September embarrassed Trump by exposing gaps in his foreign policy knowledge in a one-on-one interview.

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The Federalist, a relatively young online conservative publication that has quickly gained influence, has mercilessly chronicled the billionaire candidate’s political stumbles and policy failings.

So when Trump complains about his treatment by the media, remember, he may be paranoid, but that doesn’t mean he’s wrong.