RUSH: Snerdley brought me something today. The Politico has — I’m holding this in my formerly nicotine-stained fingers. This is big, folks. Now, this is one of these things I probably might not want to talk about, but I’m sort of getting tired of not being able to say certain things here because of who might hear it and what might then result.
It’s not that I don’t trust you people to keep secrets. It’s that everybody listens to this show. You wouldn’t be believe the latest audience numbers. That’s another thing I’m wondering telling you. Anyway, The Politico here, when you print this out, 16 pages — is that what you told me this is? Snerdley submitted this to me with a paper clip, 16 pages, this Politico story.
And here’s the headline: “How Trump Blew Up the Conservative Media — Inside the new power dynamics roiling Fox, Breitbart and the Wall Street Journal.” And it’s written by Eliana Johnson, who is the daughter of Scott Johnson, who’s one of the three guys at the Power Line blog. I think she was an intern, then a writer at National Review. Now she’s joined the Drive-Bys over at The Politico. I think we have an implant here, an embed.
Anyway, 16 pages: “How Trump Blew Up the Conservative Media.” Guess who’s not mentioned here? Can you guess who’s not mentioned in a 16-page story on conservative media being blown up? That’s right, my friends, me, your host. And you know why? ‘Cause I have not been blown up. We have not been blown up. We are not conflicted at all here at the EIB Network.
We have absolutely no qualms about how we’ve handled anything, how we’re doing anything, how this program is done, how it’s put together, how it’s performed, how it’s executed. We have no conflict, no doubts, no worries whatsoever. But apparently many in the conservative media have been rocked and roiled by the Trump presidency and the campaign and trying to figure out what their position is and should be.
Snerdley brought this in. “You’re not even in it, you’re not.” I said, “That’s good, that’s good.” He said, “Why?” I said, “It’s good, it’s good, we’re not blown up.” “Oh, yeah. That’s right.” And we aren’t. This stuff doesn’t affect us anyway. I’ve always told you, my success has nothing to do with who wins elections. Not gonna give ’em that kind of power. Those guys come and go. I don’t have any say-so what they say, do, or believe anyway. It’s always been a mistake to make personal investments in people in politics.
RUSH: I did not have time to go through this whole thing, but I have been rummaging through this gigantic Politico story, “How Trump Blew Up the Conservative Media — Inside the new power dynamics roiling Fox, Breitbart and the Wall Street Journal.”
Now, I haven’t finished it all, but it seems to me that part of this story is based on efforts by some conservative media to get close to Trump to be able to say that they are the intellectual energy behind Trump. That they are the people or the paper or the person that Trump consults for advice or what have you.
And then, of course, there are people that lost in that effort, and they then got a little sour on Trump, became less supportive, then demanded that Trump supporters abandon him because Trump was destroying conservatism, he wasn’t conservative, he was redefining it for people that didn’t know any better to be populism or nationalism.
It really boils down to how the Trump ascendancy, the campaign and the presidency has highlighted problems for conservatism. As I say, I haven’t read the whole thing. But I made reference to this happening during the campaign of 2016, particularly as it related to explaining the Never Trumpers, who occupied the conservative right.
And basically you boil it down to this. For years there have been magazines and think tanks and other conservative media for, we’re talking decades here, who have published and broadcast and conducted seminars on the basis that they are the definition of conservatism and that they are the spear carriers and that they are carrying the weight. They’re doing the heavy lifting. They’re doing the heavy intellectual lifting and spreading the word.
They’re seeking to define it for everybody, and they’re working hard to have members of Congress influenced by it and so forth. And they’ve been asking for donations all this time to continue this great work of defining conservatism and influencing power brokers and policy makers to be conservative.
And it was a great arrangement, and it worked quite well for the longest time, because conservative citizens are loyal, and they are very much aware of the attacks daily on conservatism. And they very astutely understood the importance of supporting conservative media wherever it was. But then Trump came along and just blew everything up. Trump excited the people more than your average conservative organization of any kind ever had.
And what really transpired was the fear on the part of many Never Trumpers that Trump was going to expose, not the irrelevance, but the overall ineffectiveness of years and years, decades and decades of conservatism in think tanks and in media and in publications and so forth. Because there hadn’t been any advances in it. Republicans are getting elected, but they weren’t conservative, and there were not conservative ideas finding their way into legislation.
And despite the fact that they were winning elections, despite the fact that conservatives were donating to Republicans, Republicans were campaigning as conservatives, promising to do X, Y, and Z, get elected, didn’t do it. They reverted to inside-the-Beltway moderates or establishmentarians or what have you. Then Trump comes along and just, in a sense, demonstrated how that entire conservative infrastructure wasn’t necessary to beat the left, to beat Democrats. And that posed a great fear. I mean, that constituted a great fear.
If some guy who’s not even a conservative can come along and demonstrate without any Washington experience, political acumen whatsoever, some guy can come along and mop the floor with Democrats and a lot of others said, “Oh, my God, we’re about to be exposed here.” And so the Never Trumpersphere was born. And it was rooted in pure, thoroughbred conservatism and the fact that Trump wasn’t and isn’t one and therefore posed a great, great risk to conservatism, and we must not allow that to happen.
And I think that’s really the genesis of a story like this. I mean, the Wall Street Journal used to be the Bible, its editorial page used to be the Bible for conservatism, but it became Never Trump. And they did everything they can to defeat Trump. Now since Trump has won the election and Rupert Murdoch has sidled up to Trump, the Journal, who he owns, slowly but surely changing a little bit, becoming less opposed to Trump. Not openly embracing him, but allowing that there’s maybe some potential here of possibility.
Fox is portrayed in its own way. Breitbart is portrayed as a great big winner in this internecine battle in conservatism, because they were early behind Trump, and one of their guys is now Trump’s chief strategist and so forth. As I say, I haven’t read the whole thing. This is one of these areas where I’m wading very near the quicksand here. I’m not trying to be critical of anybody, but if you’re gonna talk about this, you have to talk about it honestly.
I think the real problem here is not Trump; it’s the fact that — and I said this during the campaign too. I said if you’re a Trump voter and you’re a former conservative — well, you’re still a conservative, but you are gravitating to Trump during the campaign, the reason had to be, in part, that people like that were asking, “What’s conservatism actually done for me? I’ve sent it money; I’ve donated here; I’ve voted for it left and right in the name of the Republican Party, and what’s it got me?”
Because Trump came along and started just running rings around everybody and collecting a large group of active, engaged supporters that many feared came from the ranks of conservative donors and so forth. So there was panic in that regard. It’s still shaking out. But I just want to remind you that I, El Rushbo, am not found in this story because I have been roiled by any of it. I have not found myself affected negatively by Trump’s rise in any way, shape, manner, or form, except within the conservative movement, where I have often been portrayed in the last year and a half or two and a half years now as a traitor to the cause.
What nobody understood — well, enough of that. That’s just basically what this is, and maybe if I have more time I’ll spend more time digging into it. But I have a sense that that is pretty much it.
RUSH: Okay, to the phones. Fort Worth, Texas, Dan, great to have you with us. I’m glad you called, sir. How are you?
CALLER: Rush, it’s an honor. I’ve been listening to you since your loser updates in 1988.
RUSH: Thank you. I appreciate that. The loser updates. Yes.
CALLER: Anyway, hey, I was listening to you talking about people were upset about Trump not being conservative enough. You know, he’s not the purist conservative that I would have preferred as far as ideology, but there’s no conservative out there who can get as much of the conservative agenda across the finish line as he did.
RUSH: Bingo. Before him, there wasn’t one!
RUSH: Well, the so-called conservatives were — (crosstalk)
CALLER: — I thought had a better conservative pedigree, but as it turns out, this guy’s doing more with less —
RUSH: Well, the people you’re talking about that had great pedigrees didn’t run! They stayed there and they wrote and they pontificated and they went on cruises and stuff, but they didn’t run, they didn’t run for office. So all this great conservatism people never really had a chance to vote for it.
CALLER: He is without a doubt the most effective conservative that we’ll ever come — well, the next 10 years.
RUSH: I want to properly state this. Donald Trump is not a conservative, and in his own mind especially he’s not a conservative. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t think that way, and it doesn’t mean that he’s not oriented in that direction, particularly as he sees how the opposition treats him. These are people that used to be friends of his in some regards. New York liberal moderates, they were friends. Now he sees who they really are. And when I say he’s not a conservative, I mean he’s not a doctrinaire, ideological conservative. He cannot tell you who Edmund Burke is. He cannot tell you who Friedrich Hayek is. And he’s not interested. Doesn’t mean he doesn’t — he’s not interested in that.
Donald Trump doesn’t size things up this way. He looks at problems that need to be fixed, and he thinks he’s got an abundance of common sense, and his way’s the right way, the only way, and he’s gonna do it. You know what he’s doing today? He’s heading over the Treasury department to do what he can to blow up Dodd-Frank with executive orders, and to do what he can do with the tax code. Since the Congress won’t help him in anything right now, he’s doing as much as he can with executive orders. He’s not stopping.
But he doesn’t get up and say, “What conservative things can I do today?” He doesn’t get up and say, “What are the liberals doing today that I can really humiliate and embarrass them with?” He doesn’t do that. He gets up and looks at the problems that he sees and has identified and does what he can to go about solving them. And he goes out and says, “Yeah, we got the greatest armada that there’s ever been, we got the greatest armada, it’s steaming right now to North Korea.” People, “What? What? Where is it?” They conclude Trump’s a doofus. Doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Mike, grab that theme that we used for Dukakis fundraisers, the Pat Metheny thing that we use, ’cause I want to play it for people. He’s talking about the loser update and I’m sure people are wondering, what the hell is that? Let me know when it come up with it. It goes back to ’88, ’89. You might find Dukakis in the computer reference, might be tagged that way.
At any rate, none of this means that Trump is not accomplishing conservative things, because he clearly is. And in fact he’s probably accomplishing more conservative things than previous Republican presidents who have tried to tell us they’re conservative but they really haven’t been in terms of doctrinaire. But this came down to something. This election wasn’t even about that. This is what conservatives — I for the life of me, this I will not understand.
And I’ll just speak for myself. And I know I’m speaking for you. The objective in this election was twofold. There were two things. Well, three. I’ll throw in a third. The third thing was lack of trust of the Republican Party, because of all the promises, all the elections that people had voted for and won. They won them the House, they won them the Senate. And every time that happened, the Republicans came back and gave another excuse for why they couldn’t do what they said they were gonna do during the campaign.
So the two factors were no way was Hillary Clinton gonna become president. No way. The second thing was, beat the Democrats, beat Obama, beat the left because that’s the source of the problems that most people in the country are facing. Liberalism, socialism, the eight years of Barack Obama and absolute disaster when piled on previous years, say the Clintons and even some of Bush stuff. And so the Trump campaign represented the only shot we had of stopping Hillary and stopping the left. And people rolled the dice and said that, as a priority, is good enough for me.
They weren’t sitting around saying, “I don’t know that Trump’s conservative enough. You know, I don’t want to be betrayed again.” They didn’t look at Trump as betraying them. They didn’t look at Trump as a typical politician. You know the way people looked at the this? Year after year after year, doctrinaire politician after doctrinaire politician gets elected, and nothing changes! It was an opportunity to vote for somebody that had nothing to do with the system that most people thought was standing in their way or not adequately representing them. And the people inside the Beltway and some in the conservative movement never figured this out.
And I’ll tell you why they never figured it out. Because they didn’t agree with you or me that the country was in crisis. They thought we were silly when we said if Hillary Clinton wins, we might lose the country. They were embarrassed when they heard us say that. They thought that was the most asinine thing, because the country wasn’t gonna end for them. Where they live, operate, and work, everything’s fine. They don’t have any illegal immigrant problems. They don’t massive unemployment problems and trade deals are not negatively impacting them.
I don’t care whether they were doctrinaire conservatives or hard-core leftists, if they were part of the DC-New York establishment when they heard people say we’re about to lose the country, they laughed. They thought how absurd, that’s so extreme. We can’t support people who think that way. They did not, they could not get their arms around the idea that the objective was to stop the left, to stop the Democrats, to stop Obama, to stop Hillary. And that’s what Trump was a vessel for.
Now, you add in some real love for Trump, some real attachment to Trump, real connection to Trump based on the fact that people believed Trump, and then you have a slam dunk win. But people were so far removed from the America in which you live that they couldn’t understand it ’cause they don’t see things that way. To them it boiled down to, “Conservatism is being betrayed. You can’t support the man. He’s a phony, he’s a fraud, he’s destroying conservatism. Look at the stupid things he says.”
We didn’t care, ’cause there’s nothing more dangerous and stupid than Democrats, leftists, the media, Hillary Clinton and whoever she would put on the Supreme Court. This was not complicated at all. So many of them didn’t get it.