2016 — February 23, 2016 at 3:52 pm

Don’t count on the media to beat Trump


Trump and Todd

Yesterday I explained why billion-dollar baby Donald Trump’s boast that he will win Michigan makes almost no sense.

Strategist and pontificater Dana Houle added another key point: Michigan has the largest Muslim population of any state. George W. Bush won the Muslim vote in 2000 while losing the state and that population has only grown since then. And Muslim-Americans probably don’t like the idea that Trump wants to shut down mosques and such.

But obviously my post was not enough to calm a frenzied nation.

In the last twenty-four hours, as the realization that Donald Trump is likely to be the Republican nominee sinks in with a surreal sense of horror, there have been two widely circulated pieces that Trump could win by winning states in the Rust Belt, which may or may not include Michigan. The Nation‘s John Nichols and The Huffington Post‘s Zach Carter and Ryan Grim are both working off what seems to be a blaring warning bell from the AFL-CIO that Trump could do well with working-class white men.

Democrats are rightly afraid that we’ll make the same mistake Republicans did, which is sitting stunned as Trump mocked them into a victory.

Clay Shirky laid out a pretty compelling argument that Trump is using social media to act as a parasite to invade and take over the GOP. This effect will only magnify as the year goes along and the party that warned us that Trump was getting kind of Hitlerly decides their nominee is the new Reagan.

The Washington Post’s Dan Drezner suggests that the party elites never recognized the threat Trump posed and, based on conventional wisdom, they expected the media coverage that built up Trump to eventually engulf the demagogue. The belief that someone else would take care of the problem somewhat stifled the desire to build a coordinated attack.

But The New Republic‘s Heer Jeet lays out a key point in a tweetstorm on why he thinks Trump can’t win. Namely: Most of the things you can attack Trump for – his business record, his sexism and his birtherism – only help him in the primary and would hurt those attached to the attacks.

His outward bigotry acts as his conservative credentials and his years of posing as a the king of all businessman on The Apprentice make attacks on his record of suspected fraud, mysterious business alliances, and exploitation come off like backhanded praise.

The most important thing to remember is the media isn’t going to beat Trump for you. They’re going to help him win, whether they mean to or not.

NBC’s Chuck Todd chucked some todd when Trump turned some of his crowd’s constant vitriol on the press earlier this week. But the GOP front-runner is too good of a story, too good of an interview, and too good of a profit center to ask a media with an even weaker immune system than the conservative movement to do the necessary vetting on a candidate created by Fox and Friends.

Democrats are wise to begin plotting the counter-assault now because Trump’s unhinged nature makes him a unique threat. But it’s also a unique opportunity to tie the GOP to Trump’s bigoted wailing and lust for mass deportations forever.

That’s what happened in California when Pete Wilson waged a nearly identical campaign against immigrants in 1994. But every time we make that comparison we have to remind ourselves that Wilson won that race.