As we head into the end of the most heartbreaking presidential cycle in American history my guess is that we will be talking about “President Elect Trump” at the end of the week. Of course I say that having thought Mitt Romney was going to beat Barack Obama 4 years ago…
A President Trump will present the nation with a raft of challenges… The first is the hope that his thin skin and short temper or his mancrush on Vladimir Putin don’t get us into a war. Beyond that, there are countless other things we hope he gets right, such as the Supreme Court, actually building a wall and streamlining the tax code. I say hope because if Donald Trump has shown us one thing, it’s been that he’ll say whatever he thinks will get him what he wants, and that his words and his deeds are often different by galactic proportions.
But this piece isn’t about Donald Trump… This piece is about the so called “conservative media” such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Fox News, Drudge, etc. For decades we’ve listened to these people or outlets tell us that the mainstream media is nothing more than a mouthpiece for the Democrat party. They’ve shown us, time and time again the hypocrisy of the New York Times, CNBC, the AP, CBS and the rest. And they’ve largely been right. If it’s Scooter Libby being falsely accused of leaking secrets he’s enemy number 1, but if it’s Hillary Clinton leaving classified information on a deliberately unsecure server open to hacking, it’s nothing more than the Republicans trying to destroy a strong woman for a minor oversight.
The question is, will the “conservative” media be half or even a quarter as objective when it comes to a President Trump? Frankly, I doubt it. Thus far, through the election cycle, Breitbart, Drudge, Rush and most of all Sean Hannity have been nothing more than bootlickers for Donald Trump. Can you imagine their response if Harry Reid had been caught on tape talking about grabbing women the way Donald Trump was? Can you imagine what their response would have been had Nancy Pelosi said that he could stand in the middle of the street and shoot someone and get away with it? What would their response be if Barack Obama had refused to release his tax returns or if the claims of charitable giving and the reality had been as different as it appears to be with Donald Trump? My guess is that the conservative media would have had a field day with all of that. But Donald Trump gets a pass on that and much more.
We already know that the mainstream media will vilify a President Trump at every turn. But that, frankly, is unimportant. Why? Because we already know that the mainstream media is indeed a Democrat tool, and, more importantly, their decades of hyperbole as it relates to Republicans have caused a significant segment of the population to simply tune them out. When the Democrat media painted Mitt Romney as a horrible human being who abused dogs and let family members of employees die, you knew they were utterly worthless. There were many things with which one could disagree with Romney on, but he is fundamentally a good man and most Americans recognize that. As such, when a mere four years later the media started to try and flail Donald Trump, who is much closer to actually being a vile human being, many people brushed it off as just more of the same.
With much of the public the mainstream media has zero credibility as a source of actual, factual news. Although a President Trump may give them much fodder to work with that is demonstrably true, like the boy who cried wolf, a significant portion of the population will dismiss it simply because of their long history of past cries. And so we are left with a conservative media to keep a President Trump and his ego in check. Two years ago I would have bet that it was possible to depend on Rush, Matt and Breitbart to keep an errant GOP president in check, but today I have grave doubts… and that’s a problem, particularly for a GOP president who has such a big ego, so few morals and almost no concept of limited government or understanding of the Constitution.
If the United States emerges from Donald Trump’s first – and likely only – term as a functioning republic, it will only be because somehow some conservative voice or voices decided that the Constitution was more important than being part of Team Trump and willingly stood up to the populist mob. The reality is, Donald Trump’s acceptance of the Constitution’s separation of powers, his fundamental understanding of the 10th Amendment and his dedication to individual liberty are no greater than Barack Obama’s are. But Barack Obama had conservatives who challenged his usurping of power, even if Congress and the Courts didn’t. Donald Trump will not have that thorn.
While it’s certain that the mainstream media will hold his feet to the fire, their credibility is gone. It will only be conservatives who point to the Constitution as the fount of – and yoke on – government power who will have the credibility to objectively challenge his actions. The behavior of the “conservative” media over the last year one does have inspire great confidence that they will challenge President Trump as he seeks to turn Washington into his personal fiefdom. But I’m open to being pleasantly surprised. Let’s hope that somewhere there emerges a voice who will not fall under the spell of the next Narcissist in Chief when he succeeds our current one. Maybe then the discussion can get back to limiting government to only those things it’s actually empowered to do rather than the things that the strongman in the White House wants it to do.