Cracks in the Conservative Media Armor
President Trump’s impeachment by the House of Representatives seems increasingly likely, setting up a trial in the Senate.
How Republicans sitting as jurors handle their responsibility might be dependent upon the party’s leadership – but I’m not referring to Majority Leader Mitch Mcconnell and his cohorts.
Im talking about the conservative media, where some cracks have recently appeared in the president’s firewall.
Over the last 30 years, the triumvirate of talk radio, Fox News and The Drudge Report have supplanted the conventional, Republican Party apparatus.
This is the glue of the GOP, where the base gets its guidance and marching orders, and the influence is especially felt in primary season, in closed primary states. That’s why it’s significant that at both Fox News and The Drudge Report there have recently been signs of discontent with the president.
Donald Trump’s candidacy was welcomed at Drudge with headlines encouraging like these:
"The Donald Goes for the White House!"
Trump Rocks Race!
Then, after he was elected- "Now They Take Him Seriously”
"Trump Rocks the House - Five Minute Standing Ovation”
"President for Ten Weeks -- Give Him a Break"
But things have changed.
"Transcript Released! Republican Cracks Emerge!"
"Fox Shock - 51 percent want Trump Removed"
And with this ominous photo,
"Fear: Whistleblower Asks to Testify in Writing"
Ironically, Drudge became the go-to source for Conservatives in the last American impeachment process, trumpeting every negative development for President Bill Clinton.
In January 1998, it was Drudge who first revealed that Newsweek had killed a Michael Isikoff story on the White House intern scandal hours before publication.
And then in 1999 - that NBC's Dateline was not releasing an explosive interview with a woman named Juanita Broddrick, who accused Bill Clinton of a past sexual assault.
Drudge's turn against Trump has received the notice of his friend Rush Limbaugh - who wonders about his motivation:
"My email inbox every day, 'what's happening to Drudge, rush? And I tell people, 'have you ever heard of clicks?’"
So - is Drudge doing it because he has soured on Trump or because he's sensing a shift in his readership?
Either way it’s not good for the president and raises a question of who else might follow?
And this comes at a time when the president is warring with certain elements of Fox News.
On Thursday, after a Fox survey revealed that 51% of americans support impeachment, Trump tweeted:
"From the day I announced I was running for president, I have never had a good @foxnews poll, whoever their pollster is, they suck."
That night, at his rally in Minneapolis, he was quick to single out for praise those hosts whose support he continues to enjoy.
"Ainsley and Steve and, by the way, Brian's gotten a lot better. He was a 7, he's getting close to a 10 territory.”
Then he brought up Pete Hegseth and Jesse Watters. Folks in the crowd shouted Tucker Carlson's name.
"Tucker's been very good," Trump said. Then: "The legendary Sean Hannity!" he praised Hannity's ratings. Then it was Fox Business network's turn. He gave Maria Bartiromo a shoutout. And "The great Lou Dobbs."
Not on the “nice” list was Sheppard Smith – who quit Fox News yesterday.
So… two legs of Trump’s support stool are now wobbly – Drudge and Fox. So far there’s no sign of wavering on AM talk radio.
But the impact of any weakening will certainly impact the GOP base, which in turn, will influence the senate jurors if and when the Upper House convenes to hear articles of impeachment.