The New York Times says Donald Trump is toast, running this headline:
Donald Trump’s Bombast Seems to Be Wearing Out Its Welcome
No sooner was that story published than a quite different story appeared, generating this headline only hours later on CNN:
Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton lead in swing state polling
The CNN story was a report on a brand new Quinnipiac poll that reports in detail on Trump’s standing as follows:
“Those who were waiting for Donald Trump’s campaign to collapse will need to wait longer — at least in the three key states of Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
No kidding. This newest poll is a humiliating blow to the campaigns of three of Trump’s GOP opponents in particular. Take a look here at these pairings:
• Florida: Trump: 28%, Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio 14%
• Florida: Trump 28%, Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush 12%
• Ohio: Trump 23%, Ohio Governor John Kasich 13%
You read that right. Among Republicans, Rubio, Bush, and Kasich are all losing to Donald Trump — in their own home states.
Here is Peter Brown of the Quinnipiac Poll again, on Bush and Rubio’s shocking numbers:
“The generally more energized Republican party members, who backed former Gov. Bush and Sen. Rubio when they ran for office in the Sunshine State, are deserting the establishment candidates for the outsiders — specifically Trump and Carson,” Brown said.
And Brown on Kasich’s numbers:
“Gov. John Kasich’s big card was his enormous popularity in Ohio, generally considered the most important swing state in the November election,” Brown said. “But with Trump zooming well past him in the Buckeye State and Kasich’s numbers in Florida and Pennsylvania in low single digits, the Ohio governor’s campaign is going in the wrong direction.”
Yes, the poll numbers came out after the Times ran its story trying to say Trump was toast. But clearly there is more afoot here when a newspaper runs a major story pronouncing a candidate as “wearing out his welcome” — only to be humiliated when a major poll comes out and says exactly the opposite. Take a look at some of the lines about Trump in the Times story:
When Donald J. Trump responded in July to criticism from one of his Republican rivals, Senator Lindsey Graham, by publicly releasing the South Carolina lawmaker’s cellphone number, the public and the press could not get enough of the jaw-dropping stunt.
But on Monday, when Mr. Trump sent a case of Trump brand bottled water to Senator Marco Rubio’s campaign office — poking fun at the Florida senator’s sweaty debate performance and penchant for chugging water — the prank fell notably flat.
And this means? The Times is saying Trump is, to borrow a phrase, “so over.” There is, says the paper of a record, a “decline in attention for Mr. Trump” and “there are signs that many voters and commentators have at least started to move on.”
As the Quinnipiac Poll definitively illustrates yet again, wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
But that the Times is wrong on Donald Trump isn’t the real issue here. So too have been all manner of mainstream and conservative media been wrong. The real question here is not are they wrong — but why are they wrong? And the answer is as simple as it is obvious.
The media have a love/hate relationship with Donald Trump. They love the color he provides their copy and the jolt to their ratings wherever he appears. He does things for them journalistically that no other candidate of either party can do — period. But the fact of the matter is that when it comes to issues — illegal immigration, guns, abortion, the economy, foreign policy, or anything else — liberals in the media can’t stand him (as they can’t stand any other Republican when the November election day gets from to push-to-shove).
So this not-so-just-below-the-surface antipathy toward Trump bubbles inevitably to the surface, giving voice to a negative media narrative on all things Trump. Some of the narratives thus far include — but are certainly not limited to — the following.
Donald Trump is really a… racist/sexist/gun happy/woman hating/bullying/dangerous/greedy/despicable/contemptuous and bombastic (never forget “bombastic,” the favorite reportorial descriptive of Trump, a synonym for “pompous, grandiloquent, turgid, florid, grandiose,” etc.).
The very fact that Trump has not only survived this kind of media narrative but thrived in spite of it speaks exactly to the depth of outrage across the land at the GOP Establishment, the larger Washington Establishment and, not coincidentally, the media at large which is seen as an ally of both.
Presidential campaigns unfold in an organic fashion. They live — and they can die. What they don’t do is obey media narratives. Rick Perry got all the media hoopla. Ditto Scott Walker. They are gone from the field.
The Trump campaign is not only not gone from the field, he’s leading the field. The Washington Post headlines:
Donald Trump plots his second act
In which the Post reports that:
Trump laid out for the first time in detail the elements of what will be the second chapter of his 2016 bid, signaling an evolution toward a somewhat more traditional campaign. Trump is preparing his first television ads with a media firm that is new to politics. Melania, his wife, and Ivanka, his daughter, are planning public appearances highlighting women’s health issues to help close Trump’s empathy gap with female voters.
Trump is also publishing a book and planning to roll out policies on reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs and on trade and China’s currency manipulations. And he is deepening his political organization far beyond the early states, with top advisers vowing that his fight for the nomination will go all the way to the floor of the Republican National Convention.
Say again that last line. The Trump “fight for the nomination will go all the way to the floor of the Republican National Convention.” As the newest poll illustrates vividly: with reason.
And no media narrative, no matter how often it is chanted by outlets like the New York Times, is going to change a very central fact of political life.
In the vernacular?
Donald Trump is killing ’em. And the media can’t stand it.