Red America’s most popular presidential candidate has declared war on its “Most Trusted News Source,” and bloviators across the right-wing bubble are scrambling to pick a side.
Less than 24 hours after Donald Trump announced his boycott of Thursday’s Fox News debate, Rush Limbaugh opened his show with a 30-minute windup on how difficult this subject was, considering that he has golfed with virtually everyone involved. Ultimately, conservative radio’s papal authority offered more analysis than judgement of Trump’s actions.
“It’s very simple: He had an unpleasant experience in the first debate,” Limbaugh explained. “So he says, ‘Screw this, I’m not putting myself in position like that. Screw the rules,’ he says, ‘Why should I willingly give them another shot at me, in a circumstance they control?’”
Limbaugh argued that Fox News does in fact have it out for Trump — the whole political class does — because his success calls into question the wisdom of every political expert and all the rules by which American politics is played.
“The political business is like every other business. It has its people who are considered the elites in it, and they hate outsiders,” the host said. “And Trump is functioning outside this structure, and as such, the people who are only familiar with this structure, who cherish it and want to protect it, feel threatened in ways you can’t even comprehend.”
Limbaugh didn’t criticize Fox News for refusing to remove Megyn Kelly from the moderator’s table, as Trump has demanded. But he did say he was “stunned” at how the network had rewarded Trump’s provocations with wall-to-wall coverage.
“Donald Trump knows that by not showing up, he owns the entire event, and the proof of that is Fox News last night,” Limbaugh said. “Fox News was acting like they were jilted at the altar. If Trump made a big to-do about not showing up for me, I’d report it and move on. Don’t devote the rest of the night to how a candidate’s not showing up because of you.”
The host added that, despite the network’s claims, Trump is not afraid of Fox News. "There isn’t any fear," he said. "What there is, is a desire for control."
Meanwhile, Ann Coulter swore her allegiance to the Trumpist insurrection.
Breitbart also backed Trump, framing his feud with the network as a battle over the GOP’s position on immigration via the headline “The Anti-Trump Network: Fox News Money Flows Into Open Borders Group.”
“In asking the question of ‘what’s wrong over there?’ Trump has shined a spotlight on one of Washington’s best kept secrets: namely, Fox’s role via its founder Rupert Murdoch in pushing an open borders agenda,” staff writer Julia Hahn wrote.
Both Breitbart and conservative radio host Wayne Dupree made much hay of Megyn Kelly inviting left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore onto her program Tuesday night.
Rules for Patriots author Steve Deace chided Dupree for lending a hand to “Planned Parenthood’s favorite Republican.”
Conservative Iowa radio host Simon Conway called Trump’s boycott “ballsy,” while RedState argued that Fox News was actually the one who had displayed testicular fortitude.
Among Trump’s fiercest defenders was MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough. After playing a montage of Kelly criticizing the Donald, Scarborough snarked, “That is just good unbiased journalism, and if I were a candidate I certainly would want that person asking me questions in a fair and a balanced way.”
The Morning Joe host concluded, “As I said before, I would rather set myself on fire in front of the Fox News studio than go on a debate stage with that.”
On Tuesday morning, Trump had assured Scarborough that his future administration would be willing to cut deals with Democrats — a sentiment that played fine with cable-news RINOs, but unsettled a lot of movement conservatives. In fact, those comments drew far more ire from right-wing radio than Trump’s debate boycott, with Limbaugh taking extended exception, and Laura Ingraham asking rhetorically, “Nancy Pelosi? What kind of deal are you going to do with her?”
But on the boycott itself, America’s foremost defender of Japanese internment put it best: