During Trump’s rambling, incoherent Rose Garden diatribe on Friday to promote his bogus “national emergency” declaration, a reporter asked him whether right-wing pundits had influenced his decision to declare an emergency in order to get around Congress and build a border wall.
“Could you tell us to what degree some of the outside conservative voices helped to shape your views on this national emergency?” asked NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell.
Trump immediately responded by showering praise on Fox News host Sean Hannity — a serial liarwho has been repeatedly caught pushing bigoted stories and smears — for leading the way on the right-wing agenda Trump pursues.
“Sean Hannity has been a terrific, terrific supporter of what I do,” Trump gushed.
“Not of me,” he added quickly. “If I changed my views he wouldn’t be with me.”
Trump then went on to describe the consistently racist Rush Limbaugh, who once called a 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton “the White House dog,” as “a great guy,” and marveled at his ability to “speak for three hours without a phone call” in front of “one of the biggest audiences in the history of the world.”
After Trump continued to swoon over Limbaugh’s broadcasting skills, O’Donnell interrupted him to ask if figures like Hannity or Limbaugh are deciding policy.
“They don’t decide policy,” Trump insisted, adding that if he “went opposite” from the ideas they support, they would not go along with him.
While Trump said that they don’t “decide” policy, his effusive praise for Hannity and Limbaugh when asked about their influence on his policy painted a much different picture.
And by insisting that these pundits would stop supporting him if he made decisions they didn’t like, Trump accidentally confessed the truth: He knows the right-wing figures he so admires might abandon him if he doesn’t do what they want.
In reality, though, it takes a lot for these pundits to abandon Trump. And the influence clearly goes both ways.
Contrary to what Trump said, Hannity quickly changed his tune and supported Trump’s decision to sign a bill funding the government after fuming about it at first. The New York Times reported that the Trump White House reached out to Hannity and Fox Business host Lou Dobbs to get them on board with the funding deal.
At the same time, Hannity and other right-wing media hotheads saw Trump dance to their tune as he invoked the “national emergency” declaration that they have been insisting on for months.
After celebrating Hannity and Limbaugh, Trump also praised columnist Ann Coulter because “she said ‘Donald Trump’” when she was asked who would win the 2016 election. He also said Laura Ingraham, one of his most loyal attack dogs, is “great,” and that Fox News host Tucker Carlson, a favorite of white supremacists, “has been great.”
Trump has long relied on right-wing media to do much of his thinking for him, enlisting Hannity in particular as an informal presidential adviser with frequent telephone calls.
Trump’s decisions to engage in destructive behavior, like shutting down the government or declaring a national emergency, have largely been based on the ranting he watches on Fox during his so-called “executive time.”
In exchange, right-wing media outlets have become Trump’s reliable propagandists, attacking his political enemies and legitimate reporters while unquestioningly promoting his administration’s destructive policies and rhetoric.
Trump owes his political career in large part to the right-wing press, since he used his frequent appearances on Fox News to promote his racist “birther” conspiracy theory against President Barack Obama.
Trump has now used the presidency to completely enshrine the most extreme right-wing voices that are the most detached from reality as the senior shapers of American policy. Their fingerprints are all over ideas of Trump’s that have disrupted the lives of millions of people.
In many instances, thanks to Trump, these absurd figures have far more influence than government agencies and departments staffed with high-level experts.
Thanks to Trump, people like Hannity and Limbaugh are now running the country.
Published with permission of The American Independent.