How Fox News Has Propelled Donald Trump to the Nomination
I don’t think anyone expected Donald Trump to enjoy the phenomenal success he has since announcing his candidacy for the presidency. Did he have the name recognition? Yes. Was he successful? Yes. Did he have the financial backing? Yes. (His own, mostly) Was he politically savvy? No. Not even a little bit. And, this was not Donald Trump’s first rodeo. Since the late 1980’s, Trump has publicly mulled the idea of a presidential bid in multiple election cycles, and even entered the race as a Reform Party candidate in 2000, dropping out in February of that year.
Also, Donald Trump’s penchant for provocative statements is not exactly a useful trait for someone running for political office. Oddly enough it ultimately worked to his benefit, as voters found his outspokenness and political “incorrectness” a nice change in our current climate. With all this in mind though, he was not seen as a serious contender. Adding to the equation the fact that he was up against sixteen talented candidates, his chances seemed slim to none.
That was last summer. Today, things look much different. That promising field of seventeen has dwindled to three, with Donald Trump leading the pack. Of course, to secure the prize, he has to reach a threshold of 1237 delegates before the Republican National Convention in July. With his current delegate count of 845, he’s still short of the mark. If he does not reach the magic number of 1237, the GOP will find itself in a contested convention where the nominee will be chosen by the delegates. There are all kinds of rules binding delegates to certain candidates through the first or second ballot, but usually by the third ballot all delegates are free to vote for the candidate of their choosing. Contested conventions are a rare occurrence in the history of the GOP, and undesirable because of the likelihood of a fractured party and “bloodied” candidate.
In 1976, President Ford entered the Republican convention short of the requisite number, and found himself in a competition with Ronald Reagan. Of course, President Ford secured the needed votes on the first ballot, and the suspense was over. The last time a convention advanced beyond the first ballot vote was in 1952, when the Democratic convention selected Adlai Stevenson.
So what has propelled Donald Trump to his current spot at the top of the leader board? In a word, media. In my humble opinion, Fox News is the main culprit. Since his entrance into the primary, Donald Trump has received nearly $2 billion dollars in free media coverage, with nearly $30 million coming from Fox News Channel. I call them the main culprit, because as a well-known and highly popular conservative news organization they carry a lot of weight with those of us who identify ourselves as Republican, and especially, Conservative. I’m a regular viewer of Fox News, or was anyway.
By legitimizing Trump’s candidacy with their unprecedented coverage and their obvious support for him, they have given him the green light among voters. If FNC, the conservative media giant, is for him who should be against him?
The enamor of Trump, other than how it translates to ratings, escapes me. The anchors and commentators at Fox are very knowledgeable politically. There is simply no way they can sincerely believe that he possesses the skill set to lead our country. The man cannot even complete a sentence. His performance in debates, other than his one-liners and insults, is abysmal. Of course, they most often spin it as a win for him, but anyone who has watched him attempt to answer policy questions is well aware that he is in over his head.
As an example, in the CNN debate in December, he was questioned on the nuclear triad. It was clear that he was unfamiliar with the term, and his answer was nonsensical. I’m not trying to slam the man; politics is a complex business and it is not something you can expect to learn in a few months. I don’t see Donald Trump as the type of person who wants to crack the books and start schooling himself in history and geopolitics. That’s just not his thing. He would much rather be on Twitter or calling into a news show with some incendiary remark. However, the presidency should not be an entry level position.
While Fox News might find Trump’s effectively turning the GOP upside down refreshing, I find it downright scary. Just this past week, he announced that he wants to change the GOP platform on abortion, allowing exceptions for rape, incest and the health of the mother. This is no small matter. We’re talking about a basic tenet of the Republican Party, and Fox News has been mute on the subject. The abortion issue is complex, and I will not get into it here, but anyone who deludes himself into thinking Donald Trump is a Conservative is going to pay a high price in November. He is not now, nor has he ever been conservative. Fox News portrayal of him as such is disingenuous, to say the least. I must add there are a few at FNC who refuse to jump on the “Trump train”. Stephen Hayes, Charles Krauthammer, Brit Hume, Megyn Kelly, Bret Baier and Greg Gutfeld have resisted the urge to fawn over Donald Trump.
Every poll from the beginning of the primary season has shown Hillary Clinton will crush Trump in a general election, so any of the other sixteen candidates would have been preferable as a nominee. A contested convention may be our only hope for selecting an electable candidate. Of course, Trump has continued to fire up his supporters with how the GOP is attempting to steal the nomination from him, insuring rioting at the convention if he doesn’t win. He seems incapable of understanding that going into the convention short of 1237 delegates means he didn’t win. His accusations of delegates being “unfairly” awarded in individual primaries discount the fact that each state has its own rules.
Personally, I hope he does as he threatened early on and leaves the GOP to run as an Independent. With Trump, it’s a lose/lose anyway, and I would rather lose with a credible candidate who reflects the brand of the GOP, than see our party trampled by the likes of Donald Trump. No one man is worth the destruction of the Republican Party.
Fox News is complicit in Donald Trump’s success. They have elevated him over the other candidates, promoted his platform, and given him a pass on hard policy questions. (Again, I am not referencing all the commentators at Fox News). Their selective representation of his policies, failure to hold his feet to the fire on releasing tax returns and total dismissal of his past liberal views, should weigh heavy on them in November.