National Review was created by the great William F. Buckley, Jr., the brilliant pioneer of the modern conservative movement. Throughout the current presidential campaign season, NR has been a consistent critic of Donald Trump, whose conservatism it views with, to say the least, skepticism. And so it was entirely consistent for NR to publish "Against Trump," a special edition appearing today that assembles essays by an array of leading conservatives, including our own L. Brent Bozell.
That said, "Against Trump" came in for a barrage of criticism on today's Morning Joe. John Heilemann called it an "in-kind contribution" to Trump, by depicting him in precisely the way he prefers: as pitted against the Establishment. And Nicolle Wallace said it was a "stupid move and a stupid piece" that risks splitting the conservative media from the conservative base.
Note: Wallace also criticized the timing of the edition, saying that by coming just 10 days before voting begins in Iowa, it looks "desperate." But it might just as easily be argued that the timing made strategic sense, awaiting a moment when attention is most focused on the race, and thus having the greatest impact.
JOHN HEILEMANN: First of all, I'd say about the National Review, there's nothing the National Review could do more to help Donald Trump than to put out an issue like this. It's like an in-kind campaign contribution for the establishment to attack Trump. It helps him with his people. It's where Trump wants to be. It reinforces his message.
. . .
NICOLLE WALLACE: Back to the National Review. I think the establishment, and particularly the conservative media, is in a real dangerous spot right now. There was a moment to make the anti-Trump case. It was about six-and-a-half months ago.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: It's passed.
WALLACE: It has passed. And now it looks like disdain and arrogance when -- the voters have now spoken. They're about to vote. We're 10 days out from voting. This move looks to me so desperate --
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Disconnected, also.
WALLACE: -- it really risks cleaving the conservative media apart in an almost irreparable manner from not just the base of our party, but the opportunity the party has to expand its numbers. I think it's a stupid move and a stupid piece.