On Monday, the panel of MSNBC’s Deadline: White House giddily dished about whether they might have finally stumbled upon a narrative that could cause President Trump to lose the support of his otherwise consistent base.
As the panel covered the Rob Porter domestic abuse scandal, Donny Deutsch speculated that some less “evolved” Americans might continue to support Donald Trump because they consider victims of domestic abuse “collateral damage.” He lamented that “most of them are not watching news."
Time writer and former Rand Paul aide Elise Jordan was more optimistic about the media’s prospects of shaking loose some stubborn Trump supporters. She recalled a political conversation she’d had with some conservative women in her hometown of Holly Springs, Mississipi and admitted she was “surprised” that “everyone is horrified” about the domestic abuse allegations against former White House staffer Rob Porter.
“But does it change the way they would vote?” asked a frustrated Deutsch.
“It does if the candidate going up against him isn’t Hillary Clinton,” Jordan smiled. “It’s wearing away, Donny.”
However, New York Times journalist Bret Stephens was less optimistic. “You can’t shame a person who is unwilling to be shamed.” He continued:
That was the lesson of the Billy Bush tape, that was the lesson of the election. When you just read that list of everything that has happened in what, the last five weeks, six weeks? I was like, gee, I don't even remember these things, that should have been like, epic explosions.
Stephens was referring to a list of recent headlines that host Nicolle Wallace had read at the beginning of the segment. The list had included the Nunes memo and the government shutdown, among other media scandals. The complaint by Stephens that these events “should have been... explosions” would seem nonsensical if he had been referring to the amount and the intensity of the coverage that they had received. In that regard, both the memo and the shutdown certainly were explosive. Given the context, it is reasonable to assume that Stephens was using the impact these events had on Trump's approval ratings as his metric for explosiveness.
Wallace turned again to Jordan for reassurance:
Let’s just assert it, the Russia investigation has not done Donald Trump much political harm. Do you think that defending men who abuse women and men accused of sexual misconduct is going to be the thing that starts to eat away even at his 35%?
After a brief exchange with Deutsch, Jordan answered in the affirmative: “This narrative has sunk in.”
“I hope you’re right,” Deutsch responded.