This week journalists and networks have been in a tizzy after Trump railed against them during rallies in Arizona this week. From openly wondering if he’s a sociopath to worrying his supporters would endanger their lives, journalists have been more concerned with expressing their own paranoia then reporting on the news. But conservative Matt Schlapp tried to break through all the hoopla during Wednesday’s PBS Newshour, explaining to host Judy Woodruff that fighting back at the media is exactly what his voters wanted.
Woodruff started off her conversation with Schlapp (American Conservative Union) and liberal guest Karine Jean-Pierre (MoveOn.org) by asking Schlapp what his reaction to Trump’s polarizing speech in Phoenix was.
Schlapp answered that politics has been divisive since before Trump was in office but each camp has become more entrenched in its ways, and Trump was elected because his supporters wanted a political fight, not peace, with the other side:
“The nation is very divided. The left has never been more left and the right has never been more right, and this president really wasn’t elected, at least his core supporters didn’t elect him because they wanted to bring peace and unity to the country,” he began.
“They were spoiling for a fight because after eight years of Obama, and what they felt being cut out of the system, they wanted to see some advances on some issues they care about. Donald Trump is actually the type of president that his voters asked him to be,” Schlapp explained.
Liberal guest Karine Jean-Pierre called this notion “scary” because Trump was supposed to be president “for all.”
“He’s being more-and-more divider-in-chief,” she stated.
PBS then played a clip from the rally where Trump accused the media of trying to sow more division and strife with their reporting, including giving undue attention to hate groups. Woodruff then wondered if these accusations leveled at the media was “also” what his voters elected him to do.
“Absolutely,” Schlapp responded. “[C]onservatives have been fighting with the national media for a long time because they feel like they just don’t get a fair shake. If you look at the Harvard study that came out recently on news coverage, all the big networks and the big media outlets, it skewed way against Trump. It skewed way to the left. If you look at all the surveys of reporters and who they tend to vote for politically and their political leanings, it skews to the left,” he began.
Jean-Pierre had a completely different take, claiming that white supremacists were “pledging their allegiance” to Trump, not attacking the media:
It doesn’t at all. And from what I can remember, the white supremacists that were marching in Charlottesville, they weren’t pledging their allegiance to The New York Times or CNN. They were pledging their allegiance to Donald Trump. Some of them were saluting to the Nazi flag in his name. And so, the fake news is coming from Donald Trump, or we are — we are essentially following everything that he is saying. So, we’re not making this up. These are his words. All we have to do is play back the tapes.
When that tactic didn’t break down Schlapp, Woodruff moved on to ask how Trump’s attacks against fellow Republicans, like John McCain, “helped” him.
Schlapp said it was fair for Trump to call out their lies, as McCain and Murkowski both “went around the country” telling Americans that they were committed to repeal and replace ObamaCare, but then voted against it after Trump became president.
Its worse than what the President said. There’s actually six Republican senators, who switched their vote on a copycat vote. In 2015, they voted to repeal ObamaCare, knowing Obama would veto it. This time, they didn’t vote that way because they knew it would become law. Why did they go around this country for 7.5 years saying they would vote to repeal it?
Woodruff didn’t take Schlapp’s answer seriously and turned to her liberal guest to get the answer she wanted. “But what I’m curious about, Karine, is how does this help the president to be going after members of his own party?” she asked again.
“It doesn’t at all,” she stated. “When Congress comes back in September Trump is going to be a very lonely person,” she added, before arguing that repeal/replace failed because Trumpcare was more unpopular than ObamaCare.
Schlapp pushed back against the narrative, again centering the discussion on the reason why Trump was going after the media, and disloyal Republicans.
“This is a fight my party has to have. If we won’t push aggressively for our agenda, our supporters start to wonder, why they put Republicans in at all,” he argued.
Woodruff then asked if that “justified” Trump’s “shouting match” with Mitch McConnell. Schlapp explained fights in the White House were normal (both he and Jean-Pierre had worked under different administrations) but this administration just had an unusual amount of leaks. Again he reiterated:
We need to have this fight. We need to learn as a party that--- and I give you guys great credit in the Obama Administration credit, got the agenda through, even when you couldn’t get it through Congress--you got it in. Republicans are so much more timid, we’re so afraid we’re going to rankle people.
“It’s why we turned to Trump. We’re tired of that because it doesn’t end up in results. We want to see results. Maybe this won’t work but maybe it’s our only way to get things done,” he surmised, as the interview ended.