The Federalist*, a right-wing blog that styles itself an intellectual, conservative voice, has entered new territory. Although critical, sometimes highly critical of Trump when they thought he could not win, they have turned an editorial 180 since his surprise victory last November. Now, as the Trump White House flounders amid charges of incompetence and scandal, Sr. Editor Sean Davis is wondering just what he could get away with.
"I had to test the waters," he said. "How many people were paying attention? Did they really understand the story? Or were they just glossing over headlines?" He tweeted this:
"I was testing to see if people realized that Trump team-members being picked up on legal surveillancewas very different from the Watergate-like scenario the president outlined involving GCHQ, Fox News, and so on. I got a lot of immediate push-back--but I think my twitter-feed is a lot more tuned in."
"What we've realized here is that a large set of our readers, including, astoundingly, the educated ones, are so invested in the Trump administration that what they really need, more than factual reporting or rigorous philosophical thought is an excuse that's just good enough that they can 'hang on to it.'"
"This is a very powerful strategy: As Trump becomes more and more self-destructive, the need for these excuses will rise sharply. Since Breitbart is, by nature, oppositional to power and the National Review Online actually has an ounce of self-respect and intellectual credibility, we think there's a solid play for us in telling our readers it's okay to be on the Trump Train no matter how bad it gets!"
When asked about The Weekly Standard in his right-wing editorial constellation, he pretended never to have heard of them.
"See, we've released an Alt-Right-Ain't-That-Bad piece that was gang-busters!" Davis enthused. "We did enough linguistic signalling that would allow a reader to say we didn't support them--but by putting the blame for America's rising Nazis on the shoulders of Feminist Culture, we're giving our readers a powerful-out to not have to take the Alt-Right seriously! This is a win-win: We can pick up some Alt-Right readers off of Breitbart, who started hugging them early, and at the same time placate more intellectual Trump-voters who are starting to have a difficult time squaring their vote with reality!"
He showed us the above template: "We're not sure--but we're thinking--could we get away with just saying 'Nazis were okay'? I mean--World War 2 was a long time ago. We think our readers still carry negative connotations--but if we could? We could beat Breitbart to the punch. They're like 80-90% of the way there already: We've gotta play catch-up."
Davis admitted that the challenge was tough. "If Trump wins the vote on Thursday he's going to cut a lot of his voter's medical care. Now he'll tell 'em that he'll make it up to them--but not with Ryan in the House and a multi-billion dollar wall he wants to build. That could be tricky. Fortunately, our research has shown that unless loved ones die, so long as Trump voters think that the minorities are being harder hit than they are by the new bill, they can stand to support it. That'll be our editorial direction there."
And if Trump's team is shown to be in actual collusion with the Russians?
"Oh, that's easy. Focus on the leaks. Stick on Obama. Say they're our friends. Our readership buys it and no one I know gives a fuck about Ukraine anyway.