The Conservative Media War Over Donald Trump

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign launch speech viciously denigrated Mexican immigrants and strongly split conservative media figures on his candidacy. While some argue Trump is a “rodeo clown,” others think he is “saying things that need to be said.”  Several conservatives disagree with Trump's rhetoric but claim he's raising important issues.

Trump Launches Presidential Campaign, Describes Mexican Immigrants As “Rapists”

Some Conservatives Praise “Magnificent” Trump For “Raising A Valid Issue”

Other Conservative Media Disagree With Trump Rhetoric, But Believe He Is Making Valid Points

While Other Right-Wing Media Figures Attack “Rodeo Clown” Trump, Saying He Is Dangerous For The GOP

RNC Chair Asks Trump To “Tone It Down”

Trumps Lashes Out At “Overrated” Critics, Praises Fox News For “Being Honest”

Trump Launches Presidential Campaign, Describes Mexican Immigrants As “Rapists”

Trump On Mexican Immigrants: “They Are Bringing Drugs. They Are Bringing Crime. They're Rapists ... Some, I Assume, Are Good People.” In the speech launching his presidential campaign, real estate mogul and former reality TV host Donald Trump caused controversy with his comments about Mexican immigrants:

While announcing his candidacy to be America's next president last month, Mr. Trump delivered remarks that ended up echoing across Mexico.

“They are bringing drugs. They are bringing crime. They're rapists,” Mr. Trump said about Mexican immigrants, adding, “some, I assume, are good people.” [New York Times, 7/2/15]

Some Conservatives Praise “Magnificent” Trump For “Raising A Valid Issue”

Ann Coulter: Trump “Is Magnificent.” Appearing on SiriusXM's The Mike Church Show, conservative columnist and author Ann Coulter praised Trump's immigration remarks:

COULTER: But I really think he is magnificent. I'm almost stunned at how good he's being especially considering the world he lives in. He's a fancy Manhattanite -- and I'm sure -- who vacations in the Hamptons. All of his friends disagree with him. You very rarely see this in any place -- in any group of people--and he really is just standing up for the American working class like I've never seen. The American working class really likes him, and always has, and I think his next move should be that he should point out that he's the only one who cares about black jobs. I mean have you seen the black unemployment rate? How dare liberals accuse him of racism? They don't even have an argument. He's the one trying to defend American jobs and particularly with the black youth unemployment rate. How about letting Americans take those jobs instead of the foreign born poor? [SiriusXM, The Mike Church Show, 7/6/15, transcript via Breitbart.com]

Pat Buchanan: Trump Is “Raising A Valid Issue,” And Is A “Man Of Action.” Syndicated conservative columnist Pat Buchanan wrote that Trump's statement about Mexican immigrants raised “a valid issue:”

Politically incorrect? You betcha.

Yet, is Trump not raising a valid issue? Is there not truth in what he said? Is not illegal immigration, and criminals crossing our Southern border, an issue of national import, indeed, of national security?

Women and girls crossing Mexico on trains are raped by gangs. The “coyotes” leading people illegally across the U.S. border include robbers, rapists and killers, who often leave these people to die in the desert. [WND, 7/6/15]

Ted Nugent: “Trump Should Be Given The Medal Of Freedom.”  In a column for WND, National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent targeted Trump's critics, asking,  “What sort of denial gagged liar denies that our country is being invaded by drugrunners, murderers and rapists?” :

Instead of being condemned and lampooned by the likes of Ari Fleischer and his ilk, Donald Trump should be given the Medal of Freedom for speaking his mind in such a bold, honest and straight-forward manner.

If you want to watch a real political train wreck, witness a real mess in progress, you need look no further than the professional politicians who have borrowed and spent this country into oblivion. Trump that if you dare.

Carry on, Mr. Trump. Unless you are taking flak, you're not over the target.

And for the record, I dare anybody to show me one word from Trump that isn't accurate. What sort of denial gagged liar denies that our country is being invaded by drugrunners, murderers and rapists? What sort of denial gagged liar could possibly believe Trump meant legal immigrants?

GOP, your very existence is on the line here. Show some honesty or you're done. [WND, 7/9/15]

Monica Crowley: Trump “Is Saying Things That Need To Be Said,” Other GOP Candidates Should Follow Him. Fox News contributor Monica Crowley said that while Trump may be “brash,” he is “saying things that need to be said” :

CROWLEY: Voters want a straight talker. And is he brash? Is he outspoken? Absolutely. But he's also giving voice to what a lot of voters are believing about the state of the country right now. And he's fearlessly doing it. I mean the question about whether or not he's good for the Republican Party I think is immaterial.

Because he's performing two great services for the rest of the candidates if they're smart enough to follow his lead: Number one, he is not caving in to the leftist intimidation tactics, right? They're going after Univision, they're going after Macy's, they're going after NBC and they have all caved, and Donald Trump says “no, statistics back me up on the significant criminal element coming over the border, I can back up everything that I'm saying and I'm not apologizing.” That is a big lesson for conservatives and Republicans going forward.

And number two, by being this brash and outspoken, could he say things in a more graceful way? Maybe. But guess what? He's doing a lot of political blocking for the other candidates. Because he is saying things that need to be said, and if the other candidates are smart, they might wrap it up in more diplomatic language, but he is actually going out there, kind of as the lead rabbit running around on the field. [Fox News, America's Newsroom7/2/15]

Rush Limbaugh Praised Trump For Asking “Who's Doing The Raping?” During a CNN interview about his launch speech, Trump asked host Don Lemon, “Who's doing the raping?” On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh later praised Trump for the question:

LIMBAUGH: So liberals believe all this cockamamie crap. They believe all these rapes are taking place, but you're not supposed to talk about who's doing the raping. “Who's doing the raping, Don?” We're talking about women, immigrants coming to the country being raped. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 7/2/15]

Sean Hannity Defended Trump: Why Would Immigrants Leave Their Country “If They're So Successful?” On his radio show, Fox's Sean Hannity defended Trump after NBC cut ties with him due to his remarks:

HANNITY: We've got a problem in this country. If he [Trump] can make that statement and CNN refers to it as “racially-tinged,” because [inaudible...] could play this on TV. Floor to ceiling drugs confiscated by people crossing our southern border. You want to talk about crime? Well what do you think -- who's coming from Latin America and Mexico? Are they rich, successful Mexicans, Nicaraguans, El Salvador residents? No! Why would they leave if they're so successful? [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 6/29/15]

Todd Starnes: “Trump Has Nothing To Apologize For. He Was Telling The Truth.” Starnes, a Fox News Radio host, added that “people crossing the border from one country into another was called an invasion. They used to fight wars over stuff like that. But now -- they just play politics.” [Fox News Radio, 6/30/15]

Powerline: “Donald Trump Was Right.” In a blog post headlined “Donald Trump Was Right,” Powerline blogger John Hinderaker wrote:

Immigration will be the biggest issue in the 2016 presidential race. Donald Trump won't be the Republican candidate, but at least he understands why Americans are so angry at their government. And the Left's effort to shut Trump up, aided by big business, should be a teachable moment. [Powerline, 7/7/15]

Other Conservative Media Disagree With Trump Rhetoric, But Believe He Is Making Valid Points

Bill O'Reilly: “Trump Is Correct In Saying That Only A Massive Wall Will Stop The Chaos.”  Fox News' Bill O'Reilly said Trump spoke “too generally” but was correct in pointing out a problem:

O'REILLY: The primary mistake Donald Trump made in his campaign kickoff speech was speaking too generally about the border problem.

[...]

But it's not ordinary Mexicans doing the raping. It's the gangsters, and Trump should have made that clear.

The truth is there is little supervision on the Mexican side of the border. Cities like Juarez and Nuevo Laredo are literally run by the drug cartels.

Border security in Mexico is non-existent and has been for decades.

That situation will not improve.

So Trump is correct in saying that only a massive wall will stop the chaos. And even then, drugs and people will get through, although not to the extent they do now. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor7/6/15]

Rich Lowry: “Trump Has A Point.”  National Review editor Rich Lowry wrote:

Trump's instantly notorious Mexico comments did more to insult than to illuminate, yet a kernel in them hit on an important truth that typical politicians either don't know or simply fear to speak. “When Mexico sends its people,” Trump said, “they're not sending their best.” [National Review7/3/15]

Ben Shapiro: Without Trump's Comments “The Media Would Still Be Ignoring The Problem Of Illegal Immigrant Criminality.”  Breitbart editor-at-large Ben Shapiro wrote:

Naturally, the Republican elites are appalled at Trump's commentary and manner. Not without reason, they believe Trump's comments were offensive in tone and tenor. But instead of separating the message from the messenger, they have bought wholesale into the media narrative: Trump is a racist, and any discussion of illegal immigrant criminality betrays a deeper xenophobia. Can't we all just get back to avoiding discussions of same-sex marriage and illegal immigration in favor of stimulating conversations about top marginal tax rates?

The fact is this, however: without Trump's typically blustering comments, the media would still be ignoring the problem of illegal immigrant criminality. Nobody would have heard of 32-year-old Kate Steinle, murdered over the weekend in San Francisco by a five-times-deported illegal immigrant seeking sanctuary in the city; nobody would have heard of the six-times-deported illegal immigrant charged in a felony hit-and-run of an Arizona mom and her two young kids; nobody would have heard of the four-times-deported illegal immigrant in Texas who confessed to hammering his wife to death. [Breitbart.com, 7/7/15]

Rudy Giuliani: “I Would Have Said It Differently,” But Trump “Hit On The Right Point.”  In an interview with MSNBC, former New York City Mayor and frequent media commentator Rudy Giuliani backed the “point” of Trump's remarks:

Giuliani called Trump a “good friend of mine” at the Hank's Yanks Golf Classic at Trump Golf Links in the Bronx. The ex-mayor argued that while Trump could have phrased his thoughts better, he's still tackling the important issue of border security.

“We've failed at it for quite some time and we need to have a plan so that we can stop people from coming into this country without identifying themselves. Even if most of them are good people, if a few of them can set off bombs, if a few of them can kill people like one did over the weekend, if a few of them can rape people then what are we doing?” He later added, “So think [Trump] hit on the right point. I would have said it differently. And I certainly think that it doesn't reflect on Donald Trump as a man who is a very charitable and a good man. I'm sure if he really had a chance to say it he'd reverse it.” [MSNBC.com, 7/6/15]

Jennifer Kerns: “Trump Is Certainly Onto Something.”  Writing at Glenn Beck's news site, The Blaze, contributor Jennifer Kerns wrote:

Although “the Donald” could have made his point in a gentler manner and perhaps not risked his merchandise being dropped by the hypocritical Macy's department store nor risked his “Celebrity Apprentice” being dropped by NBC, Trump is certainly onto something.

According to the United Nations -- which is no conservative think tank -- 97 percent of the illegal immigrants who enter this country clandestinely do so via the Southern border between the U.S. and Mexico. [The Blaze, 7/6/15]

While Other Right-Wing Media Figures Attack “Rodeo Clown” Trump, Saying He Is Dangerous For The GOP

Karl Rove Compared Trump To Failed Republican Senate Candidate Todd Akin, Said He Is “A Real Danger” For GOP. Fox contributor Karl Rove compared Trump's comments to the controversy over Senate candidate Todd Akin's infamous comments about “legitimate rape” and worried “the media and Democrats will force Republicans to answer for what Donald Trump says” :

ROVE: The media and Democrats will force Republicans to answer for what Donald Trump says. We saw this happen before. Remember when Todd Akin said the ugly things he said about abortion in 2012? They asked every Republican, starting with Mitt Romney as to whether or not they agreed -- and we were doing focus groups three days after that Todd Akin interview in 2012 in Denver, Colorado -- and you could not convince independent women who were undecided about the presidential race that Mitt Romney had a different view than -- of abortion than did Todd Akin. So, there is a real danger here. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 7/6/15]

Charles Krauthammer: Trump Is A “Rodeo Clown.” Appearing on the July 6 edition of Fox News' Special Report, syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer called Trump a “rodeo clown” and said “the word offensive is too weak” to describe Trump's comments on immigrants:

BRET BAIER: Understanding your positions of where he is for the party, what he is as a candidate, he is tapping in to something, is he not? That is visceral and populist, and angry at politicians - Republicans included?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well he's tapping in, but he's essentially -- he's done it in a way that is -- the word offensive is too weak. It's an insult. An entire immigrant group, and he did not make a distinction between legal and illegal immigrants when he said that an entire immigrant group are rapists. That's the quote.

BAIER: So you think he's a xenophobe?

KRAUTHAMMER: That's his entire campaign. All our problems are from Mexico, from China, from Saudi Arabia and Japan and he will make them pay. But that elevates him to a guy actually with ideas. These are eruptions, barstool eruptions. And the pity is this: this is the strongest field of Republican candidates in 35 years. You could pick a dozen of them at random and have the strongest cabinet America's had in our lifetime, and instead all our time is spent discussing this rodeo clown. [Fox News, Special Report, 7/6/15]

George Will: Trump Only Knows How To Say “Hideously Inflammatory” Things. Syndicated columnist George Will said Trump only knows how to say “hideously inflammatory” things and is a “one-man Todd Akin.”

WILL: Ask yourself this thought experiment: If Donald Trump were a Democratic mole, placed in the Republican Party to disrupt things, how would his behavior be different? I don't think it would be. There's all this loose talk, but it's something to it about the Republican brand. Picture him on stage in Cleveland. He says something hideously inflammatory, which is all he knows how to say, and then what do the other nine people on stage do? Do they either become complicit in what he said by their silence or do they all seriatim have to attack him? The debate gets hijacked, the process gets hijacked, and at the end of the day he is a one-man Todd Akin, I mean he's Todd Akin with 10 different facets. That's the gentleman who in the 2014 election said some unfortunate things about rape, and every Republican was asked about them from then on. [Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 7/5/15]

Linda Chavez: “Conservatives, Quit Defending Trump.” Writing in National Review, conservative columnist and Fox News contributor Linda Chavez called on conservatives to stop defending Trump:

Donald Trump's outrageous comments about Mexican immigrants in his announcement speech two weeks ago should have been an occasion for conservatives to say that we have no room for bigots in our midst. Instead, a host of conservatives, from Ted Cruz to National Review's own Rich Lowry, have defended his message, if not the crude way he expressed it. [National Review, 7/6/15]

Eliana Johnson: Trump's Comments Are A “Disaster” For The GOP. During an appearance on Fox & Friends, National Review editor Eliana Johnson condemned Trump's remarks:

BRIAN KILMEADE: As Americans, we say we're not going to be able to deport 11 to 14 million people. However, almost everybody - I think a lot of Democrats too -- say, should we stop the leaking at the border first?

JOHNSON: No Republicans disagree about this, but posing the question the way Trump did, you know -- in no way is this positive for the party. And you see, I think Eric's response that Democrats are celebrating illustrates that perfectly. It's a disaster. [Fox & Friends, Fox News, 7/6/15]

Jonah Goldberg: Trump Is “Damaging A Party He Expresses Contempt For Daily.” At National Review, Fox News contributor Jonah Goldberg suggested that Trump could prevent Republicans from winning the White House in 2016:

In his announcement speech -- the brevity and discipline of which were impressive only by the standards of Fidel Castro or Joe Biden -- Trump shouted his certainty that Mexico is sending rapists and other criminals to America, but he could only “assume” (sotto voce) that “some” of those Mexicans are good people. Many of my colleagues on the right have taken pains to logic-chop Trump's remarks. And it is true that some number of rapists and drug dealers are illegally crossing the border. Others have defended Trump by noting that what people like about this Lonesome Rhodes in a $10,000 suit is his fearlessness, bluntly tackling issues that other politicians fear to touch. That is a fine point in an indictment of the professional political class, but it is not a defense of Trump.

His goal was to wave the rhetorical bloody shirt. It worked only too well, damaging a party he expresses contempt for daily.

[...]

Meanwhile, too many of Trump's GOP primary competitors, afraid of angering his fans, stand mute or mumbling. Republicans are fielding the best candidates in a generation, but Trump is poised to make them chumps by association. He has no chance of becoming president, but he has the huge potential to deny his alleged party a White House victory in 2016. And when that happens, he will of course stay a celebrity, but he will have traded his fame for infamy, even among those now cheering him on. [National Review, 7/8/15]

Chris Stirewalt: Trump Using “Overheated Rhetoric” On Immigration, “Marginalizing The Issue.” Fox News digital politics editor Chris Stirewalt accused Trump of using “overheated rhetoric” and “marginalizing [immigration] as an issue.”

STIREWALT: Ted Cruz said on Sunday that he applauded Donald Trump for bringing attention to this issue. Trump has brought attention to this issue, but so has Cruz, so has Carly Fiorina, so -- Scott Walker, many in the Republican field have talked about the problems with not just illegal immigration in the abstract, but who's coming into the United States, and border security and all that stuff. What Trump has done, yes, is highlight the issue, but he's made himself the issue with the overheated rhetoric, being over the top all of the time, and in fact he's marginalizing it as an issue because others now will be afraid to go into this space -- more afraid to go into this space, because they won't want to be associated with his comments. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 7/7/15]

Chris Wallace: It's Not Right For Trump To “Demonize” Mexican Immigrants. During an appearance on KFTK's Allman in the Morning, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace criticized Trump's rhetoric:

WALLACE: I vastly prefer what he's [Jeb Bush] saying, which is, which I think is the truth, which is that people come to this country -- and I'm not saying that they should. I mean, a great country has to be able to defend its borders, but people don't come to the United States because they're criminals. I think most people come to the United States because they think they'll be able to provide for their families and have better lives, and to demonize a group of people is, I don't think it's right. [KFTK, Allman in the Morning, 6/25/15]

RNC Chair Reportedly Asked Trump To “Tone It Down”

RNC Chair Reince Priebus Reportedly Asked Trump To “Tone It Down” On Immigration. According to NBC News, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus requested that Trump “tone it down” on immigration amid pressure from “influential Republicans” concerned he was hurting the party:

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called presidential candidate Donald Trump and asked him to pull back his rhetoric on immigration, a source familiar with the conversation told NBC News on Wednesday.

The source, who asked not to be identified, said Priebus made the request to “tone it down” during an almost hour-long conversation covering a wide range of issues when he returned an earlier call from Trump.

The Washington Post, citing Republican donors and consultants who'd been briefed on the conversation, first reported earlier Wednesday that Priebus decided to “reach out” to Trump under pressure from influential Republicans concerned that the real estate mogul-turned-TV-star-turned-politician was embarrassing the party with his recent comments on immigration. [NBC News, 7/9/15]

Trump Denies Priebus Was Critical. Trump wrote on Twitter:

Trumps Lashes Out At “Overrated” Critics, Praises Fox News For “Being Honest”

Trump On Conservative Critics: “These Are Totally Overrated People.”  Responding to conservative criticism during an interview on MSNBC, Trump touted his wealth and criticized Charles Krauthammer for being a “totally overrated guy” :

NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT KATY TUR: I want to talk about what some of the Republicans have been saying about you just this week. You've been very divisive for the party. Charles Krauthammer has called you a “rodeo clown.”

TRUMP: Well, Charles Krauthammer is a totally overrated person who really dislikes me personally. I never met him. But I mean, he's a totally overrated guy, doesn't know what he's doing. He was totally in favor of the war in Iraq. He wanted to go into Iraq and he wanted to, you know, stay there forever. So, you know, these are overrated people. I see who it is. You can mention name after name -- by the way, you gonna mention the ones that do like Trump? You don't do that, do you?

TUR: Goldberg has compared you to a failed man who mistook flattery for insight. George Will --

TRUMP: I'm a failed man? I'm worth a fortune. I built -- you know, it's interesting. I went to best school, got the best -- great marks, everything else. I went out, I made a fortune. A big fortune. A tremendous fortune. I'll be announcing that in about a week because I have to file my papers -- bigger than people even understand. I have a book called The Art of the Deal. I do The Apprentice. The Art of the Deal was like the number one business book of all time, or just about, I think it was. And I do The Apprentice and NBC is angry at me because they renewed The Apprentice and I wouldn't do it. And that's one of the reasons that NBC is so angry at me. And then I get called by a guy that can't buy a pair of pants, I get called names? Give me a break. [MSNBC, 7/8/15, via Mediaite]

Trump Thankful For Support From Some Fox Hosts: “At Least Fox Is Being Honest.”  During the interview with Tur, Trump pointed to support from Fox News as evidence that he is “helping the party greatly” :

KATY TUR: Republicans say that you're hurting the party. Do you think you're hurting the party? If you divide them so severely will you be able to get the nomination and then become president?

TRUMP: Well on Fox they say that I did a great service because I'm the one that brought up the whole discussion on immigration. And I think I'm helping the party greatly.

[...]

TUR: Illegal immigrants commit less crime other than coming through illegally.

TRUMP: I'm talking about illegal immigrants, are causing tremendous crime, tremendous crime, and nobody wants to talk about it, and that's why Fox, at least Fox, and you won't leave this perhaps, at least Fox is being honest because they're now talking about it bigly. And if I didn't bring up this subject a number of weeks ago, we wouldn't even be talking about illegal immigration right now. [All In with Chris Hayes, MSNBC, 7/8/15]