Right-wing media condemnation reached a fever pitch on August 9 after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) commented that President Donald Trump had “excessive expectations” for health care reform, which many Trump loyalists in the conservative mediasphere interpreted as an attack on the president. In response, Trump sycophants along with online bots and trolls used their platforms to besmirch McConnell’s character, call for him to retire, and popularize the hashtag #DitchMitch on Twitter.
McConnell called out Trump for “excessive expectations” in health care reform
McConnell: Trump “had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process” during GOP attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. While speaking to a Rotary Group in Kentucky on August 8, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stated that President Donald Trump “had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process” with regards to health care. According to CNN, McConnell also said, “Part of the reason I think people think we're under-performing is because of too many artificial deadlines unrelated to the reality of the legislature which may have not been understood.” From an August 8 CNN report:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered some of his toughest criticism yet for President Donald Trump in a speech Monday to a Rotary Group in northern Kentucky.
McConnell, who has been relatively measured in his previous critiques of the White House, argued the President's approach to the legislative process is leading to an inaccurate impression of how Congress works.
“Our new president, of course, has not been in this line of work before,” said McConnell according to CNN affiliate WCPO which covered the event. “I think he had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process.”
McConnell made the case that the Congress is working as it should and that voters should allow the process to play itself out before passing judgment.
“Part of the reason I think people think we're under-performing is because of too many artificial deadlines unrelated to the reality of the legislature which may have not been understood.” [CNN.com, 8/8/17]
Right-wing media figures and bots attack McConnell, call for him to step down
Fox News host Sean Hannity: “Sen. McConnell, with all due respect, you need to retire. We need somebody with a sense of urgency and vision.” During the August 9 edition of The Sean Hannity Show, host Sean Hannity criticized McConnell's inability to get health care reform legislation passed in the Senate, adding “you just sound like you lived in the swamp your entire life, and it sounds pathetic.” Hannity went on to state, “Senator McConnell, with all due respect, you need to retire”:
[Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 8/9/17]
Hannity also lashed out at McConnell on Twitter:
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) August 9, 2017
Right-wing radio host Wayne Dupree:
— Wayne Dupree (@WayneDupreeShow) August 9, 2017
I join Hannity, Levin, Ingraham & Coulter in backing @RepMoBrooks for Session's Senate seat.
Brooks has voted with @POTUS 95%
— Wayne Dupree (@WayneDupreeShow) August 9, 2017
Conservative commentator Mark Steyn on Fox Business Network:
— FOX Business (@FoxBusiness) August 9, 2017
Fox Business host Lou Dobbs:
— Lou Dobbs (@LouDobbs) August 9, 2017
Fox News reporter Geraldo Rivera:
If @seanhannity says @MajorityLeaderMcConnell is a do nothing in heap of trouble, take it to the bank, he'll be hanging w Reince before long
— Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) August 9, 2017
Far-right blogger Stefan Molyneux:
— Stefan Molyneux (@StefanMolyneux) August 9, 2017
Allen West: “Senator Mitch McConnell does not deserve to be the majority leader.” Former Fox News contributor and right-wing blogger Allen West criticized McConnell in a blog post on his website saying “he needs to be removed.” From the August 9 blog post:
It’s time we, the people — and this isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue — finally rid ourselves of this, as Roman statesman Cicero stated circa 55 BC, “The arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled.” We the people must come together and do as Cicero recommended.
We were under a delusion that the Republican Party would actually do what’s right…we know the progressive socialists of the Democrat Party will not. We’re left with no other recourse: remove those who lie, deceive, and betray the will of the people. And if you recall, I recently wrote a piece about the emergence of a third political movement.
Senator Mitch McConnell does not deserve to be the majority leader. The arrogance of his officialdom must be controlled; he needs to be removed. His statement is indicative of exactly what is hurting our country. [AllenBWest.com, 8/9/17]
Fox’s Andrew Napolitano: “Is Republican leadership up to the job? Should people be reconsidering … Mitch McConnell as majority leader?” Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano joined other Fox hosts in attacking McConnell for failing to repeal and replace Obamacare, asking, “Should people be reconsidering ... Mitch McConnell as [Senate] majority leader?” Co-host Abby Huntsman and contributor Katie Pavlich also criticized the Republican Senate and House leaders for “pinning” the failure “on President Trump.” From the August 9 edition of Fox News’ Outnumbered:
ABBY HUNTSMAN (CO-HOST): What is your reaction to Mitch Mcconnell there because the American people -- I've been talking to them -- they're irate with what's going on there.
KATIE PAVLICH: Oh, they’re so mad.
HUNTSMAN: So that strategy of pinning it on President Trump. Is that really going to work for him?
PAVLICH: Well, look, I think that the system was set up by the Founding Fathers to be a slow legislative process. Seven years is slow enough, and it's not the president, as you said, who set up this deadline of passing Obamacare. It was Republicans who promised over and over again -- we've been talking about this for so long -- that they would get it done. They had the opportunity multiple times, and they totally choked and blew it. And if that's the excuse they're going to give during this August recess when they're back at home, it's going to be a rough go for them. And for the party that claims to be all about personal responsibility, they're sure blaming everything else for the failure that they had.
ANDREW NAPOLITANO: Katie is 100 percent on the mark. Here's the next question. Is Republican leadership up to the job? Should people be reconsidering -- these guys are going to kill me for saying this -- Mitch McConnell as [Senate] majority leader and Paul Ryan as speaker [of the House]? [Fox News, Outnumbered, 8/9/17]
Alliance for Securing Democracy found that online bots and trolls pushed the hashtag #DitchMitch on August 9. According to the Alliance for Securing Democracy, an organization that monitors activity on Twitter by bots and trolls linked to Russian influence campaigns, “ditchmitch” was a trending hashtag among “Twitter accounts linked to Russian influence operations”:
[Alliance for Alliance for Securing Democracy, accessed 8/9/17]