What Donald Trump's supporters really hate

Donald Trump to his rivals: Bring it on
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Donald Trump to his rivals: Bring it on 02:37

Story highlights

  • Hugh Hewitt: The media want to talk about Trump's Jersey City Muslim crowd statements
  • But Trump's supporters don't care what mainstream news outlets say and hate the media, Hewitt writes

Hugh Hewitt is a lawyer, law professor, author and host of a nationally syndicated radio show. He served in the Reagan administration in posts including assistant counsel in the White House and special assistant to two attorneys general. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.

(CNN)As a lifelong Cleveland Browns fan and season ticket holder since the club's return to Lake Erie's shore after its hijacking in the '90s, I of course opened Tuesday's radio show by talking to Donald Trump about the Browns' memorable "Monday Night Football" loss the evening before.

"So sad," The Donald replied. "Such a great history in the past."
"(A) great football area, and they'll be fine," Trump added. "They'll be fine."
    Hugh Hewitt
    Trump's soothing words to Browns faithful everywhere -- this new way of losing on a blocked-otherwise-game-winning field goal returned for a touchdown, instantly termed a "kick six," was unique even for long-suffering Cleveland sports fans -- were perhaps generated by a candidate happy to talk about anything other than his estimate of the number of disloyal Jersey City residents on 9/11.
    I did get around to asking Trump about that crowd estimate of his, and I suggested he was conflating memories of different events, but Trump stood his ground on his memory. He always stands his ground. Always.
    Which left much of the media still spluttering, and that collective media frustration of course encourages the Trump faithful as much as the promise of a high first-round draft pick rallies Browns fans.
    If the media are mad at Donald, a good percentage of the country is going to automatically stand with the man with the big buildings, personality, temper and, at least for the moment, lead in the GOP race for the presidential nomination.
    I spent most of my time with Trump on Tuesday talking about national security issues, about tax provisions and the advisability of a wealth tax, but later that night I was talking with Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon on CNN about -- the Jersey City numbers. The media want to try to put Trump in a headlock, but he refuses to tap out. It's frustrating to the MSM, energizing to the Trump legions.
    I pointed out to Cooper and his other guests, Amanda Carpenter and Peter Beinart, the views of a large slice of the American electorate: They hate, hate, hate the media. Did I mention hate? Recall Dustin Hoffman's Captain Hook re Peter Pan: "I hate, hate, hate Peter Pan." Well, substitute "MSM" for "Peter Pan" and "Joe down the street" for Captain Hook and you have an insight into Trump's political strength.
    I made similar points to the always affable but unpersuadable Don Lemon: Trump folks just don't care if his memory is off.
    The GOP primary polling could be way, way off too, by the way. The polls had incoming Republican Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin losing last month's vote by 4 or more percentage points. Bevin won by 9. So put a 13-point margin of error (either way) into the GOP primary polling, and layer in the notorious unpredictability of Iowa and New Hampshire voters. There is no sure thing in March, and no one who isn't formally out of the race is actually doomed.
    Donald Trump is, however, the certified and enduring front-runner -- yet try to find any figure in the media, on or off camera, who is a genuine supporter of the real estate mogul. You won't, and that's not just because some, like me, are pledged to stay out of picking favorites or rooting against someone in order to preserve fairness in the debate process.
    That gap -- millions cheering Trump and zero supporters in the credentialed MSM -- tells you much, much more about the collapse of media credibility in the country than it does about Donald Trump. The Manhattan-Beltway media elite is as much a part of the Trump story as Trump himself.