The media organs that have so steadfastly supported Donald Trump, from the golden escalator to the White House, are turning.
Hard-right commentators like Laura Ingraham are baffled, angry. And Rep. Steve King, the outspoken nativist Republican from Iowa has all but declared Trump’s presidency a lost cause.
Fueling their fury is a pending White House deal with Democrats that would, at the least, protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program recipients in exchange for a border security boost – but no wall, at least not yet.
“If (the AP story about the agreement) is correct,” King tweeted on Wednesday night, “Trump base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair. No promise is credible.”
The hyperventilating continued apace on Thursday morning, with pro-Trump conservative media roasting the President on all fronts.
Surely then, this is the end of the line for Trump and his beloved base? Surely not.
The reality is that Trump’s core supporters are not going away, much less defecting to another party or politician. (And why would they? Trump’s brand explicitly rejects career politicians of all stripes and scorns a certain brand of partisan politics.)
From the earliest days of his campaign, Trump backers’ fierce loyalty has never been in serious doubt. It is a simple and remarkably durable fact of our current politics, and yet, so many people seem unable to countenance it.
Consider here some striking analysis from CNN’s Ryan Struyk: as of last month, “6 in 10 people who approve of Trump say they’ll never, ever, ever stop approving.” According to the Monmouth University poll he cited, 61% of Trump supporters said there was nothing the President could do to shed their allegiance.
The numbers went up with age – 68% for the 55+ crowd. Two-thirds of supporters with a high school degree or less, along with those making under $50,000 annually, said the same.
On Thursday morning, the MAGA crowd was biting back at suggestions that Trump’s would-be deal with Democratic congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, the second in as many weeks, was fraying their faith.
The most upvoted (as in, actively liked by fellow readers) comment on a critical Breitbart story titled, “Donald Trump: The Wall Is Actually Just Renovation of Old Fences,” lashed out at the site for posting, yup, “Fake News.”
“No Where In That Tweet Does Trump Say New Sections Won’t Be Built!” the commenter continues. “Pelosi & Schumer Have Already Amitted That No Agreement On DACA! WTF Are These BS Stories From Breitbart?”
The reality here lies somewhere in between Breitbart’s agitprop and the harsh reviews below the line. But the details are a secondary concern. When it comes to choosing between even the most Trump-friendly outlets and Trump himself, there’s really no choice at all. Breitbart feeds off Trump, not the other way around.
On the Trump subreddit, r/The_Donald, there was little evidence on Thursday afternoon of a break with Trump. None of the top posts from the last 24 hours were critical of the President. The usual fare drowned out any detailed mention of the potential DACA deal.
The posts that did touch on it, at least tangentially, framed it as a win for Trump, further evidence of his 4-D chess negotiating skills or just another opportunity to burn “Crooked Hillary” or the media.
“WaaahPost thinks we’re fuming at Trump,” one user wrote. “Let’s prove them otherwise! Anyone who likes this post is happy as can be!” Another explained the moment this way: “President Trump knows what he’s doing. He’s getting the republican base angry at Ryan/McConnell for failing to work with him. Leverage. Don’t fall into the ‘Trump compromised’ trap again like after he bombed Syria.”
For any wavering loyalists, the message was clear: “Trust in trump … He will let us know directly if we should be worried. MAGA!”
CNN’s Oliver Darcy contributed to this report.