Rush Limbaugh: The media is smearing Trump by claiming that he's calling for riots

The funny thing is, notes Becket Adams, that not one of the reporters cited by Rush on his show today actually accused Trump of “calling for” riots. They accused him of “warning” of riots or of “predicting” them if he comes close to clinching the nomination and is denied in a floor fight — which is exactly what Trump did yesterday. Transcript:


RUSH: Now we have a montage of a whole bunch of Drive-By Media types saying that Trump is calling for riots.

DAVID MUIR: Donald Trump fresh off major victories overnight now warning of riots if the Republicans try to stop him at a contested convention.

DON DAHLER: Trump is warning of riots.

MEGYN KELLY: Trump says there will be riots.

ROBIN ROBERTS: Trump warning of riots if his party tries to stop him.

PETER ALEXANDER: Trump warned bad things would happen.

LARRY SABATO: Trump is saying that there will be riots in the streets.

MAJOR GARRETT: The GOP front-runner issued this menacing prediction.

WOLF BLITZER: Trump actually warned that there could be riots. Riots. He used the word twice.

JEFFERY TOOBIN: Here is a candidate whose rallies have been full of violence, and here he is predicting riots if he is not nominated. It’s completely outrageous.

RUSH: Okay. It’s totally out of control here. This is exactly how this kind of stuff happens in the Drive-Bys. By the way, this is no defense of Trump. This is standing up for the whole concept that words mean things. All Trump did was suggest that there would be riots. He didn’t call for them. In fact, he said he hoped there wouldn’t be.

Not a single person quoted there claimed that Trump condoned riots. All they did was report, accurately, what he told CNN might happen. If Rush has a problem with that, presumably it’s a problem with the entire idea of reporting news that damages Trump. And this does damage him. A candidate raising the possibility of violence if he doesn’t get his way, whether or not he formally endorses it, moves the Overton window on imaginable responses. Whatever Trump’s intention, some supporters will treat it as a wink-wink on how to react, especially given his habit of encouraging his fans to get rough with protesters at his rallies. (Some Trump fans, like Scottie Nell Hughes, already got the message.) All of this would be crystal clear to Rush if Obama suggested that there might be riots — not that there should be, merely that there might be — if Senate Republicans continue to bottle up his new Supreme Court nominee. As it is, if you want to watch how a more responsible politician deals with this subject, go watch the video of Rubio’s press gaggle in Washington today. He’s asked at 2:00 of the clip there whether he thinks there’ll be riots if Trump doesn’t win. He has every incentive to say yes; this is the same guy, after all, who’s spent the past week arguing that Trump is a malevolent force who’s introducing unthinkable possibilities into American politics. So what does Rubio say? Nah, there won’t be riots. I doubt he believes that, but that’s what a decent person with some influence says when he’s nudged to move the Overton window.


Here’s one more bit from later in today’s show that’s bothering me:

I would think, if I’m a consultant, if I’m a spokesman, if I’m a policy analyst, I’d look at this whole Trump phenomenon and go, “I’m not needed. People are gonna realize it. People are gonna realize I’m not needed.” Let’s say you’re a foreign policy advisor for candidate X. Trump doesn’t have any. He’s leading the pack. So it’s no wonder he’s gonna be criticized for everything he’s doing. People have turf to be protected here, folks. This is huge, what’s happening here, in all kinds of ways.

So explaining the anger, the envy, the resentment, the jealousy, the fear, I mean, it’s all there. People are afraid of Trump, people are envious, people are jealous, people are frightened, people are fearful, people are threatened. It depends on where you go, but all those facets are accurate, and it’s upsetting and unnerving, which is why so many of these people are hoping and praying that Trump implodes. They are hoping and praying that Trump loses in a landslide.

They are hoping that disaster comes to Trump, because if disaster comes to Trump in one way or another they will be validated as still necessary. They’ll be able to say, “Trump, he tried to do it without us. He tried to do it without a consultant. See what happens to you? He tried to do it without a good spokesman. See what happens you? He tried to do it without a foreign policy. See what happens to you? He tried to do it without the pollsters.” That’s what they want to be able to say down the road.


Lay aside the idea that foreign-policy advisors aren’t necessary because Trump is winning without them, which is a little like saying that you don’t need to study for tests if you win Homecoming king. (Also lay aside the fact that President Trump’s eventual foreign-policy team would doubtless be staffed with plenty of establishment Republican retreads.) Is it Rush’s opinion that good-faith opposition to Trump is impossible? Is everyone who objects to him working an angle and protecting their paycheck? I assume the answer is that he’s not talking about all Trump critics here, just the Beltway parasites and class of professional politicos who depend on business-as-usual for their livelihoods. If so, it’s ironic that he’d make that argument on a day when Mr. Establishment, Lindsey Graham, is organizing a fundraiser for Cruz while NRO is publishing a piece filled with quotes from Cruz-haters on Capitol Hill demanding that the party unite behind him ASAP in the name of stopping Trump. Cruz is undoubtedly a bigger threat to these people’s careers than Trump is; remember, lobbyists have been whispering for months that they’d prefer Trump to Cruz because he’ll play their game whereas Cruz, the ideologue, won’t. And yet, many of these same people prefer Cruz anyway. It could be — try to imagine it for one nanosecond — that even some establishment cronies are willing to put their country over their self-interest in extreme cases where they feel a line of irresponsibly authoritarian behavior has been crossed. If that’s hard to believe, maybe your personal line is a bit further down the slope than theirs is.


In lieu of an exit question, go read John Ziegler’s new column speculating on why conservative media stars have been so warm to Trump. It’s not just the consultant class that knows how to work an angle.

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David Strom 7:00 AM | May 18, 2024