He sticks to poll numbers here instead of riffing, Don-Lemon-like, about whether he personally believes Trump is a few fries short of a Happy Meal, but the takeaway is the same. CNN now considers the president’s mental health — or, if you want to be generous, the public’s perception of the president’s mental health — to be very much a newsworthy topic. Given these numbers, maybe it is!
This probably won’t put an end to the “CNN sucks” chants at Trump’s rallies, though. Mike Shields, a former chief of staff at the RNC, warned Lemon last night that telling Trump fans their man is literally crazy isn’t the most effective way to get through to them. Just the opposite. The nastier the media criticism gets, the more Trump benefits — in theory:
This is almost what he wants to see happen is that he criticizes the media and the media themselves are unhinged and start calling the president insane. I think that’s a huge mistake. I think it’s a mistake not to call the protesters ‘left wing protesters’ that are in Arizona right now fighting the police, I think that’s a mistake, as well.
I think if you could do those things, not call the president insane and just fact check him, and call the protesters out for who you are, you gain the credibility ground that you need to push back on the president when he gives a speech like this. But you’re almost doing his work for him when we start calling him insane. That’s the first comment I have to make about that.”
I say “in theory” because it’s hard not to look at a poll like the one below and think that even Republicans are starting to side-eye each other about Trump’s behavior. Tony Fabrizio, the pollster responsible, worked for Trump’s campaign last year and does his best to put a rosy spin on it. But let’s be real: A newly elected president should be doing way, way better than 50 percent among his own party’s voters in a hypothetical primary. What Fabrizio’s telling you here is that Trump can’t even command a majority of the GOP to say he deserves a second term in a fully open field:
— Tony Fabrizio (@TonyFabrizioGOP) August 23, 2017
The point isn’t that he’s at risk of losing a primary. He isn’t. The point is that about a quarter of the party prefers another candidate and another quarter of the party is undecided. Coincidentally, Morning Consult has a new poll out today showing Trump at 73 percent approval among Republicans. Around a quarter of the party won’t say that they approve of his performance in that survey either. That’s a lot of people on your own side to have wavering.
Here’s the Tapper clip, via the Free Beacon. Honestly, I don’t know how this criticism can continue to build this way over the course of four years. If we’re at this point already seven months in, with some CNN anchors appealing directly to Trump through the camera to chill out and others openly questioning whether he’s a nutjob, where will we be a year from now? Will Tapper be broadcasting in a “25th Amendment” shirt? Exit question: It’s probably a bad sign when North Korea is calling your leader “weird,” huh?