Noteworthy not because this sentiment is widespread but because Rush, who usually works very, very hard to stay on the right side of his audience, is obviously uncomfortable.
I don’t know, though. Maybe it is widespread. If you want to attack Republicans with a “climate of hate” talking point, you’re better off polling their voters on what Gianforte did than trying to half-ass a path of direct causation from Trump’s rhetoric to Gianforte’s brain.
Gianforte voter to me in Bozeman just now, after declining an interview: "I think reporters have it coming."
— Garrett Haake (@GarrettHaake) May 25, 2017
MT GOP voter, upon learning we're from @CNN: "You're lucky someone doesn't pop one of you."
— Kyung Lah (@KyungLahCNN) May 25, 2017
Are those comments cherrypicked or do they represent a meaningful share of the Republican base? There’s no direct polling on whether it’s okay to throw a reporter down (I hope) but a survey a few weeks ago from UVA found 88 percent of Trump voters either strongly or somewhat agree that the press is the enemy of the American people. Getting rough is how enemies usually end up dealing with each other. What lessons the press takes away about Montana voters from tonight’s result will depend on whether Gianforte underperforms or overperforms his polls. If the Democrats pulls the upset, the narrative will be “Montanans reject thuggery!” If Gianforte wins by a surprise landslide, “Republicans embrace thuggery!”
Ben Shapiro aptly divides the Gianforte apologists into three categories: The media-haters; the hyper-partisans; and the macho men, who think a soft society could stand some harder deterrents. (“These same people will cry ‘snowflake’ at Antifa for attempting to shut down debate with violence.”) Each of those tendencies is understandable in moderation; as they accelerate and become self-reinforcing you get the fascist attitude you’re about to hear, in which an American citizen suggests that one way to get the media to report “better” is to terrorize them until they do. Is Trump the cause of the acceleration, as a million hot takes tomorrow will insist if Gianforte wins tonight, or is he the symptom? The more people crave boorishness as an antidote to “political correctness,” however they define that, the more boorishness they may be willing to tolerate as part of the effort.
Update: Maybe Rush was less uncomfortable than I gave him credit for.