Trump cracks Cruz's lock on conservative media

Indeed, some of the most powerful leaders in the conservative media world have gone as far as to take Trump’s side over Cruz’s as the closing weeks of the caucus campaign pitted these men against one another. While Breitbart, a blog financed in large part by Cruz’s biggest donor, had served as something of a home for both Trump and Cruz, the site has begun to validate Trump’s questioning of Cruz’s U.S. citizenship, for instance. And Rush Limbaugh, who had consistently defended Cruz, told his listeners he was “sitting out” the skirmish between the two leading GOP contenders…

But while Levin, Laura Ingraham and Glenn Beck, among others, all came to Cruz’s defense during the height of the “birther” attacks, the Cruz campaign now sees some of the leading figures in talk radio helping build a bulwark against Trump. Trump’s brand of politics has increasingly become aligned with the conservative radio talkers and bloggers, who have expanded their audiences by provoking grassroots activists, amplifying hardline positions and pushing Republicans further and further to the right.

And whatever his other transgressions with conservative orthodoxy, Trump has positioned himself farther to the right than any of his rivals on immigration, the issue that most riles up conservative listeners and audiences. Trump has not only driven Cruz rightward on the issue, he’s now running a new TV ad in Iowa featuring Cruz’s stammering Fox News interview that aims to hold Cruz to account for his past openness to legal status for undocumented immigrants.

Suddenly, some of Cruz’s consistent supporters in the right-wing media are hedging their bets. Limbaugh, for example, has carefully straddled the divide; while giving his full-throated support to Cruz, Limbaugh has praised Trump’s tactics noting that to his broad base of support he represents “opportunity” “newness” and the “breaking out of whatever it is that’s got us shackled.” Laura Ingraham, a staunch Cruz defender, also initially validated Trump’s questioning of his U.S. citizenship before changing her mind and stating that the question has been resolved. But just days ago, Ingraham pointed out to her listeners Cruz’s flip flops on free trade and immigration reform.