On the left, and among Donald Trump’s conservative critics, a new debate has emerged: is the media to blame for the businessman’s rise, or are Republican primary voters simply “idiots,” as New York Magazine’s Jon Chait argued recently, and unable to recognize a con-artist when they see one?
This is a false choice. There are plenty of factors that went into Trump becoming the presumptive GOP nominee, and the incessant media coverage of his every utterance and movement probably contributed to his sky-high negatives. But it’s unserious, not to mention smug, to assume that Trump has been playing all of his Republican supporters for dupes. You don’t need to worship Trump to vote for him. You don’t even have to like him, or think he’s always honest, because these are not the factors at the heart of Trump’s appeal.