I wouldn’t give as favorable a review to Trump’s speech as Gillespie did. Nevertheless, far from being “unhinged” or a “rant,” as the media kept calling it, the speech was an appealing mix of Morning in America optimism and mockery. The grumpy media reaction — call in the fact-checking monkeys! — misses the point of Trump’s appeal. Everyone knows the man will exaggerate and mislead to pump up his own legend. But everyone also knows that the press despises Trump so much that they have taken to heart New York Times columnist Jim Rutenberg’s famous injunction to drop all pretense of objectivity in pursuit of Trump.
The day before Trump was elected his approval rating on average was 37.5, according to the RealClearPolitics average. The last three polls have his numbers at 46, 47 and 43 percent approval, just a hair under Barack Obama’s ratings at the same point in 2011. This is happening amid what the media insist, as they are always insisting, is an extremely rough stretch for Trump — the shutdown, the defeat over financing the Wall, and Michael Cohen’s testimony before Congress. Meanwhile, the media keep convincing themselves that each new development in the Trump scandals is the one that will seal his doom. To the average voter, though, it’s been two years of diminishing returns. Scandal fatigue has set in. The various Javerts on Trump’s case need to deliver something juicier than anything they’ve come up with so far if they want to turn the public resolutely against Trump.