Aggressive, constant hostility to the media isn’t just a part of the Trump GOP’s ideology; it’s now the central pillar. The press has to lose for Trump to win. The press has to fail for Trump to triumph. He often bests them in single combat, but like the nerdy kid who has had enough and finally knocks the bully on his ass, mainstream reporters and commentators wrecked Trump’s week. They don’t always get a win like this, but watching the powerful, evocative, stories coming out of the border, and as the scope of the Trump Archipelago became clear, the news cycle was entirely out of Trump’s control. As hard as the Trump-right media machine tried, “It’s Obama’s fault” or “Why didn’t you complain about family separations then, shill?” were failed rhetorical gambits overcome the harsh shock of the now. Retrospective whataboutism is always a weak hand.
The only thing worse than losing on his central political issue to the hated news media was losing to brown-skinned children from Central America, but lose he did. Trump’s crapulous, aggressively dumb team of political arsonists thought they had a surefire winner for the core of the Trump demo. What could go wrong with a heartless, callous policy of visible and aggressive separation of migrant children from their parents? They capered and giggled, secure in the knowledge that Fox and talk radio, and the alt-right and alt-light media would cheer Trump’s aggressive steps against the cocoa-colored horde of MS-13 toddlers.