You see, mainstream media outlets hire conservative voices like me to provide balance. Trump made that task virtually Herculean (for the intellectually honest commentator, anyway). You can’t duck him and just write about, say, occupational licensure or ethanol subsidies for the rest of your life—because he dominates every freaking conversation. But you also can’t really defend him, since he keeps doing and saying morally indefensible things. And if all you do is criticize him, well, that puts you in the same category as every other journalist. TAKE THAT, LIBERAL MEDIA! So what do you do to justify the payday?
In an attempt to face this challenge, a few of my industry colleagues (erstwhile NeverTrump conservatives) have swapped tribes and essentially become Democrats. And switched from “heel” to “face.” The problem for me is twofold: I can’t be a Trump fanboy, any more than I could be a lefty. So, I’m alienating both sides with my neither-fish-nor-fowl essays.
My strategy is simple: When Trump does something right, I say so. But there are only so many Amy Coney Barretts and Middle East Peace deals to go around. And on the rare occasion that I did get to write one of these pieces, people Tweet and send my editors e-mails about how they’d love to support the Beast if it weren’t for that right-wing sonofabitch Matt Lewis. Mainstream media outlets tolerate those complaints about us Bible-toting conservatives because they want to provide some diversity of opinion. By dominating every conversation (and by being such a jerk), Trump made it very difficult to consistently perform this important function.