Despite the crowded field of Republican presidential candidates, conservative talk radio seem unified on their favorite: Donald Trump.
Thanks to talk radio, Buzzfeed News' Rosie Gray noted in her August 27 article "The Real Media Machine Behind Trump: Conservative Talk Radio," "you can almost listen to pro-Trump News all day." Gray pointed how "some of the biggest names in conservative talk radio -- Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, and Savage -- have praised Trump and his bashing of the politically correct left and Republican establishment":
Unlike cable news, conservative talk radio speaks directly to the disaffected conservative base fueling Trump's rise. Rush Limbaugh's is still the most-listened-to talk radio program in the country, pulling in 13 and a quarter million weekly listeners, according to estimates in Talkers magazine, an industry publication (Limbaugh himself has estimated it in the past at 20 million). Talkers puts Sean Hannity in second, with 12.5 million. Mark Levin ties with Glenn Beck (a Trump critic) for fourth, with 7 million. Savage has more than 5 million, according to Talkers' estimates.
And if you're someone who listens to a lot of talk radio, you can go from Ingraham to Limbaugh to Hannity or Savage to Levin in a day and hear nary a word of displeasure with Trump.
Though many hosts have avoided a formal endorsement, they've heaped praise on the candidate and signaled to their listeners that Trump is their guy.
Indeed, Limbaugh has spent the summer praising Trump for tapping into the base Republicans need to win and for his "ability to illuminate" issues. Hannity has lauded Trump as "impressive and refreshing," while Ingraham has claimed he resonates with voters because he's willing to say what "no one else is saying."
It's not mere compliments spewing from talk radio -- the conservative pundits are championing Trump's offensive and dangerous proposals. And as Gray noted, "[i]f Rush Limbaugh or Mark Levin or Sean Hannity or Laura Ingraham decide that birthright citizenship is going to be a big issue, then lo, it becomes the issue of the week, or month." She went on:
And right now, Trump's embrace of hardline immigration ideas like ending birthright citizenship matches up perfectly with the policies that some of these hosts have been promoting for some time. The Trump-inspired debate over immigration is allowing them to mainstream ideas that once didn't have much purchase, the birthright citizenship question being a notable recent example. Both Levin and Limbaugh have seized on a quote by Sen. Jacob Howard, the original sponsor of the Citizenship Clause, that they're using to bolster their case that the 14th amendment doesn't guarantee citizenship to the children of people in the country illegally. Laura Ingraham has also referenced it.
Limbaugh has bragged that Trump's smear of Mexican immigrants as "rapists" and criminals is similar to what he's been saying on the radio for years. On birthright citizenship, Limbaugh applauded Trump's call to end the constitutional right, saying Trump "has people standing up and cheering." Hannity and Levin joined forces to declare that "Trump was right" on the 14th Amendment.
The praise should come as no surprise, as Trump's call to end birthright citizenship is itself taken from right-wing talk radio talking points. For years, Ingraham and Levin have been demanding an end to birthright citizenship, which Levin dismissed as a "nut-job policy" and Ingraham attacked as "nonsense."
From the August 26 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:
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From the August 18 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump echoed right-wing media's calls to dismantle the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee to birthright citizenship in his recently announced immigration plan, and conservative media figures responding by lauding the plan as a "remarkable political document."
From the August 13 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:
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Conservative media are embroiled in a blame game over the rise of Donald Trump as a legitimate contender to be the 2016 Republican nominee, and while many on the right promoted his candidacy, Trump's greatest ally has been Fox News itself.
After Erick Erickson disinvited Donald Trump to his annual RedState Gathering over Trump's sexist attacks on Fox News anchor and debate moderator Megyn Kelly,The Wall Street Journal editorial board called out Erickson for helping legitimize Trump's candidacy in the first place. Erickson "trumpeted the businessman as a political tonic," the Journal wrote, noting how the conservative blogger is part of "a strain on the right that has put Trumpian bluster above political reality" and "helped to create Trumpism." And yet it's these conservative media pundits "who indulged him [that] now claim to be embarrassed."
Right-wing bloggers like Erickson have definitely played a role in hyping Trump -- just refer back to Erickson's blog titled, "Yes, I Would Vote for Donald Trump For President" -- but Trump's rise has been sanctioned by a much bigger ally: Fox News.
Fox, a corporate cousin to The Wall Street Journal, has played perhaps the largest role in the promotion of Trump as a legitimate candidate, a fact that is suspiciously missing from the Journal's editorial (despite the fact that Erickson is a contributor on the network). Within the past three months, Trump has far exceeded any other GOP candidate in regards to airtime on Fox News, enjoying 4 hours and 45 minutes on the national platform over the course of 31 appearances.
Until he turned on one of their own, Fox hosts have been quick to praise Trump and defend him from controversy in the past. Fox's entire primetime line-up rallied to defend Trump and his anti-immigrant comments after NBC severed business ties with the presidential hopeful for unapologetically referring to Mexican immigrants as "rapists" and criminals. The network then led the charge crediting Trump for igniting a national debate on immigration.
Eric Bolling has repeatedly gone to bat for Trump, praising him for "making the rest of the [GOP] field better," while Sean Hannity championed Trump as the "direct result of a weak and timid ... Republican party." Bill O'Reilly gave Trump a platform to continue calling Latin American immigrants rapists and criminals and justified Trump's vitriol as simply an attempt to inartfully "highlight a problem." Others like Gretchen Carlson lashed out at the RNC following reports chairman Reince Priebus had scolded Trump about his inflammatory rhetoric.
There was also the cycle of back-patting that occurred between Fox's morning show Fox & Friends and Trump, where the program and the candidate repeatedly traded compliments on the network and at campaign events.
Fox hosts and contributors have gone so far to instruct other Republican candidates to be more like Trump. Fox contributor Laura Ingraham lauded Trump for teaching other candidates "how to build a brand," while network judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano urged candidates to "take a lesson from the Donald" after exclaiming he's "thrilled" Trump is in the race. Andrea Tantaros once instructed GOP presidential candidates to "follow Donald Trump's lead."
Fox News is now seemingly following Erickson in backing away from Trump, since the bombastic candidate they helped build is turning his vitriol on Megyn Kelly, one of their own. But if outlets like the Journal are calling out those conservative media outlets culpable for his rise in the first place, Fox News should be first on the list.
From the August 9 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:
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From the July 28 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
Conservative media defended Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee's recent claim -- that President Obama's negotiated agreement with Iran over its nuclear program will take Israelis "to the door of the oven" -- by praising the Holocaust comparison as "absolutely true" and "an accurate description."
Fox News figures have been leading the praise of Donald Trump's anti-immigrant, anti-Latino rhetoric, and have even credited the 2016 presidential hopeful for injecting new life into the national debate over illegal immigration. It represents a significant departure from what Fox and other right-wing media were saying in the wake of the 2012 presidential election, when the deep rift between Republicans and Hispanic voters had become painfully clear to the GOP.
Trump is basking in -- and benefitting from -- the support of conservative media. He reportedly had a one-on-one meeting with Fox News President Roger Ailes before announcing his White House candidacy and is now leading the Fox Primary. During the month of June, Trump made 10 appearances on Fox News, racking up an hour and 48 minutes of airtime on the popular cable news network.
After Trump's incendiary remarks about Mexicans caused him to begin hemorrhaging corporate support, Fox News immediately rallied to defend him. Fox's Megyn Kelly even turned to conservative bomb-thrower Ann Coulter to defend Trump's anti-immigrant talk.
Fox host Bill O'Reilly said that while Trump may have inartfully articulated his point, he was "highlighting a problem...that is harming the nation." Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham applauded Trump for his comments, saying, "Finally, someone is taking on Bush," and calling Trump "someone who is channeling our frustration with the system." Fox News host Gretchen Carlson lashed out at the Republican National Committee (RNC) for reportedly scolding Trump, asking, "Don't you want to see what he might just say on the debate stage? I know I do."
Fox News contributor Monica Crowley suggested that GOP presidential candidates follow Trump's lead because he is "saying things that need to be said, and if the other candidates are smart," they'll follow suit.
Latinos don't agree. As the Washington Post pointed out, "Trump's unfavorable ratings among Hispanics rose sharply from 60 percent in May to 81 percent now."
Flashback to 2012, when a slew of conservative media figures were calling for a change in tone towards Latinos in the wake of GOP White House candidate Mitt Romney's disastrous "self-deportation" comments and the decisive Republican defeat at the polls. Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham said, "The language of dealing with Latinos has to be changed." Fox host Bill O'Reilly said, "The Republican party has to figure out what message in their philosophy is going to be accepted by black and Latino voters. They have to get a message to them. And they haven't done it."
According to Nexis transcripts from the November 20, 2012 edition of Fox News' Hannity, conservative commentator David Webb advised Republicans to "get better and engage in communities on policies, not because it's different for Hispanics or Blacks but because it is good for the American people."
Fox News host Gretchen Carlson offered that "you have to reach out to the Latinos. You have to have immigration reform," on the November 15, 2012 edition of The O'Reilly Factor. Fellow Fox host Jeanine Pirro agreed, saying, "And, you know, the Republican party is at a very crucial point. They have to make a decision as to what they're going to do to reach out to everyone, to be the party of -- and I have even using the word "inclusion" (via Nexis).
As Media Matters wrote back in 2013, "The schism among conservatives on how to approach immigration reform and Latino voters in general isn't going away." So even though conservative politicians are aggressively courting the Latino vote in battleground states, conservative media have been championing Donald Trump. This is placing conservative Latino civic involvement groups like the Libre Initiative in a difficult situation.
To be fair, current polling has found that a "clear majority of Hispanic voters recognize the difference between Trump and the Republican Party in this controversy." But nonetheless, Trump's popularity among Republicans continues to soar.
Right-wing media darling Scott Walker has announced he is running for president. Conservative pundits have lionized Walker as a "charismatic," "sexy," "genuine hero."
Fox News personalities and right-wing radio hosts are crediting Donald Trump with focusing national media attention on sanctuary cities and immigration with his incendiary comments that characterized immigrants as criminals and "rapists" -- leading Trump to brag about Fox's laudatory coverage of his racist remarks.
Conservative media were outraged after the Supreme Court ruled to uphold health insurance tax credits for millions of Americans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), just as Congress intended.
Conservative media are outraged over news that a woman will appear on the newly designed $10 bill, calling the decision "moronic," a disgrace," and even claiming it was an effort by President Obama to "make up for the Trail of Tears."
Jeb Bush, who is expected to announce a run for president next week, has received withering criticism from prominent conservative radio hosts Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, and Laura Ingraham. The conservative talkers have attacked Bush as "not a Republican," an "egomaniac," and someone who must "be fought" in the Republican primary.