The Weekly Standard

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  • Break Out The Popcorn: Bill Kristol Goes After WSJ Editorial Board Over Trump Support

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Kristol and Trump

    The editor of one of the conservative establishment’s most influential magazines is now lashing out at the nation’s most prominent right-wing newspaper editorial board over whether conservatives should run a third-party candidate if Donald Trump is the Republican presidential nominee.

    With Trump on the verge of clinching his party’s nomination, the conservative movement is in shambles. Dozens of right-wing commentators have come forward to say that they will never vote for Trump, either due to his bigotry and authoritarian tendencies or because of his alleged progressive positions. Those conservatives have said they will stay home, vote for the Democratic candidate, or support a third-party candidate.

    Bill Kristol, the editor of the Weekly Standard and a prominent conservative activist who bears significant responsibility for Sarah Palin ending up on a national ticket, is part of that faction. In February, he said that he “would try to recruit a real conservative” to run an independent campaign if Trump became the Republican nominee.

    But a large group of conservatives are either openly rooting for the New York businessman or have come to terms with the likelihood that he will be their party’s standard-bearer.

    The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board joined that final group this morning, with a piece criticizing any effort to enlist a third-party candidate (Rupert Murdoch, the paper’s owner, has said that the party would be “mad not to unify” around Trump). The editors write:

    Readers know our doubts about Mr. Trump, on policy and as an autumn candidate. His nomination still isn’t guaranteed, and the polls show him badly trailing Mrs. Clinton, despite her many flaws. Third-party advocates say the right candidate would give conservatives an honorable alternative to Trump-Hillary. They say a third-party candidate could win enough states to throw the election into the House of Representatives, which would then presumably choose the non-Trump Republican.

    This isn’t impossible, but then again it almost never happens. The usual presidential result is that the party that splinters hands the election to the other, more united party. 

    The editors conclude that a third-party conservative candidate would be devastating to the party’s House and Senate candidates: “[D]ueling presidential candidates would put House and Senate Republican candidates in a perilous spot. Do they support Mr. Trump or the third-party conservative? If they are forced to choose, they could alienate enough GOP voters to ensure defeat.”

    Hours later, Kristol threw down the gauntlet at the Journal. Pointing to Trump’s “crazed” comments this morning linking Sen. Ted Cruz’s father to the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Kristol declared that “serious people, including serious conservatives, cannot acquiesce in Donald Trump as their candidate.”

    Kristol savaged the Journal for prioritizing “political prudence,” concluding that regardless of the political implications, “Donald Trump should not be president of the United States. The Wall Street Journal cannot bring itself to say that. We can say it, we do say it, and we are proud to act accordingly.”

    The Journal and Kristol may both be right: Giving conservatives no choice but to support Trump in the general election may be better for the party’s congressional candidates (though it also makes it impossible for them to distance themselves from their incredibly unpopular nominee). But supporting Trump in spite of what the Journal gingerly describes as their “doubts” about his candidacy is quite obviously an act of raw political cowardice.

    It’s only May, and the looming Trump candidacy is already dividing even the establishment’s stalwarts. Who knows what the next six months will bring. But it will surely be fun to watch from the outside.

  • Right-Wing Media Panic Over Donald Trump's Front-Runner Status On Super Tuesday

    Right-Wing Media: If Trump Gets Nomination, "The GOP In Its Current Form Ends"

    ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    Right-wing media figures lamented Donald Trump's primary success, after he won the majority of Republican primary contests on Super Tuesday. Their attacks against the front-runner follows a New York Times report on the formation of the "Our Principles" political action committee, a right wing PAC devoted to a "full-fledged campaign against Donald J. Trump."

  • Pundits Across Political Spectrum Blast Trump For Declining To Disavow Support From KKK

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    On the February 28 edition of CNN's State of the Union, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump declined to disavow the support of former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke. Media are lambasting the presidential hopeful for not unequivocally distancing himself from the support of white supremacists, saying his failure to do so "is disqualifying," likening it to "a Todd Akin moment," and arguing that Trump's non-response shows he is catering to racists and xenophobes.

  • Right-Wing Media Praise Rubio's Defense Of His Abortion Stance, Ignore How Extreme It Is

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Conservative media are applauding Marco Rubio for how he defended his extreme stance that abortion should be illegal in all cases, except to save the life of the mother, during the February 6 Republican primary debate. But many of these media outlets are ignoring the fact that most Americans do not agree with his position.

  • The Extremism Of National Review's Trump Critics

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    The influential conservatives who penned essays for National Review urging voters not to cast their ballots for Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump have their own histories of extremism. They have called President Obama a "racist" with a "deep-seeded hatred for white people" and compared him to a "skinny, ghetto crackhead"; termed Supreme Court Justice David Souter a "goat fucking child molester"; reportedly "helped push" Sarah Palin onto the 2008 GOP presidential ticket; and offered inflammatory Islamophobic comments.

  • Conservative Media Ignore Bush Administration, Blame Obama And Clinton For North Korean Nuclear Proliferation

    North Korea Became 8th Nuclear State In 2006 Under George W. Bush

    ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    Right-wing media figures immediately attacked President Obama and Hillary Clinton, following North Korea's announcement that they conducted a nuclear test. Right-wing media pundits blamed Obama, Bill, and Hillary Clinton for North Korea's Nuclear proliferation, ignoring that North Korea's first successful nuclear test occurred under the George W. Bush's administration in 2006.

  • Preliminary Obamacare Enrollment Numbers Counter Right-Wing Media Claims That The Health Care Law Will Collapse

    Enrollment Activity Is Ahead Of Schedule For 2016

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Healthcare.gov is enrolling new applicants until Jan. 31

    New enrollment for health insurance on the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) marketplace exchanges is ahead of schedule through the first six weeks of open enrollment this year, a strong rebuke to continued right-wing predictions that low enrollment and the closure of a few health insurance cooperatives would prove the law is a failure.

    On December 9, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the latest figures on health insurance enrollments through Healthcare.gov. CMS reported over 1 million new customers have signed up for health insurance and that 1.8 million more renewed their plans through the exchange marketplace during the first half of this year's enrollment period. According to The Hill, CMS had only targeted 900,000 new insurance customers for the entire 2016 enrollment period, which ends on January 31. CMS administrator Andy Slavitt told The Hill "I'm a pretty conservative guy, and I'm encouraged by the start we've had."

    According to The New York Times, interest in enrollment is high with six more weeks to go before the sign-up period ends and "call centers have been deluged with requests from others eager to enroll." While not everyone who signs up will ultimately decide to pay their premiums and receive coverage, early reports indicate that the health insurance marketplaces established by the ACA are on-target to meet their coverage expansion goals by the end of the year.

    These positive early reports on enrollment numbers offer a stark contrast to right-wing media claims that enrollments this year would falter and that the law is failing to meet expectations. In November, several conservative outlets latched on to stories about the planned closure of a few health insurance cooperatives as proof that the president's signature health care reform law was in a "death spiral" and on the verge of collapse. In October, The Wall Street Journal responded to sharply revised 2016 enrollment estimates by claiming that Obamacare "won't survive." The Journal ignored that part of the government's estimate adjustment was the result of more people than expected staying on employer-sponsored health care plans as the uninsured rate fell to a record low of 11.4 percent. The Journal then used their dire predictions about Obamacare to push floundering Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush's plan to repeal the law.

    This is not the first time right-wing media have made false claims about the ACA or grim predictions of the law being a failure. During the 2014 enrollment period, Media Matters chronicled so-called health care "truthers" who suggested that participation numbers were too high and may have been made up. Fox's Sean Hannity claimed that the Obama administration was "cooking the books on this thing," and that millions of applications for enrollment had "appeared out of thin air," while other Fox personalities claimed insurance signups "magically" hit their enrollment goals. Right-wing media held so deeply to this false enrollment conspiracy that they confusingly declared victory and impugned Media Matters when, in late 2014, CMS announced that a minor accounting error for exchange-approved dental plans had overstated the number of enrollees by just under 6 percent.

  • What Conservative Media Get Wrong About The Link Between Gun Safety And Terrorism Prevention

    ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Conservative media are attacking President Obama for saying in his Oval Office address on terror that Congress should limit the availability of assault weapons and the ability of people on terror watch lists to legally purchase firearms, claiming his "entirely out of place" reference to gun legislation was an attempt to "shift the conversation" and "attack the Second Amendment." In fact, the discussion of guns was pertinent to terrorism in the United States because 95 percent of U.S. terrorism fatalities since 9/11 have been the result of gunfire and Al Qaeda has urged its followers to exploit America's weak gun laws to carry out attacks.

  • Media Condemn Donald Trump's "Dangerous," "Fascistic" Ban On Muslims Entering The US

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN & BRENDAN KARET

    Media figures across the ideological spectrum are condemning Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States, calling it "dangerous," a violation of the First Amendment, and "fascistic." Trump's proposal builds on previous calls from Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush to exclude Muslim Syrian refugees from entering the United States.

  • As Donald Trump Calls To Ban Muslim Entry To US, Right-Wing Media Pretend Anti-Muslim Backlash Doesn't Exist

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Right-wing media criticized President Obama for condemning Islamophobia and roundly denied the existence of anti-Muslim discrimination in the United States as "pure myth" and "something that doesn't really exist." These claims gained traction just as GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump released a proposal to ban Muslim entry into the United States.

  • Ignoring The Facts, Conservative Media Call Bernie Sanders "Crazy" For Linking Climate Change To Terrorism

    ››› ››› KATE SARNA

    Right-wing media mocked Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders for linking climate change to terrorism during the November 14 CBS Democratic presidential debate. Sanders explained that if climate change continues to go largely unaddressed, "you're going to see all kinds of international conflict." Right-wing media called Sanders "insane" and "someone who doesn't understand what the real subject is." However, major studies and reports from foreign policy and defense experts support Sanders' assessment that climate change was a significant factor contributing to the rise of ISIL (or ISIS).