Conservative Wisconsin Talk Radio Hosts Bash Trump On Cable News

››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

Wisconsin conservative talk radio hosts have been "criticizing and castigating" Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump on their radio shows, and in the run-up to the WI primary, several have also appeared on cable news to bash the candidate.

Wisconsin Conservative Talk Radio Hosts Unite Against Donald Trump

NY Times: Wisconsin Conservative Talk Radio Lines Up Against Trump. According to an April 4 New York Times article, six Wisconsin conservative talk radio hosts are "on a mission to stop Trump" and have been "criticizing and castigating" the GOP front-runner. Trump has had contentious interviews with several of the hosts; Charlie Sykes has called him a "whiny, thin-skinned bully," Vicki McKenna challenged him to declare "wives and kids off limits" before Trump hung up on her, and Jerry Bader told the Times, "I think he's dangerous." Mark Belling clarified that the six hosts, who also include Jeff Wagner and Jay Weber, "came to this conclusion independently." From the article:

Mr. [Charlie] Sykes, along with a handful of other local radio hosts, has spent his mornings criticizing and castigating Mr. Trump over the airwaves. And if Mr. Trump loses the Wisconsin primary on Tuesday, he will have Mr. Sykes and his merry band of talkers partly to blame.

[...]

When Mr. Walker, who ended his own presidential bid by offering a pointed rebuke of Mr. Trump, endorsed Mr. Cruz last Tuesday, he did so by calling in to Mr. Sykes's show. And the week before, Mr. Cruz opened his Wisconsin primary bid in a friendly interview with Mr. Sykes.

Mr. Trump, by contrast, has found himself under near constant fire from the conservative talk radio hosts who dominate the southern part of the state, including the three counties that contain parts of Milwaukee: Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington. They are among the most conservative counties in Wisconsin, and where Mr. Trump is struggling the most.

The most popular conservative talk show hosts here -- Mr. Sykes, Jeff Wagner of WTMJ, and Mark Belling, Vicki McKenna and Jay Weber of WISN -- are united in their disdain for Mr. Trump, with Jerry Bader, a radio personality at WTAQ in Green Bay, rounding out the group.

"The thing that's been unique in this presidential race is, for some reason, the three who work here -- Jay, Vicki and myself -- and our competitors, Charlie and Jeff Wagner, all seem to despise Trump," Mr. Belling said in an interview. "We all just kind of came to this conclusion independently. I think it's just that we're not as stupid as some of the people that are falling for Trump's crap." [The New York Times, 4/4/16]

Three Of The Hosts Have Appeared Repeatedly On Cable News To Bash Trump

Jerry Bader

Jerry Bader On CNN: Trump Is "Completely Unqualified To Be President, Both In Demeanor And In Grasp Of Issues." On the April 4 edition of CNN's CNN Tonight with Don Lemon, conservative Wisconsin talk radio host Jerry Bader said Trump is "completely unqualified to be president both in demeanor and in grasp of issues." Bader continued, "Nothing seems to be rooted in reality when you talk with him," and he compared dealing with Trump to refereeing his own children:

DON LEMON (HOST): You are one of six talk radio hosts. You're going on the airwaves against Donald Trump and supporting Ted Cruz. Why do you dislike Trump so much?

JERRY BADER: Well, it's not a matter of dislike in a personal sense. Quite frankly, it is a matter of feeling that he's completely unqualified to be president, both in demeanor and in grasp of issues. Other than that, he's a great candidate, Don. There's just nothing about the man that appears presidential in terms of intellectual heft, mastery of issues, and the playground behavior. It's really that simple.

[...]

LEMON: Jerry, you recently described a conversation with Mr. Trump as feeling like a Saturday Night Live skit. Explain that.

BADER: Nothing seems to be rooted in reality when you talk with him. And it really was a microcosm of his entire campaign. You know, he was shocked at the fact that, as an opinion maker, I actually have expressed an opinion on a candidate, in this case, Ted Cruz. He kept going back and back to that. And to actually -- you know, I've seen him do this how many times, but to be part of that 'she started it, she started it.' I mean, I'm a father. I remember that from 15 years ago, and it's just, it doesn't seem real. [CNN, CNN Tonight with Don Lemon, 4/4/16]

Bader On CNN: Trump Was "Petulant, Childish, Predictable, And Unproductive" During Our Interview. On the April 5 edition of CNN's CNN Newsroom with Carol Costello, Bader called his interview with Trump "petulant, childish, predictable, and unproductive." Bader said he and other conservative talkers were "quite frankly sophisticated enough not to buy his crap" and criticized Trump's "temperament" and "the way he treats people." Bader also noted Trump's "race-baiting" and support from white supremacists, saying that he controls who supports him by sending "out signals":

CAROL COSTELLO (HOST): What adjective would you use to describe that interview with Mr. Trump?

JERRY BADER: I think you'd need to invent one. But until then, I would stick with petulant, childish, predictable, and unproductive.

COSTELLO: Wow. So all six of radio conservative talkers in Wisconsin are out to defeat Trump. They do not like Donald Trump. Was this an organized effort?

BADER: Absolutely not. And I caught your word 'plot.' There are no strategy meetings. We are pragmatic. We are, quite frankly, sophisticated enough not to buy his crap, and we do that independently. I will say this publicly, of the six people mentioned in that New York Times article, I call one a friend, Charlie Sykes, and that's it. And Charlie and I don't take notes and decide. And of course, Charlie has been high profile on as well. We came to this conclusion independently. Donald Trump for a myriad of reasons is not qualified to be president.

COSTELLO: Well, you said stopping Trump is a moral issue for you. Why?

BADER: Couple of reasons on that. One, I think something that has been underplayed is the race-baiting. And yesterday, last night, I was on Don Lemon's show, and we talked about a racist, a white supremacist robocall that went around here in Wisconsin. And Trump's supporters want to say he can't help who supports him. You know that's really not true. You send out signals and certain people respond to them. That's the first thing. The other thing is when you look at the temperament, the way he treats people, do you really want someone that -as the leader of the free world? And when he is asked on issues, he has no depth at all. That's why he got into trouble on the abortion issue here in Wisconsin. He's not pro-life. He has no idea how a pro-life candidate should answer that question, so he took his best guess and it was an awful one. [CNN, CNN Newsroom with Carol Costello, 4/5/16]

Charlie Sykes

Charlie Sykes Lashes Out At Conservative Media On MSNBC: "How Did You Let [Trump] Go For So Long And Let This Scam Get As Far As It Has Gotten?" On the April 4 edition of MSNBC's The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Wisconsin conservative talk radio host Charlie Sykes said that he and other Wisconsin talkers were helping to "expose all of the ... fraud behind" Trump. Sykes also asked why conservative media "let this guy go for so long and let this scam get as far as it has gotten":

LAWRENCE O'DONNELL (HOST): Wisconsin seems to be behaving differently from other states that we've seen in the Republican campaign so far for a variety of reasons. A lot of people are focused on you and other talk radio hosts there who have been very strongly anti-Donald Trump, and that's in contrast to some of the other radio markets in the country that are dominated by the national shows like Rush Limbaugh, who has been essentially very pro-Trump as this campaign has worn on. Is that one of the big differences we're seeing there?

CHARLIE SYKES: It's one of them. It's not the only difference. But that is extraordinary, by the way, that, you know, this week for the first time you push back on Donald Trump, you begin to ask him tough questions, you begin to expose all of the, you know, the fraud behind this guy. And it does occur to me, this didn't happen in any of the other states. It didn't happen in Florida. It didn't happen in South Carolina. I mean, really what does this say about the rest of the media that we're just finding out about the kinds of things that you were talking about? And you know, if you have liberal media, fine, go after him. But the conservative media, frankly, has to have a day of reckoning to ask, how did you let this guy go for so long and let this scam get as far as it has gotten? [MSNBC, The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 4/4/16]

Sykes On MSNBC: "Never Trump Means Never Trump. ... You Have To Decide Whether Or Not You Want To Be Stained By The Association" With Him. On the April 5 edition of MSNBC's The Place for Politics 2016, Sykes said he was a "never Trump" person and questioned how conservatives can call Trump "racist, and sexist, and xenophobic, and irresponsible, and unfit to be president," and still vote for him. Sykes continued that conservatives "have to decide whether or not you want to be stained by the association" with Trump:

CHRIS HAYES (HOST): You're a never Trump person --

CHARLIE SYKES: Very much never Trump. Never.

HAYES: And you mean that seriously in the sense of November, you will never cast a vote for this man.

SYKES: No, never Trump means never Trump. I came out very early on this.

HAYES: Well, Marco Rubio briefly interpreted it to mean never vote for him in the contested primary in which I'm running.

SYKES: See I don't know how you can say, you know --

HAYES: The things people have said about him.

SYKES: Right, when, you know, Mitt Romney talks about him being racist, and sexist, and xenophobic, and irresponsible, and unfit to be president --

HAYES: Possibly a threat to the republic.

SYKES: Exactly. So how do you turn around later and say, yes, I think this man ought to be president of the United States? And for my fellow conservatives, you know, what I'm saying is look, if he's the nominee, the election is all pretty much over. So you have to decide whether or not you want to be stained by the association. I mean how do you walk back to women, and minorities, and Hispanics and say, you know, we are in fact an aspirational opportunity party, we are open and inclusive, if in fact you have associated yourself with this candidate? You can't do that. [MSNBC, The Place for Politics 2016, 4/5/16]

Vicki McKenna

Vicki McKenna On Fox: Trump Being "Nonspecific And Unprepared Is Not Going To Fly In Our State." On the April 2 edition of Fox News' America's Election HQ, conservative Wisconsin talk radio host Vicki McKenna said Trump has low polling in Wisconsin because the state has "some of the most well-informed conservative voters in America" thanks, in part, to talk radio. McKenna blasted Trump for "essentially us[ing] Democratic talking points to trash the reforms that we all came together to support" and concluded that being "nonspecific and unprepared is not going to fly in our state":

LELAND VITTERT (HOST): We already established, Vicki, that you're off Mr. Trump's Christmas card list. But as we continue to look at what's happening there in Wisconsin, Trump is 10 points down to Ted Cruz in the latest Fox Business Network poll. What do you make of that? Why is Wisconsin so different than all these other states that we've seen go for Mr. Trump?

VICKI MCKENNA: We have, and I'm not exaggerating, we have some of the most well-informed conservative voters in America in Wisconsin. And I'm not just patting, you know, talk radio on the back, but a lot of it has to do with the fact that they get deep-dive political analysis on our shows. They know their stuff. They know what's going on inside the state. When Donald Trump comes into Wisconsin and blasts Governor Walker for a nonexistent $2.2 billion deficit, when he essentially uses Democratic talking points to trash the reforms that we all came together to support, that will never play well. And to be nonspecific and unprepared is not going to fly in our state. [Fox News, America's Election HQ, 4/2/16]

McKenna On CNN: Trump "Has Spent No Time Trying To Learn About Wisconsin." On the April 4 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360, McKenna said that "Donald Trump doesn't know what it takes to win Wisconsin." McKenna criticized Trump for not being organized and for spending "no time trying to learn about Wisconsin," saying he is "entirely unfamiliar with the reforms that were passed by a conservative legislature and Governor Scott Walker":

ANDERSON COOPER (HOST): Trump's confident that he's going to win Wisconsin, but as you pointed out, he hasn't had the same strong presence in the state that Cruz has. I mean, is he underestimating what it's going to take to win a vote there?

VICKI MCKENNA: Donald Trump doesn't know what it takes to win Wisconsin. He has spent no time trying to learn about Wisconsin. Listen, first off, you have to be organized in Wisconsin. You actually have to know the lay of the land in Wisconsin. Donald Trump is unfamiliar with the six years of political warfare we have been engaged in. He's entirely unfamiliar with the reforms that were passed by a conservative legislature and Governor Scott Walker. He's entirely unfamiliar with the fact that way back in 2007, we started kicking those establishment, whatever that means now, but those sort of entrenched, big government Republicans to the curb. We are way ahead of the curve on trying to right the ship that is, you know, the Republican Party, at least in terms of conservative principles. [CNN, Anderson Cooper 360, 4/4/16]

McKenna On Fox Business: "If The Election Were Held Tomorrow, I Couldn't" Get Behind Trump. On the April 5 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co., Vicki McKenna told host Stuart Varney that she "absolutely" could not get behind a Trump candidacy "if the election were held tomorrow":

STUART VARNEY (HOST): Could you get behind a Trump candidacy? Doesn't sound like you could.

VICKI MCKENNA: Not today I couldn't, no. If the election were held tomorrow I couldn't do it. I mean look, anything can change. Let's just say, I don't know, he actually does act like an adult and not like a 9-year-old tweeting insults or mocking people with, you know, schoolyard taunts. OK, maybe. But right now, if the election were held tomorrow, absolutely not. [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 4/5/16]

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