Trump’s career-defining selling point: They’re targeting you, not me


A cartoon Donald Trump shared on his homegrown social media network over the weekend captures the idea, albeit crudely. It shows a smiling, resigned Trump holding a large shield on which a series of arrows land. The arrows with blue feathers are labeled “DOJ”, “FBI”, “IRS”, “MS MEDIA” and in an arrow with red feathers “RINOS”. In his left hand, Trump holds a flag that reads “We the People.”

But then there is a sign behind him: “You are here”, an arrow pointing to the area behind the former president. You are there, behind him, shielded from him. The arrows hit his shield – but they are targeted she.

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It has long been the case that Trump has attempted to present himself not as the leader of the political right, but as their sword and armor. His rhetoric was always heavily influenced by “we” language; the struggle in which he was involved was a collective struggle. As incongruous as it might seem for a Fifth Avenue tycoon to jet his way through the defense of Wisconsin factory workers in a private jet, his background likely helped his cause. In the 2016 election, he claimed that as a former participant he understood how the corrupt system worked – so he had the tools to dismantle it. He was an elite fed up with elites, a defector ready to topple the regime from within.

As he spoke to his supporters, their sense that Trump was an intermediary on their behalf was very real. Tactile. Trump marketed this feeling that he was fighting for this particular subset of Americans, and it was compelling, especially when he won in 2016. Here was a champion who fought the hated elites and their heroes like Hillary Clinton – and won! Trump came into the presidency with a Fox News-level understanding of how government works. Then, when he targeted those elements, it landed with a splash among other Fox News viewers.

But, of course, the gilded facade was just that. There have been and continue to be real questions about the legality of Trump’s actions, his business and his approach to the presidency. Several members of his campaign team were linked to Russia even as that country attempted to back his victory, a fact that led to lengthy investigations. Trump’s selling point evolved effortlessly: The FBI targeted him for fighting for real Americans against the “deep state” elites. Politically, it was awesome. When you portray the establishment as both omnipotent and biased, even the apparently justified investigation becomes an unacceptable attempt to unfairly attack Trump. And by extension, regular Americans.

One person who sees the utility of Trump’s framing is Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. The show’s host was unlucky to be on vacation last week, missing out on the first wave of anger over the FBI’s search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home.

He made up for lost time.

“If you have expressed any support for him or have any interest in maintaining freedom of speech and due process, then you are also a criminal,” Carlson said Monday night. “Actually, you are the threat. You are the threat. And just to say that you disagree with what is happening is an attack on our government.”

The “freedom of speech and due process” thing is a summary of the 20 minutes that preceded Carlson’s distillation of the point. If you’ve never seen Carlson’s monologues, it’s hard to convey the rapid flow of misinformation they entail, the college debate team’s efforts to portray its enemies as unrepentantly underhanded and its allies as unfairly attacked.

For example, on Monday night Carlson:

  1. Accused a TV presenter of murder
  2. Described US Capitol riot as ‘electoral justice protests’
  3. Repeated false claims about the IRS’s addition of 87,000 armed agents
  4. Insisted Trump’s allies would not be targeted by federal authorities for any reason other than being Trump’s allies

He’s been around for a while, giving sympathetic airtime to the likes of former Trump attorney John Eastman after authorities confiscated his phone as part of an investigation, you might recall, into Eastman’s role in efforts to thwart the Democratic transfer of power had. But he does so either with indifferent sloppiness or with willful dishonesty.

A subpoena for Trump’s attorney Eric Herschmann, Carlson said, is a function “to prosecute him … for providing legal advice to his client, Donald Trump.” Here, Fox News’ disinterest in airing or covering the Jan. 6 congressional hearings may come at a price; Anyone watching these hearings would know that Herschmann cannot be credibly cast as a loyal Trump ally. Then there was Carlson’s declaration that the Justice Department is taking action against Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani “now” — following the announcement that Giuliani is a target of criminal investigations in Georgia, not at the federal level. Anyone in any way connected to law enforcement is simply being dragged into this theoretical effort to dismantle Trumpworld.

But not because of Trump. Because they’re out to get she.

Carlson has been beating this drum since President Biden took office. That’s why he downplays the events of January 6: The arrest of hundreds of Trump supporters for breaking into the Capitol becomes simply the arrest of hundreds of Trump supporters when you wave away the actual criminal behavior. He scoffs at and hints at law enforcement’s repeated warnings of domestic violence being perpetrated by white supremacists, in part for selfish reasons Everyone on the right is referred to as a white supremacist.

Part of it is simply that Carlson is hoping to build his audience from Trump’s base. But some of it goes beyond that to fuel a sense of anger and fear.

Consider his comments as he finished his monologue.

“We are at this point on the brink of something unprecedented and something terrible,” Carlson warned. “You could feel it. Even Donald Trump is feeling it, perhaps for the first time in his life. Donald Trump seems genuinely interested in bringing the temperature down, not just for his own sake but for the country.”

This was a reference to an interview Trump gave in which he claimed to have offered assistance to the Justice Department.

“He said that. He’s never said anything like that,” Carlson continued. “Maybe he doesn’t mean it, but when has he ever said that? Let’s all calm down a littlehe said recently. This is not good. yes he is right It is not good. And not only for him. For all of us. This could get very bad, very quickly.”

But, he added, the “Biden people don’t care” because “they’re facing voter rejection and they’re desperate and they’re going to do anything.” But at what cost? Pray they withdraw before it’s too late.”

You want to get it She, America. So vote for Trump. So check out Fox.

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